On New Years Day I made the short trip to Harewood on a mild sunny day, hoping to get a closer look at Red Kites which roost at nearby Harewood House. Red Kites had been persecuted almost to extinction in 1800's England and Wales but by the late 1990's they were on the increase and in 1999 Red Kites were released at Harewood House as part of a UK conservation initiative.
After a quick lunch at the Harewood Arms I made my way across the road and turned down Church Lane towards the Muddy Boots Cafe. There is a garage roof next to the car park for the cafe where food is left out on an almost daily basis. There had been food left out for the Kites and circling above were around half a dozen Red Kites and flying to and from the hedges were a pair of Blue Tits and a Robin.
The Red Kites seemed reluctant to swoop down for the food as they were joined by a pair of Buzzards as they circled overhead and a Pied Wagtail flew overhead and landed on the roof of a house nearby. The Red Kites were getting closer and closer but were then put off by a pair of barking Husky dogs and I decided to take a walk along Church Lane into the Harewood House estate. This part of the estate is a wooded area and although I didn't see any birds I did hear a Nuthatch calling.
I continued on for about half a mile where the right hand side of the path opened out and gave me views over the Wharfe river valley. Flying overhead I could see another Red Kite heading towards the Muddy Boots Cafe and after a few minutes I turned round and headed back along Church Lane. I was about two thirds of the way back to the Cafe when off to my left, perched high amongst the trees, was a Red Kite busy preening itself.
I stood watching the Red Kite for a couple of minutes before it took off and flew eastwards over the tops of the trees. I returned to the Red Kite feeding area next to the cafe where the number of Red Kites had now risen to around ten with the pair of Buzzards also still in attendance. Over to my right a Robin had now made its way to the top of a hedge and was singing away as a couple of Jackdaws and Crows flew overhead.
The Robin dropped back down into the hedge as one of the Red Kites swooped down looking as though it might go for some of the food but it went and landed in a tree about one hundred yards away. After a while the Robin returned to the top of the hedge and resumed its singing as a Pied Wagtail flew in and landed on the garage roof and proceeded to make its way along the garage roof.
I waited another half an hour or so but the Red Kites did not come down for the food but continued to just circle overhead. I now headed home as it was starting to get dark and the temperature was dropping quickly. This is one of the best sites in the country to see Red Kites and the only other place where I have seen more is Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre where I saw more than one hundred and fifty!
I have attached a few photos from my visit to Harewood.