Not far from where we live is a red kite feeding station where visitors can view these amazing birds swooping down to grab the meat put out for them.
Red kites were re-introduced to Dumfries & Galloway through a joint initiative between various groups including Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the RSPB. In 2001, 33 young birds were brought to Galloway and released into the wild at a secret location in the Galloway Forest Park. Over the next four years, another 71 birds were released from there and 3 other locations in the Loch Ken area. Breeding occurred for the first time in 2003 when one chick was fledged from one of four nests. In 2015 at least 112 chicks fledged. Now the birds can be seen in lots of places as they spread out across the region.
I’d taken the Goldfish to the feeding station once but had got the time wrong, arriving an hour after the birds were fed. We were still charged the full fee although there was little to see and the Goldfish couldn’t walk any distance. I swore I’d never go back but then saw there was an Open Day and it was free to go.
The son-and-heir was at home for the weekend so with the extra help transporting the Goldfish was a whole lot easier. We arrived to find the visitor centre was already packed with spectators, including many with very large cameras, and lots of families with small children.
At the sight of elderly man in wheelchair, the parents of small children began to drag them, protesting, from their vantage point to let us push through so the Goldfish would have a good view. To my utmost embarrassment he immediately fell asleep. Deeply asleep.
He slept as the woman came out with her bucket of dead chicks and he slept as the red kites filled the skies, swooping down to grab their dinner before soaring upwards again. It was spectacular to watch but no matter how much I nudged the Goldfish, shouted in his ear and shoogled his wheelchair he slept on.
As the last few stragglers cleared the dinner table the audience dispersed. The Goldfish woke up. Wide awake, he wolfed down an ice cream and we thought he might be interested in seeing the sheep, lambs and goats in the field. By the time we pushed the chair to the fence, he was asleep again. We came home.