Red Kites Over Eccup Reservoir
On Eccup reservoir at dawn, the water’s calm
And only early risers see us leave our nests
To soar above bridle path, stately home and farm;
To some a noble sight, yet others think us pests.
How are we then to live our own allotted span,
Unless the folk of rural Yorkshire learn to hold
Our beauty dear and cease to find a threat to man
In our far-seeing hooded eyes of amber gold.
Our tails are forked but not our tongues. They must believe
That we’re but carrion birds whose only living prey
They wouldn’t deign to eat. Much finer fare we leave
To those who work the land and need to make it pay.
Our talons are not stained with blood of plundered game
And our great wings of chestnut red will draw the crowds,
Our piping whistle summon those with just one aim;
To see us in full flight against the northern clouds.
Red kites are often to be seen flying over the Harewood estate, which includes the Emmerdale village where I often work, and Eccup reservoir beyond. A beautiful but much maligned species, they are still sometimes targeted by farmers and gamekeepers.