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.