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Stoatally Bonkers

Somethings in life just go together, fish and chips, Fred and Ginger, Halifax Town and non-league football. But red kites and stoats?

I set off this morning meaning to go to one place and changed my mind, and I'm so glad I did.

Muddy Boots cafe (or bistro these days) is close to Harewood House near Leeds and is a great place to photograph red kites. Red Kites were released on the Harewood estate in 1999 as part of a UK conservation initiative. Their spectacularly successful re-introduction to Lowland areas of Yorkshire is now complete. The Red Kite now has a self-sustaining population, whose numbers are gradually increasing yearly.

This is a far cry from a species which was persecuted to extinction in England and Scotland by the end of the 1800s. At the last count there were over 300 Red Kites in the area around Harewood and Yorkshire.

Until recently a resident used to feed the kites near the cafe every day throwing ckicken and sausages onto the garage roofs where they would swoop down and grab a meaty treat before flying off. Unfortunately she died and nowadays it is visitors and photographers who provide the food. As I wasn't originally planning to go kite spotting I could only muster up a muesli bar and an apple, so step up to the plate, Tara and Shelley!

As I said somethings just go together and Tara and Shelley belong in that category. Not only had they turned up to watch the kites they'd brought some food to draw them in. And not just any old food, along with some left over bacon they had a stoat!

Shelley had spotted this tasty piece of roadkill last night and decided to pop it in a bag in their car and bring it along for Tara to lob onto the garage roof. I just sat there laughing, what a pair!

The kites took a passing interest as they floated overhead but none of them seemed to fancy a whole soat for breakfast.

After 45 minutes of dis-interest Tara and Shelley resorted to plan B and announced they were off to the supermarket to get some chicken!

Half an hour later they were back but not with a tray of diced chicked or some wings, oh no, they had a whole chicken and a carving knife! Tara carved while Shelley stood on a picnic bench talking to the kites and lobbing chunks of chicken high in the air trying to tempt them in. You really couldn't make this up.

The kites though weren't interested and after another hour of them ignoring the smorgasbord of butchery on the garage we decided it was time to head our seperate ways. I'm sure the kites came down at some point and feasted on the carnage. On my way home I spotted a dead deer at the side of the road, and although always a sad sight, I did wonder if Shelley would have pulled over and shoved it in the car boot!

What a brilliant morning and what a pair of fabulous nutters. It didn't really matter that the kites refused to join in, I had a fab time. Sometimes you just meet the right people at the right time and today was certainly one of those occasions. I hope I bump into them again soon.


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