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Tuesday, 08 April 2008 20:42

Kites in the City

I had a report last week of a kite flying through the middle of Dublin City!

The observer was walking down Capel Street when they heard some gulls squawking above them. When he looked up, he saw a red kite being mobbed by a number of gulls flying up above the street. It flew off in the direction of Bull Island but then apparently turned around in the direction of the city again before he lost it from view.

As I've previously mentioned the kites are certainly on the move, with reports coming from lots of new areas. Dublin city isn't where I expected one to turn up however. Perhaps the kite was following the Liffey and arrived in the city that way. While a red kite in a city seems unusual now, in historic times they were well associated with cities. In medieval times when cities would have been filthy compared to modern standards, kites were common in London. Kites received special protection because it was recognised that they played an important role in keeping the city clean and helped control vermin such as rats. In fact the red kite in Dublin wasn't far from where kite remains were found at Wood Quay, these remains were some of the evidence that help prove that kites are native to Ireland. So in the past, a red kite over Dublin city may well have been a common sight.

Cities while not usually the first place you look for birds of prey can often provide good nesting habitat and feeding. Peregrine falcons often breed in cities, as do lesser kestrels in parts of Europe. There are, a now famous, pair of red-tailed hawks living on a building on Fifth Avenue in New York and New Delhi in India boasts the highest concentration of birds of prey in the world, with thousands of black kites living there. So next time you’re in a city keep your eyes peeled and keep the kite reports coming in.

Damian

Last modified on Friday, 09 March 2012 11:15