Eco Systems

Spring is ‘officially’ here, as if that means anything. If spring is plants budding, animals pairing off and so on, that’s been going on for a while now.

Riding past Clay Copse in Caversham / Emmer Green, I heard the first woodpecker of the year, hammering away. I did think that signified nest building but that’s not the case, or so I’m told. Rather, it’s about dislodging insects under the bark. Nevertheless, that’s still the first one I’ve heard this year.

A short while later, going along the lane from Henley towards Aston, a large adult red kite dropped down and landed in the field between the lane and the river, to then just sit there. What made that an odd sight is the field also had – and often has – a fair smattering of swans in it. Red kites and swans make unlikely companions. Well, I say that but I don’t actually know if that’s true. They’re not going to be competitors for food or territories, so perhaps they’re very happy to co-exist in close proximity.

The kites really could be called ‘common kites’ these days – they’ve been an interesting and noticeable success story in recent years. There must be numerous factors at work – not least a reduction in chemicals on the land, meaning their food is less likely to be poisoned, and less of a tendency to shoot them. I think there’s a broader understanding that they’re by-and-large scavengers and not predators.

Leaving aside the misguided people who actively feed them, their success is probably also due to the amount of carrion there is to scavenge. Road-kill is plentiful and it’s not for nothing that they’re always to be seen checking-out the roads and verges.

I suppose it’s an eco-system of sorts. Nature’s nothing if not adaptable.