Country diary: under the gaze of a magnificent bird of prey

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Stamford, Lincolnshire: Swooping over the garden, the red kite lets you know it has you in its sights

The silhouette is back, and the hairs go up. Not fear. Just the feeling of being appraised by something having a long, aloof look. For some reason our garden has found its place on the morning scrutiny round of this magnificent thing. You can see why it got its name: the kite part, I mean. I’ve seen it more than any other bird of prey, so its movements are familiar. That shallow “M” of the wings, splay-tail like a mermaid’s, and that strange flight, too slow, wobbling on a spindly axis. It could briefly be a buzzard, then it drops a little, as if sliding down a wire, and you realise it’s bigger than it seems. I’ve seen it sometimes as low as the trees. Sometimes high, in a pair. Once I spotted its shadow first, patrolling the grass.

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