Notes from St Tiggywinkles: Shocking injuries suffered by red kites

A red kite at Tiggywinkles
A red kite at Tiggywinkles

At Tiggys, sadly, we are used to bizarre and horrific injuries suffered by some wildlife casualties.

Perhaps we were prepared for recent shocking events.

But even old timers like me found it hard to grasp the horror that came through our doors.

Five young red kites, just starting out in life, had been found, each with the lower part of their legs missing or beyond saving.

A bird of prey with one foot missing cannot survive in the wild.

It cannot hunt and in the case of red kites cannot manage to feed in the wild.

Worst of all they develop, in their remaining foot, a condition called ‘Bumblefoot’ a bacterial explosion attacking the basic structure of the foot the birds had left.

These five sad youngsters were all found locally: Monks Risborough, Watlington, Beaconsfield, Cryers Hill and Medmenhamm – all well within the realm of all our own Chiltern population.

As they were all youngsters I feel that their injuries occurred even before they left their nests to take that doomed first flight and first bungled landing.

I have seen many ‘in the nest’ injuries as three of these wounds were obviously caused by nest material getting wrapped around their legs.

The material I have identified as baler twine.

Baler twine is a ticking time bomb if left in the environment.

Please pick up any baler twine you might find.

Take it home and burn it.

It is not even hazard free in landfill sites.

The other two were more sinister and all too familiar as I had seen identical amputations in previous years.

Similarly their left legs had been clearly severed midway down the tibiotarsus, equivalent to a shin bone.

There is no infection.

Every year this seems to be happening but 2014 will always will always be infamous, in our records, as five glorious young red kites will never go back to the wild.

Their unfortunate fate is to join the list of ‘wildlife mysteries’ we meet so often.