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  • Writer's pictureCrone

A social carrying capacity?

Breezy. A chill in the air. On the ploughed fields, seagulls and corvids pecked at the exposed soil. Black and white on the tired brown of over-used earth. At some unrecognisable signal, they'd rise and stir, snow and soot in a snow globe spinning and then sink again to the ground. But not sink all together, no, in groups and waves, sometimes setting the grounded birds back into flight. Electrons in constant movement.

Above them, the red kites rode the wide. Turning with the merest pivot of the long forked tail.

One might be chased by a crow, but would wheel away gracefully, with unconcerned ease.

Two chased each other, equals in flight, and the sky, for them, had substance, banks of breeze to push against.

I'd caught the end of a talk about the increasing numbers of red kites in this country. They were near extinct when I was a kid, but were reintroduced and have flourished. The speaker suggested that in the south-east, they have become a pest. They have reached, or are close to, the ecological carrying capacity and have exceeded what she called the social carrying capacity.

This is the fate of the wild. First we kill them because we can; then because they are the enemy; then because we don't care. When they are so few, rare, they become precious. We tend and reintroduce. But the ungrateful critters should stay rare and special. Once they are common, they slip back down the ranks from awe-inspiring to vermin.

Me, I still see them as special. I remember the skies without them.

On this day, looking down to the hedgerow, I watched them ride the currents above the trees.

And then I noticed the calls. Incessant calls. And I suddenly wondered if one was injured or stuck. I set off across the plough.

In the event, I think they were, quite simply, calling.


Kites in conversation.

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Oct 14, 2023

"Two chased each other, equals in flight, and the sky, for them, had substance, banks of breeze to push against." Nice 😍

That example of how the status (and perhaps "controls") of a species fluctuates according to changing human definitions -- that's a sad thing.

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