Fly Fishers' Republic


January 20, 2007

by Raif Killips

Red kite over the Welland

Most anglers know there’s more to fishing than catching fish, right? I mean, it’s not just about how many and how big, is it? Reading the blogs of other fly fishers like Eric tell me this is the case. Solitude, perspective, peace and quiet, fish, adrenalin, comradeship, and conversation – these are all things to be had when out fishing. What you get just depends upon the how, why, when, and where.

I enjoy all of those things on one trip or another, but one other thing I seek is an intimate view of wildlife. At home or out fishing you’ll find all kinds of wildlife flying and crawling around. It’s not hard to spot, and some of it is really quite fascinating. However, if you stick to well-populated locations, urban or rural, you’ll mostly see the same old things. Robins, starlings, pigeons, maybe a woodpecker if you’re lucky, add to that a few foxes, or raccoons if you’re west of the Atlantic, that’s the standard fare and it’s hard not to take these things for granted.

So, that’s where a spot of bushwhacking comes in. Though it’s not great for the longevity of your nice new Gortex waders, once you’ve got over that (after all what’s the problem with a patch here or there!?) the rewards are more than worth it. Solitude and time away from the crowd is to be treasured, while improved fishing opportunities alone make it worth the effort. But chance of seeing something new or rarely seen is reward indeed.

The rather poor photo that leads this post shows a red-kite (Milvus milvus) over a ploughed field adjacent to the river – just too far for a good shot, but close enough for an ID. Of course it may not be a rare site in some parts of the world, in mainland Europe they’re supposed to be common, but in thirty years of fishing the river I was standing in, I never saw one before.

I was told later by a work colleague, that the bird is probably one of a spreading population, re-introduced several years ago. Perhaps one day they’ll be common here in the Midlands, but for now they are not. I’m pretty sure if was not for my bushwhacking I’d never have spotted that majestic bird.