The meeting on November 1 began with our AGM. Chairman Chris Hull started with his report of the year.
Three topics have been discussed by the committee – a club outing that was not pursued because of lack of interest; a projector, which we borrow from Bamburgh WI, and an agreement has been reached whereby we will share the cost of a replacement when it fails; and the meeting room, which is comfortable, but is accessed by a steep flight of stairs, which is difficult for some members. The matter will remain under review.
The recommendations of the committee for office bearers in 2018 were accepted and are: Chairman A Willis, vice chairman M Gledston, secretary F Suffield, treasurer WF Grant, auditor J Scott. Additional committee members are G Cowen and I Wilkinson.
The annual lunch was held on October 18, at Bamburgh Golf Club, attended by 38 members and guests, including Harry Wilson of Berwick Probus Club, Ian Chapman of Warkworth Probus Club, and Andy Bardgett of Seahouses Rotary Club.
After presentation of a past chairman’s tie to Chris, we were introduced to speaker Judy Summerson, representing Friends of Red Kites in North East England. She gave an absorbing talk on the red kites’ return.
The red kite is a bird of prey, has an average wing span of around 6ft, a forked tail and a hooked beak. The adult bird has a ‘window’ of white plumage under each wing.
Surprising is the fact that it rarely takes live animals as food. It is a scavenger and eats carrion, particularly ‘road kill’. As far back as the 1200s red kites cleared the streets of rubbish before the introduction of waste collection.
The red kite largely died out in England and Scotland, but a colony survived in Wales and a few in the Chilterns.
The Northern Kite Project re-introduced them to the North East in the Rowlands Gill area, the Derwent Valley. This is an ideal habitat with its mixture of mature woodland, wetlands and open countryside.
From 2004-2007, 20, then 41, and finally 33 birds were released. They are regularly monitored and wing-tagged with a different colour each year (pink next year).
Since 2006 the red kites have begun to breed again in the region, but not as prolific as hoped. The Welsh colony is thriving, kick-started by a German red kite which strayed over.
Contrary to general belief, the red kite does not take lambs and small animals.
To round off a fascinating talk Gordon Cowan led a vote of thanks to Judy.