Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wildlife Viewed Through Beer Goggles: 5. A Tale of Two Raptors

A while ago I began a series of posts on wildlife-themed beers that has lapsed somewhat. I haven't given up alcohol - I just hadn't got around to search out any more relevant beers. 

Recently I've sampled two excellent examples that each has a different story attached. 

First, Red Kite ruby ale, brewed to celebrate the reintroduction of red kites into the lower Derwent Valley near Gateshead. 

There is much to celebrate in this example of what is now fashionably called 'rewilding'. The success of the project, with what is now a well established red kite population, is the source of immense local pride. The birds have been adopted by schools and used to promote local businesses.

The local buses are decorated with red kites images ....

.... there are red kite walks all over the Derwent Country Park, where you are almost guaranteed to see at least one of these fabulous birds whenever you visit..

.... there are Red Kite Country road signs .....

... red kite themed events like this fitness walk

... red kite public art, like this magnificent wood carving by local chain-saw maestro Tommy Craggs..

..... without doubt, the reintroduction of these birds has done wonders for the region

* * * * * 

The second beer is this delightful Sky Dancer golden ale by the Bowland Brewery, the perfect pint for a sunny summer afternoon. 

It celebrates the wonderful hen harrier that does, from time to time, attempt to breed on moorland in the Forest of Bowland in Cumbria.

As the bottle label says:

The Forest of Bowland is an important breeding ground for the rare and beautiful hen harrier - known locally as the Sky Dancer because of its elaborate flying displays.

There's some YouTube footage of their aerial antics here

The problem is that your chances of witnessing these displays are very slim because the Forest of Bowland, which should be perfect habitat for them, has been a disaster area for this persecuted bird.

You can read all about it in this Guardian article by Patrick Barkham 

Or visit YouTube to see at BBC Programme about 10 years of illegal persecution of these birds

The beer is wonderful though. Highly recommended!

*  *  *  *  *

So there you have it. In one case, an enlightened community that has welcomed the return of a raptor that has brought pride, pleasure and economic benefit to the North East.

And on the other side of the Pennines ..... well, read that excellent newspaper article and watch the YouTube report and judge for yourself.


  1. What a contrast! Poor sky dancers:( I was in the Valley of Flowers in the Himalayas last week and saw a number of harriers there. I wonder if they have stories too!

  2. Great to see how the Red Kites have sparked many imaginations. Good for trade and hopefully good for nature also. The carving is fabulous.


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