A dad has told how he was enjoying a pub lunch with his family when a hungry bird dived down and swiped a steak off their table.
Jez Elkins, 54, from Didcot, was with his son and three-year-old granddaughter at the Station Garden when the red kite swooped down with a noise like a “brick hitting the table” as it made off with the freshly cooked steak.
He said that he had his head down as he was looking at a colouring pad belonging to his granddaughter when the bird of prey flew “within 10 inches” of his son Callum’s face, reported OxfordshireLive.
“Callum was shocked,” he said.
“I had my head down on the table at the time, so I missed the highlight. But there were about 25 people in the beer garden when it happened and they were all surprised.
“I just heard what sounded like someone had thrown a brick or a concrete block at the table. I had one heart attack in November, and I really don’t need another one!
“It was lucky that my granddaughter had stepped away from the table. She’d gone to the play area and it could have been much, much worse if shed’ have been there.”
Jez said that Callum had finished his meal but hadn’t eaten his steak, which clearly looked tempting for the red kite.
“But the kite quite liked the look of the steak,” he continued.
“I thought they were too big and cumbersome to swoop like that but it was so quick. I had my head down, and the next thing I know it had knocked three glasses off the table.
“Luckily they were all empty, but it made such a loud noise. I’ve never seen them that close to people.”
The red kite is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, having come close to national extinction in the 1980s.
And Jez believes that because people are now feeding the birds, they have grown more accustomed to human interaction.
He added: “Obviously they were bred to avoid them going extinct, but there’s just too many of them now. It’s gone the other way.
“The thing is that people are feeding them now. So they’re getting braver around people.
“It was just good timing that my granddaughter wasn’t there. At that age, it could’ve been quite distressing.”