Red Kite is the comeback king

credit for image goes to David Tomlinson

credit for image goes to David Tomlinson

The Red Kite is a medium sized bird of prey known for its striking red plumage and black wing tips as well as a long forked tail. They feed largely on carrion, small mammals and birds. They are mostly sedentary birds and do not often migrate although they have been known to migrate from the UK to places such as Spain during particularly cold winters.

The Red Kite is often used as success story for coming back from the brink of extinction. At the end of the last century, it was thought these magnificent birds of prey would disappear from the UK forever. The kites were seen as a threat to the ever-expanding world of agriculture and were therefore hunted ferociously. Decline in population numbers only worsened the kites’ outlook, as they became the target of egg collectors and taxidermists.

They were pushed so far that at a time only one delicate breeding population remained, in Mid Wales. It is even thought that perhaps all the UK red kites seen today can be traced back to just one breeding pair. Thanks to huge conservation efforts the populations in Wales started to recover and were reintroduced into areas of England and Scotland where we are now seeing populations thrive, with sightings across the country.

The birds have spread across Wales and in England the reintroduced birds can now be found in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Gateshead, Northumberland and Grizedale Forest in Cumbria. The Scottish population is centred around the release sites in Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling-shire and west Perthshire, Black Isle in Ross-shire, and on the outskirts of Aberdeen City. Kites have also now returned to Northern Ireland. It is estimated there are now as many as 1,800 breeding pairs across the UK.

Red Kite spotted in Huby, Yorkshire sent in to us by Andy Kenyon

Red Kite spotted in Huby, Yorkshire sent in to us by Andy Kenyon

Red Kite spotted in Wiltshire sent in to us by Jenny Grewal

Red Kite spotted in Wiltshire sent in to us by Jenny Grewal

Red Kite spotted in Mid Wales sent in to us by Claire Montanaro

Red Kite spotted in Mid Wales sent in to us by Claire Montanaro

Let’s hope these magnificent creatures continue to flourish and don’t forget to keep sending us your snaps.

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Madeleine Berry

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