Only 20 years ago I had to travel to Wales to see red kites.
A majestic looking bird that feeds mainly on carrion and was once common all over London, and other cities where refuse was to be found! After years of persecution they had become extinct in England.
Then in 1989 and over the next few years 90 birds were reintroduced to England from Spanish stock. The birds were released in the Chilterns, and initially placed into wooden release pens on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border before being set free. The first successful breeding in the Chilterns took place in 1992, and since then numbers have steadily increased to approximately 400/500 breeding pairs. If you drive the M40 you will see red kites.
Other reintroduction programs continue but all are in the midlands and north of England and Scotland.
So I was thrilled to see a red kite on my way to work this morning. I live on the South coast and although we have lots of buzzards now, I’ve never seen a red kite this far south. I was so excited that I stopped the car and took some (pretty bad) photos! It was an exciting start to the morning and I shall be watching out in future and no longer assuming a large bird of prey is a buzzard, it would be lovely if red kites are breeding here in Sussex.
Find out more about the red kite at the RSPB Website