Saturday, 30 January 2016

Bird of the week - Red kite

The reintroduction of the red kite is one of the great successes stories in British bird conservation.  Thirty years ago the UK red kite population had dwindled to a few dozen birds in mid Wales as a result of persecution, poisoning, egg theft etc.  The first releases were of almost 200 birds of Swedish and Spanish origin in Scotland and England in 1989-1994 and the birds started breeding in 1992.  Further releases took place in England and Scotland including Harewood in Yorkshire from 1999 and the Derwent Valley in County Durham from 2004.  These photos were taken in Harewood.

The red kite's aerial agility is astonishing.  Whatever the attitude of its wings and tail, the eyes are always fixed ahead. The tail often moves completely independently of the wings.

This graph from BirdTrends shows the increase in population.
The Bird Atlas maps show the wide areas of repopulation, centred around reintroduction sites.

The red kite is Milvus milvus, milvus meaning a kite.

You can read more about the reintroduction of red kites here and listen to Sir David Attenborough's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on red kites here.


  1. Ah, just answered my own question when I logged in to your site. we have similar photos... what a surprise!! good to meet you.

    1. Thanks Adrienne. It was a pleasure to meet you both. Weather permitting, I'm planning to call in on the kites again in the next couple of weeks, this time with a more appropriate camera and lens. Chris