Red kites: the ‘majestic’ six-foot birds that people are spotting more than ever in Kent
People seem to be seeing ‘majestic’ red kites more and more frequently in Kent.
With a wingspan of up to two meters, experts describe it as a “beautifully graceful bird of prey” with its “unmistakable” reddish-brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail.
But around 30 years ago they were on the verge of extinction in the UK.
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At that time only a handful remained in a small population in Wales.
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Fast forward to today and they are being spotted with increasing frequency right here in the Garden of England.
Most of the sightings reported appear to be from the Faversham area.
Experts told KentLive that one of the reasons for this was that – given that they are scavengers rather than predators – the huge birds enjoy the wooded areas on the outskirts of towns and villages.
They said those spotted over Kent may have come from the mainland or resident populations of the reintroduction programs, the closest being in the Chilterns, just north of London.
Paul Hadaway, Director of Conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “Red kites are a conservation success story and it’s exciting that people are starting to see them now in Kent.
“Thirty years ago, after decades of persecution, they had become confined to a small population in Wales, but these majestic birds are once again making England their home thanks to a number of very successful reintroduction projects. and pioneers.
“The birds seen in Kent are probably mainland birds crossing the English Channel and mixing with the birds which have continued to spread and colonize new territories.
“They are characterized by a forked tail, plunging, soaring and sometimes low flight on long wings and are scavengers rather than predators by nature, which makes them ideally suited to our lowland habitats.
“They have adapted well to life around us and are seen on the outskirts of towns and villages and where they have good areas of trees to roost in. It is very likely that we will see more of them in Kent over the course of the year. the next few years. “
“Greatest Species Conservation Achievement in UK”
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was the organization in charge of the reintroduction programs.
Jeff Knott, RSPB’s director of operations for central and eastern England, told KentLive: “In the 1980s, anyone who wanted to see a red kite had to make a special pilgrimage to a handful of sites. .
“Today is a daily spectacle for millions of people.
“Within decades we have brought a species to the brink of extinction, with the UK home to nearly 10% of the world’s population.
“This is perhaps the greatest species achievement in UK conservation history and a truly wonderful sight for people.”