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Red Kites Species Recovery Programme

Any bird watchers fortunate enough to have visited France for the World Cup in 1998 recently may have noticed the Red or Black Kites in wooded, hilly areas.
Perhaps they have also been struck by just how abundant they were as they soared over the ground like buzzards, swooping and diving after flying insects or grabbing small rodents off the ground, seemingly oblivious to the close proximity of farmers working in their fields near by.
A week ago, we provided temporary help, in this case some dead rabbits from our freezer, for the latest importation of two dozen Red Kites from what used to be East Germany.
At this moment, these are being released under controlled conditions in central Scotland as part of an European Community (EC) species recovery programme. In 10 or 15 years' time, at the present successful rate of establishment, it should be possible to see Red Kites the length and breadth of Britain, just as they once were before in medieval times.
Around landfill sites in France, I have seen over 200 kites at a time, with between 40 and 50 sitting together on a dead tree.


Red Kite Reintroduction 10-Year Anniversary

July 22, 1999 was the 10th anniversary of the reintroduction of Red Kites, a large predatory hawk-like bird into Scotland.
The last were wiped out in 1887 by egg collectors and gamekeepers in Wales. A few hung on, but in poor marginal habitat where they rarely did very well . In 1989, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds imported six from nests in Southern Sweden and released these on the Black Isle, north of Inverness a very fertile area.
In 1999, the programme appears to have been a complete success with an established population of 30 breeding pairs fledging 54 chicks from 23 nests.
Since 1989, a total of 223 chicks have been fledged from Red Kite nests in the Black Isle. The birds have now been reintroduced to parts of Central Scotland and England where they seem certain to do equally well.