Thursday, April 23rd 2020
Andrew Gillings, a Foxglove supporter, is a fan of Red Kites and has kindly shared some of his best photographs with us (they were all taken before the current restrictions) and not at Foxglove although over the years there has been the odd sighting of a Red Kite passing over the reserve.
This magnificently graceful bird of prey is unmistakable with its reddish-brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail. They are huge birds with a wingspan of nearly two metres, but a relatively small body weight of 2 – 3 Ibs. They were saved from national extinction by one of the world's longest-running protection programmes. They have now been successfully re-introduced to England and Scotland and it is estimated that there are 1,600 breeding pairs in the UK. Red kites are listed under Schedule 1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act.
At one time confined to Wales as a result of persecution, a reintroduction scheme has brought red kites back to many parts of England and Scotland. Central Wales, central England - especially the Chilterns, central Scotland - at Argaty and along the Galloway Kite Trail are the best areas to find them. In England the reintroduced birds can be found in the Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire area, Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Gateshead and Grizedale Forest in Cumbria. Foxglove is located halfway between the Gateshead and the Yorkshire release sites and so observations are likely.
Kites eat mainly carrion and worms, but they are opportunistic and will occasionally take small mammals too. Feeding stations such as the one at Gigrin with purpose built hides provide great opportunities for photography as the number of kites visiting the feeding station can vary from a 300 to 600 or more depending on the weather and the time of year.
Our sincere thanks to Andrew for allowing us to use his striking photographs.
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