Red kites again

Message from Ian, Sunday April 18th:

A Red Kite appeared over Sleepers Field and settled briefly on top of the Oak in the hedge between Sleepers and Cornfield before continuing towards Lambrok Meadow. I spoke with a nearby walker who said it joined up with another over Kestrel Field; we seem to have a pair that have included the park in their territory!

Red kites were hunted to extinction in England in 1871, and in Scotland in 1879. A small population, derived from a single female bird, clung on in central Wales until, in the early 1930s, there were only two breeding pairs of red kites anywhere in the British Isles.

These few Welsh kites were watched, protected and carefully nurtured. Their population slowly began to increase until, by the end of the 1980s, there were 80 breeding pairs. At this point, the RSPB and Natural England initiated a programme of reintroduction in the Chiltern Hills in south east England; similar programmes soon followed in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Red kites from Sweden, Spain and Germany were brought in to widen the native gene pool that had been narrowed so dramatically as the species teetered on the edge. Today, there are believed to be 4,600 breeding pairs of red kites in Britain, an astonishing success story.

We can do these things; we can restore environments and reintroduce the species that have been lost. Perhaps the red kite should be the emblem of the UK’s Nature Recovery Networks.

Video from
Header picture (CC0) from

3 thoughts on “

  1. Pretty sure I saw a Red Kite on Saturday late afternoon looking from the Country Park towards the Scout Hall. It was quite high but had a real glint of red on its underbody. I’ve also seen a single Buzzard a couple off times in the last week in the Allotment area of the Park. Fingers crossed that they stay.

    1. The buzzard is a regular visitor at this time of year and we think there must be a nest nearby – but the red kites are really exciting. Pictures would be great if you (or anybody else) can manage it.

  2. Hopefully this pair of red kites will become established in Southwick’s green fields and breed. These, the rare breeds of bat and the water voles are surely good reason not to allow large scale development here.
    As you say we CAN restore environments and CAN reintroduce species that have been lost – we just need the will to do it!

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