Red Kites


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Red Kites

  • Living not far from Harewood in North Yorkshire, we see lots of Red Kites and never tire of them being ever-present, but I was absolutely astonished to see one gliding down the path on the edge of the woods behind our house last week! They are truly impressive birds but I had no idea exactly how big they were, they are usually so high - it's wingspan was about 5 feet  -  the length of our sofa!

    My son told me that one came through the forest straight at him when he was out on his mountain bike in the summer - he described the size and to be honest, I didn't really believe him... but I do now!

    I think it must be getting pretty crowded at Harewood now, the last count showed well over a hundred. I'm rather hoping that the youngsters are looking for pastures new. We live in woodland that backs on to arable fields and grazing and a golf course, so plenty of carrion to be had.

    Can't wait for Spring - excited now!


    Lizzie :-)

  • Hi Lizzie

    Wow that must have been a sight to behold. Well done you. :-)

    Here is the UK Red Kites site for more info. :-)

  • Lizzie,   I always describe young red kites in trhe same way I would describe children - when they get to a certain age they leave home only for parents to find they are on a piece of elastic and keep bouncing back home to live for a while.   Young red kites do wander but tend to return to the original area to breed.  This why the release area tends to appear to get full up. 

     I suspect that some feeding is going on which will hold the birds in the area.  Eventually the population will spread and other centres of population will appear. 

  • When I was up in the Elan Valley in Wales I was lucky enough to see a pair of Kites about 10 yards away soaring at the same height as I was at. I also was amazed how big they are close up. 



  • Hi Lizzie

    They are really gorgeous birds and I'm sure you will get a lot of pleasure from watching them. Both Woodpecker and I live in the Thames Vallley where there is a large population and we see them overhead every day. I probably shouldn't do this but I can tempt them down into the garden with chicken scraps. Very impressive sight when they come down.

    I try not to do it too often because as Bob says, this can discourage them from spreading and colonising new areas. However, they are being seen now well away from their original area of reintroduction so they seem to be thriving.

    Regards TJ

  • Absolutely fantastic pic, TJ.



  • Hi TeeJay wow lovely photo and think we would all tempt them in the garden if they were in our area but the south west has got left behind by the R K.

  • I am not going to be popular for this post... but bear with me... about 10 or so years ago I used to have to travel up and down the M40 a lot and used to love seeing them... would always point them out to any passengers I had with me and impart knowledge about them... it was always such a special treat to see them... 

    now, through no fault apart from their own success, I find that I am saying 'oh look, another red kite'... instead of stopping and taking time to admire them.. I think it is a case of familiarity breeding contempt... which is a real shame :( 

    but what I don't understand is this... I don't do this with Robins or Wrens or the like... I go positively loopy if I see a Greenfinch, it makes my day. I saw some Nuthatches on the feeders the other day and was delighted.

    I don't know.. for what is a mightily impressive bird I find myself not mightily impressed any more :(

    I am very glad though that everyone else gets excited about them still... wish I was! :)



    Hi TeeJay wow lovely photo and think we would all tempt them in the garden if they were in our area but the south west has got left behind by the R K.


    Sooty,  I think you are probably right.  we now have about 20 plus breeding pairs in Wiltshire but it has taken a long time to see them get here from the Chilterns.  I live near the M4 outside Swindon and can expect to see one any day I go east.   Their spread west is slow and suspect it wll sometime before you can call them a regular in your area.

  • Fantastic photo Teejay, extremely jealous, lol!!

    Personally I will never get tired of them, they are incredible, majestic and the even the thought of them gives me goose bumps.

    I live in East Herts and we get one over every now and then and there is a village 5 miles away with a pair that have bred for the last 3 years. Most weeks I go to an area near Hitchin, Herts were there is quite a hot spot building up, the last 2 weeks there I have seen a minimum of 10 birds on each occasion. Also there is another reasonable place around Royston.

    If you are a Kite fan a visit to Watlington Hill is a must. Last year my daugther and I went in mid March and we did take some food scraps, within a few minutes they were calling to each other and birds appeared from all around us. At one point they were landing in the car park. We counted in the region of 50 birds at any one time. The noise of their wings as they swooped in the pick up the food was so loud. We even saw 2 birds passing food in flight, you can just see 2 small pieces of food being dropped in the photo below.


    I have read that if you want to feed the Kites it is better to feed in the afternoon, this ensures that they have already hunted and are not reliant on people. To think these birds within my lfetime (47) have been to the brink of extinction and back is amazing, I can't wait for the day when one lands in my garden, maybe within the next 10 years, fingers crossed.

    Happy Kite watching.


  • Lizzie your Kites are certainly spreading we get them up Nidderdale now and in the Washburn Valley and we know of at least 2 pair breeding last year N.of Harrogate.

    TJ,what a great bird to have in the grden,beats out Bullfinches all ends up.

  • Hi TJ

    What an awesome shot of your visiting red kite. I understand exactly what you mean about not doing it too often as it might stop them from spreading out to other areas. However, on the other hand, they could get hit by a car while landing to eat some road kill.

    Also, you can be sure that others are putting out meat scraps for them, as I see my local birds flying overhead with chicken leg bones in their claws.

  • Hi Niknac

    You also have some excellent shots of red kites there too. Well done you!

  • Hi

    I live in South Bucks, near the M40, and I have Red Kites flying over our rooftops and the neighbouring fields. I love watching them and hearing them call to each other and after 3 years of living here, I have not tired of them. If I have been away anywhere, the sight of a Red Kite flying over head while I am driving means that I am nearly home.

  • Some wonderful pictures on here.  I saw my first one in Wales about 5 years ago - very exciting!  Now I see them flying over my sister's house in St. Albans!  Still exciting, as far as I am concerned!  They are magnificent birds.