Kites are probably one the most successful wildlife conservation efforts the UK has seen. They are now a “green” listed species, which is a massive increase from only a small population in Wales.
These beautiful birds were widespread across the UK dating back to the Victorian times however were heavily persecuted as it was commonly believed they were capable of stealing lambs.
If you’ve ever seen a kite you’ll know it’s simply not possible that they could lift one. Their main prey is carrion, though they will take small mammals. I have on occasion seen pictures of them fishing as well – mimicking an Osprey.
The Kites were persecuted to the point of near extinction in the 1900s due to the above beliefs. A way of reducing the population quite substantially was to leave a poisoned corpse of a sheep or pony, which the Kites would then scavenge and be killed in huge numbers.
They could easily kill 150 birds in one go – quite shocking really, especially considering it was based on an unsubstantiated claim that they were capable of snatching lambs!
In Dumfries and Galloway there is a dedicated Red Kite trail, which brings millions in tourist revenue every year with people eager to witness these agile birds in flight. Watching the Kites is extremely special and I love listening to their call when I walk up to the hide where we go locally to see them.
They’re so common in parts of England some lucky people get them in their garden! Though – much like feeding the Ducks and Geese bread it’s led to people feeding them wide varieties of unsuitable food.
Clare volunteers sometimes at Argaty, giving the talk to those attending the feeding sessions so if you would like any more information please contact us or Argaty direct for more information. As this is not an RSPB reserve the day to day running costs of the project are funded entirely from visitors’ contributions.
Argaty Red Kites
Lerrocks, Doune, Perthshire, FK16 6EJ, Scotland