The Barn Hill Conservation Group August Newsletter has reported sightings of Red Kites over Fryent Country Park.
Pete Stevens of the Southern England Kite Group told me that this is not the first sighting over London of these magnificent birds but I think it is the first in our area.
He told me that young kites in their first year often explore away from their home territory and that probably accounts for the sighting. They tend to return to the area where they fledged to nest but suggested local naturalists should listen out for them calling to each other if they are seen in the Spring. This was one indicator of them nesting in the area.
Red kites were driven to extinction in England by human persecution by the end of the nineteenth century. A small population survived in Wales, but there was little chance of these birds repopulating their original areas.
Between 1989 and 1994, kites from Spain were imported and released into the Chilterns by the RSPB and English Nature (now Natural England). Red kites started breeding in the Chilterns in 1992 and now there could be over 1,000 breeding pairs in the area. The reintroduction has been so successful it is not possible to monitor all the nests, so the overall size of the population can only be estimated. Source
Where to see Red Kites
Reports of sightings can be made directly to the Southern England Kite Group via their website www.sekg.org.uk or by calling Pete Stevens on 07761 205 833