Red Kites return to skies above Gloucestershire
One of Britain’s most spectacular birds of prey, the red kite, which was driven to the edge of extinction in this country 40 years ago is breeding again in Gloucestershire.
And the confirmed sighting of a pair successfully nesting and raising chicks is the first in the county for 153 years.
The nesting pair were spotted in the Cotswolds in the west of the county this summer by lifelong birder Terry Fenton.
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Mr Fenton, who lives in Hucclecote, had been monitoring the site for at least two years before this.
He said: “In 2001 I didn’t find the nest and last year we found a nest but the birds didn’t breed. I think the very wet weather might have had something to do with it.
“This year I went back and on my second visit I crawled through a hawthorn bush so I could see the nest without disturbing the birds and I could see one sitting in the nest incubating eggs. I was really thrilled.”
Mr Fenton who works as a forester, made further visits when he ringed three chicks but he said later monitoring showed two chicks growing well but the much smaller third may not have fledged successfully.
He added: “In 1982, I worked for the Forestry Commission and I worked on monitoring the progress of goshawks reintroduced to the Forest of Dean, now 30 years on there’s another reintroduction.
“We might even see them in Cheltenham in 20 years’ time.”
Gloucestershire’s breeding pair are probably descended from red kites reintroduced into England in the Chilterns near High Wycombe, which have spread westward are commonly seen in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and the West Midlands. See glosnats.org for more details.