Red kites flying high again

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 June, 2009, 12:00am

A revival of Britain's red kite population, previously facing extinction, has been so successful that the birds are now being exported to other parts of Europe.

Dee Doody, a field worker at the Welsh Kite Trust, says Wales has seen unprecedented growth in red kite numbers this year. Last year there were 53 pairs, but so far this year he has counted 86 pairs, 71 of which have gone on to lay eggs. He cites more food, less persecution and a growing gene pool as key factors.

The killing of red kites began in the 1800s. By 1932, there were only two pairs left in Wales. In 1989, a reintroduction scheme run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began bringing them back.

Spain has seen a decline of about 50 per cent in red kite numbers since 1994, while in parts of France numbers have fallen 80 per cent since 1980. Egg stealing and hunting kites have been outlawed since 1979.