“I don’t like red kites,” says one Chilterns resident of our acquaintance. “Too many of them, and they make that horrible whistling sound.”
It’s a point of view. There may now be over 1,000 breeding pairs of red kites in the Chilterns, so it isn’t possible to monitor all the nests and give an accurate figure for the local population. And they do make quite a bit of noise as they wheel merrily overhead.
The irony is that there may be “too many” red kites here because of an extremely successful programme of reintroducing them between 1989 and 1994, using birds from Spain. The reason for needing to reintroduce them? The English had hunted red kites to extinction by the end of the 19th century, because of the belief that they killed lambs and gamebirds. So if we hadn’t done that in the first place…
Image of red kite courtesy of Joe Pell via Flickr