Saturday, 11 January 2014

154. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Red Kites are an oft-cited example of a conservation success story in the UK, and why the hell not - at one point they were restricted to a small area of Wales, and now thanks to various reintroduction programmes around the country they are plentiful once more. I remember seeing one in the Black Mountains in Wales on a family holiday around 1990ish and being MEGA EXCITED, now I still get excited when I see one but it happens a lot more often! In fact it's more than likely I'll see a few tomorrow en route to, or at, Rutland Water. Hurrah!

Red Kites are very distinctive, with their long narrow wings, deeply forked tail and bright colours - a black-streaked silver head and rufous underparts and tail. They feed on carrion so don't need to be bulky and muscular to catch prey, so they are quite slim. In Europe, they are quite widely distributed but mostly in central and southerly parts, and the more northerly populations are migratory, although they don't go far - to southern Europe or Morocco. Their preferred habitat is hilly country interspersed with woodland.

Red Kite, ©Wilfbuck, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Red Kite painting.

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