27 Jan 2022

Red kites - A unique Chilterns Landmark

BY John Gebbels  

Visitors to the Chilterns often stop to gaze up at the skies. Their exclamations of wonder can baffle locals who have become so accustomed to the sight, but to those less initiated into 'Chilterns life' the discovery of our swooping and soaring Red kite population can be quite something! 

These large birds of prey were once almost extinct in the United Kingdom, save for a very small population in rural Wales. However through the early 1990s a programme of reintroduction at Wormsley, the Getty family's Buckinghamshire estate, proved most successful. 

In partnership with Sir Paul Getty, the RSPB and Natural England the reintroduction has resulted in what is now thought to be around 1,800 breeding pairs across the the United Kingdom. 

Our feathered friends can often be seen in numbers riding on thermals created by the M40 through the Chiltern Hills. Summer reports of sandwiches stolen straight from unsuspecting hands, and even the occasional disappearance of small garden pets, leads many locals to discourage feeding. On the whole however the birds are regarded as a welcome local spectacle. 

For more information on these impressive local birds of prey, and the Wormsley estate itself, please see the below links: