We have had a several reports of a large bird of prey flying over Medway. Normally we would only expect to see Kestrels, which are fairly small and can be spotted hovering over our road verges, or the occasional Buzzard, which are much bigger with broad wings and a wedge shaped tail.
Recently, we have had a new visitor; the Red Kite. This was once extremely rare having been persecuted until almost extinct in the UK by the beginning of the 20th century. Then in the late 1980s a reintroduction programme was started which is now proving to be very successful. For example, for those of us who have driven along the M40 towards Oxford will have seen them flying over the motorway often in big numbers.
Ten years ago Red Kites were occasionally seen in Kent and caused great excitement. By 2017, however, there were reports from 15 different locations. Since then numbers have been gradually increasing and Medway is just another place they can now be seen.
They have a distinctive reddish brown body, angled wings stretching from 175cm to 195 cm, and a deeply forked tail. Despite their size they mainly eat carrion and worms, only occasionally catching small mammals.
Another good news conservation story!