The Red Kite Returns

6. Chasing (1)

In 1989, the Nature Conservancy Council (now known in England as 'Natural England') and the RSPB launched a project to reintroduce the red kite back into England and Scotland.

After strict criteria set out by the World Conservation Union was fulfilled, kite chicks were brought into the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from Spain, where there was a healthy productive population of kites (A programme was also taking place on the Black Isle, Northern Scotland).

Over a period of five years, more than 90 birds were brought into the Chilterns and initially placed into wooden release pens on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. After a period of several weeks, and succesful health checks, the the kites were then released into the wild.

The first successful breeding in the Chilterns took place in 1992, and since then numbers have steadily increased to approximately 400/500 breeding pairs. The kites are still actively monitored by experienced volunteers.


Following the success of the initial Chilterns project, and the Black Isle project, further reintroductions have taken place in various locations including

East Midlands


Central Scotland (Argaty)

Dumfries & Galloway


Aberdeen (ongoing)

The latest projects are taking place in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The chicks released in Ireland and Northern Ireland have been collected from Welsh stock. Click here to go to the weblinks page for links to the various projects


When collecting chicks to be relocated, there is always at least one chick left remaining in the donor nest from where it was collected.

The birds are initially kept in a holding pen, then translocated to their new location. They are held in large pre release pens at a secret release site, and after a few weeks are eventually released into the open countryside, once they have been given a clean bill of health by veterinary officials.

The Chilterns kite population has provided almost 270 chicks since 1997 to various locations, including more than 90 chicks translocated to the North East for release in the Derwent Valley just outside Gateshead.

Fifteen chicks were collected in 2007 and 20 chicks were collected in 2008 from nests in the Chilterns, and translocated to Aberdeen. The chicks were succesfully released in July and August. The project has one more year remaining.

The reintroduction programme in the Chilterns has been a huge success, and has received ongoing support from local people including farmers, landowners and gamekeepers.

A wing-tagged chick released in Aberdeen

Photo: A young kite destined for release near Aberdeen in the summer of 2008

© Helen Olive