These stunning birds of prey were once mistakenly considered vermin in the UK and as a result were almost hunted to extinction. It was thought that they competed for food, in particular game, so were often shot, poisoned or trapped. Their eggs were also taken by poachers.
Human persecution of red kites was unwarranted; their diet consists of carrion, earthworms and small mammals – mice, rats and the like. Fortunately a long-term reintroduction programme has seen colonies develop in several areas including the Shropshire/Herefordshire/Welsh borders. During a recent journey I saw at least ten kites soaring over the Powys countryside and they can often be seen over a stretch of the M40 motorway in Oxfordshire. They are adept at riding air currents and easily spotted in flight due to their distinctive forked tail.