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Red kite in flight is Tower Hamlets biodiversity officer’s delight

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 May 2012 | UPDATED: 17:05 15 May 2012

Red kite (picture: RSPB archive)

Red kite (picture: RSPB archive)

RSPB

A Red Kite has made a rare appearance in East London today flying up-river along the Thames.

The bird of prey with its distinctive dark red plumage and long fork tail was spotted by the Tower Hamlets biodiversity team above East India Dock Basin nature reserve at Blackwall this-morning.

It then headed westward and was reported over Canary Wharf, then above the Tower of London.

The nearest breeding and hunting grounds are the Chiltern Hills 30 miles west.

Red kites occasionally come as far as east London foraging in parkland for worms and grubs. The last time the biodiversity team spotted one was a year ago.

They became extinct in most of Britain in the last century after hundreds of years of being hunted as unwanted scavengers—only a handful remained in Wales.

But they’re making a big comeback after a successful programme to reintroduce them in 1989, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

“The colonies in the Chilterns are now the most densely populated in Europe,” said RSPB environment officer Graham Madge.

“They were common in Shakespeare’s day scavenging on the streets of London—soon we’ll have more after they were reintroduced more than 20 years ago.”

Red kites are used to human contact, but the RSPB is concerned about the protected species after several were found poisoned on the ground in Bedfordshire this week.


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