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Donkin's World: Red Kites In The Chilterns

Richard Donkin tells of a succesful breeding programme to restore a once-rare bird to the Chilterns.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

I don't know the Chilterns very well but I do see a lot of Red Kites there when travelling on the M40. So yesterday it was good to watch them from a footpath.

A few of my rugby chums were gathering ahead of the England v France match and one of them, Stuart Fletcher, invited us on one of his guided walks - an 11-mile hike from Great Missenden to High Wycombe.

You can't walk anywhere in the Chilterns these days without seeing lots of Red Kites. They dominate all the other bird life. But there weren't any here at all until about 1992 when a breeding pair were brought over from West Wales.

The breeding programme has been phenomenally successful and although there are still tagged birds in the area, far more of them are untagged. The Chilterns is thought to have between 400 and 500 breeding pairs today. It's one of those programmes where there is no longer any need to collect sightings, other than tracking how the birds are extending their range. I hope it won't be long before they reach Surrey.


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