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Why red kites are on the increase in Norfolk

Red kite at NWT Cley Marshes. Pic by Chris Mills.

Red kite at NWT Cley Marshes. Pic by Chris Mills.

Chris Mills

Recent weeks have seen numerous sightings of the spectacular birds of prey, which have a wingspan of nearly 6ft.

A number have been soaring over Brancaster Staithe, while they have also been spotted over Ingoldisthorpe and Snettisham.

Carrion-eating kites were once so common they scavenged London’s streets. But by the 1930s, persecution drove them to the brink of extinction.

Now there are said to be around 3,000 breeding pairs. Paul Stanicliffe, from the Thetford-based British Trust for Ornitholgy, said: “The red kite is on the increase - the reintroduction schemes around the UK have been hugely successful and birds have been moving out from them. The red kite is largely a carrion feeder and does very well feeding on roadkill.

“It is difficult to say how many red kites there are in Norfolk, however, the largest count was of 30 individuals at a winter roost in North Norfolk.”

The birds are easy to identify as they gracefully soar in search of their next meal. Apart from their colour, they are the only large bird of prey which has a forked tail.

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