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Red Kites

In the first week of this year on two successive days I saw a kite over Long Compton churchyard being harassed by crows in some fine displays of aerobatics. I think as we welcome spring an adventurous pair will take up residence in the Long Compton/Barton valley and we will record 2015 as the year of the return of the Red Kite after its absence from possibly as long ago as the late 18th Century.

Red Kites usually breed for the first time at two to three years old and usually pair for life. Nests are built almost exclusively in trees, mostly in hardwoods such as oaks at a height of between 4 and 30 metres above the ground. Nests are flat, untidy structures of sticks about 2 feet in width. Courtship and nest-building usually start in earnest during March, about two to four weeks before the first egg is laid. Red Kites are not aggressive hunters and thrive mostly by scavenging on road kill and other dead animals so we might see them feeding on verges as the weather warms up.

John Castle

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