Original article from Kent Live
People appear to be spotting 'majestic' red kites with increasing frequency in Kent.
With a wing span of up to two metres, experts describe them as a "magnificently graceful bird of prey" with its "unmistakable" reddish-brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail.
But around 30 years ago, they were on the point of extinction in the UK.
At that time just a handful remained in a tiny population in Wales.
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Fast forward to today and they are being spotted with increasing frequency right here in the Garden of England.
Most reported sightings seem to come from the Faversham area.
Experts told KentLive one reason for this was that – given they are scavenger rather than predator – the huge birds enjoy wooded areas on the fringes of towns and villages.
They said the ones spotted over Kent could have come from either the continent or from resident populations from reintroduction programmes, the nearest being in the Chilterns just north of London.
Paul Hadaway, director of conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust said: “Red kites are a conservation success story and it’s thrilling that people are starting to spot them now in Kent.
"Thirty years ago, after decades of persecution they had become confined to a tiny population in Wales but these majestic birds are making England their home once again thanks to a number of very successful and pioneering reintroduction projects.
"The birds seen in Kent are likely birds from the continent travelling across the Channel and mixing with the birds which have continued to spread and colonise new territories.
"They are characterised by a forked tail, a swooping, soaring and sometimes low wheeling flight on long wings and are scavenger rather than predator by nature, making them perfectly adapted to our downland habitats.
"They have adapted well to living alongside us, and are seen on the fringes of towns and villages and where they have good areas of trees to roost. It’s very likely we’ll see more of them in Kent over the coming years.”
'Biggest species success story in UK conservation'
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was the organisation in charge of the reintroduction programmes.
Jeff Knott, RSPB operations director for Central and Eastern England, told KentLive: “In the 1980s, anyone wanting to see a red kite had to make a special pilgrimage to a handful of sites.
"Today it is a daily sight for millions of people.
"In a few short decades we have taken a species from the brink of extinction, to the UK being home to almost 10 per cent of the entire world population.
"It might be the biggest species success story in UK conservation history and a truly wonderful sight for people to enjoy.”