With the Chilterns Tourism Net­work

MARY TEBJE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - WHAT’S ON THIS WEEKEND - MARY TEBJE

LATE au­tumn is the best time to see the red kites as they soar over the Chiltern Hills. They have fin­ished moult­ing and are look­ing very smart, es­pe­cially on bright days when the sun lights up their rich rus­set feath­ers.

From Wen­dover and Princes Ris­bor­ough and south past High Wy­combe and into South Ox­ford­shire there are many places where there’s a good chance you’ll see them.

Once common across Great Bri­tain, red kites were ubiq­ui­tous scav­engers that lived on car­rion and rub­bish. In the mid-15th cen­tury King James II of Scot­land de­creed that they should be ‘killed wher­ever pos­si­ble’ but they re­mained pro­tected in Eng­land and Wales for the next 100 years as they kept the streets free of car­rion and rot­ting food.

Un­der Tu­dor ‘ver­min laws’ many crea­tures were seen as com­peti­tors for the pro­duce of the coun­try­side and boun­ties were paid by the parish for their car­casses and by the end of the 19th cen­tury, just a hand­ful of birds re­mained in Wales.

It wasn’t un­til the early 1990’s when the Royal So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Birds and English Na­ture led a pro­gramme to re-in­tro­duce red kites to the Chilterns. It was so suc­cess­ful, there are now an es­ti­mated 300 breed­ing pairs and kites are once again a common and much-loved fea­ture of the area and birds have been re­lo­cated from the Chilterns to oth­ers parts of the UK to es­tab­lish new breed­ing colonies.

There are a num­ber of places to see the kites at this time of year, but my favourite takes you through the heart of red kite coun­try, in the se­cluded Rad­nage Val­ley near West Wy­combe. There is a down­load­able guide for this route from the Chilterns Con­ser­va­tion Board web­site: www.chiltern­saonb.org/up­loads/files/Walks_ and_ Rides/Red_ Kite_Walks.pdf

Please share your top picks for lo­cal places to eat in and ex­pe­ri­ences to en­joy. You will find us on twit­ter @Vis­itChilterns, Pin­ter­est pin­ter­est. com/vis­itchilterns and In­sta­gram in­sta­gram.com/ thechilterns and if you use the #Chilterns hash­tag, we’ll share the best of your con­tri­bu­tions.

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