It’s a beautiful glider and a beautiful bird, when you see its red, orange and grey plumage in close-up. The red kite is now fast expanding its Scottish range, after decades of absence. Look for it in parts of the Highlands and southern Scotland.
What to look for
Red kites have long wings and fairly light bodies, so they can glide with ease for long periods. The deeply forked, very manoeuvrable, tail (used as a rudder to fine-tune flight moves) is the most distinctive feature, especially when a kite is silhouetted overhead.
Red kites are making a strong comeback in Scotland, following re-introduction using Swedish youngsters from the late 1980s onwards. Launch-pad for the Scottish re-intro (there’s been another one in England) was the Black isle, near Inverness. More recently, further schemes have seen the return of red kites to Perthshire and the south of Scotland.
When and where to see
Year-round over farmland in parts of the Highlands, Perthshire and the south of Scotland.
The Black Isle just north of Inverness: remote viewing at the North Kessock information centre in summer. Keep an eye on the sky if you’re using the A9 trunk road across the peninsula, between North Kessock, Tore and Dingwall. In central Scotland, go the kite feeding station at Argaty on the Braes of Doune. In the South West try out the Galloway Kite Trail with a feeding station at Bellymack Hill Farm, near Laurieston.
For more information see the RSPB's red kite page.