Newbie (pls be gentle!) - bird of prey question

Morning all.

I am fortunate enough to be able to walk straight up the South Downs from the house.  Late afternoon yesterday I took one of the kids and dog for a walk (and my camera kit to get photos of the new lambs).  At the top of the downs it felt like we started to be ‘tracked’ by a group of 3 or so of these birds.   Ive promised to find out for my daughter what they are. They were soaring to quite a height and then could travel fairly quickly laterally and down.  They are way, way bigger than a kestrel.  They look more eagle like but onbbioilsy wont be an eagle in Sussex. 

im guessing it will be fairly obvious to seasoned RSPB’ers!  Any help appreciated. apologies for low res photos - uploaded via my phone in the field 

  • Good morning Hey DXB. No need to be diffident, we don't bite.
    What you have there are Red Kites - beautiful birds and masters of the skies. They were reintroduced to the Chilterns over twenty years ago after being virtually extinct except for Wales. Since then they have thrived and there are now viable populations all over the country. I live in the Thames Valley and see them every day.
    A very nice set of photos

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    Regards,Tony

    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Welcome to the forum! It looks like it could be a red kite to me. Beautiful bird!
  • Ahh - thanks Tony. That didn’t take long! That’s great - we can research now. We haven’t been here long and embarrassingly, with the current situation and time on our hands, it’s really first time we’ve been out and about.
    I’ll reassure the daughter they aren’t big enough to attack her or the terrier!
  • Thanks Berty. Photographer by day, but never wildlife before, sadly a bit more commercial. Now with a few weeks on my hands I’m guessing will be a few more of these!
  • I should have added that although most Red Kites are resident I understand that some do migrate to the UK from France each Spring. As you are in the South Downs it is possible that these are migrants.
    They are primarily scavengers and not very powerful.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Regards,Tony

    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Welcome.... as Tony says, we don't bite :o)
    Fabulous pictures, they are few and far between down here in Dorset.
  • What a lovely experience for your daughter, they are such beautiful birds. It's interesting that you felt as if they were 'tracking' you, i've always found Red Kites to be pretty inquisitive birds who will often drift over to check you out, unlike other birds of prey which will head in the opposite direction pretty quickly at the first hint of a human. Keep your eye out on your walks, return migration is under way so you will undoubtedly see an increase in birds in the coming weeks. And don't hesitate to post any here that you're not sure of, we're only too happy to help!
  • Hello Hey DXB,m welcome form up in the very far north of Scotland, in Caithness. What lovely photos of the Red Kite you have taken. I have never seen one, we don't have them up here. Hope you enjoy here.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.