Red Kites Get Bold in Oxfordshire
Pupils at an Oxfordshire school are being targeted by swooping red kites, according to reports. The red kites are swooping on the schoolchildren in order to steal their food. Allegedly one student at Icknield Community College in Watlington has received a nasty scratch after one of the birds attacked him whilst eating lunch in the centre of town. A farm worker said the increasingly bold kites were "sweeping up" chickens. Witnesses have also described seeing the birds perching on prams.
Red kites were introduced to the hilly Chilterns area, where Watlington lies, in the 1990s – after previously reaching extinction in England. According to the Chilterns Conservation Board, the problems stem from people feeding the birds of prey and therefore making them more reliant on taking food from others than hunting it for themselves. An officer from nearby RAF Benson has also chimed in claiming that large flocks of red kites could prove a problem for planes, being easily sucked into jet engines.
However, an RSPB conservation officer has countered criticism of the birds by saying, “There are sadly a minority out there who would love to take us back to the 19th Century and shoot, trap and poison all kinds of birds of prey. Red kites are big, spectacular birds and I'm sure they're a bit scary close up but I think we need to respond to this kind of story with thought and care.”