An extremely rare white-coloured red kite, thought to be one of only ten in the world, has been spotted on a farm in central Wales.
Images captured on Gigrin Farm in Rhayder, Powys, a specialist red kite feeding centre, show the bird flying and coming in to feed amongst other red kites.
White red kites have a condition called leucism, a phenomenon that gives them a white plumage rather than the species’ usual red.
Red kites were at one time confined to Wales as a result of persecution, but a decades-long reintroduction scheme that imported the birds from Spain brought them back to other areas of the UK.
The Spanish translocations to Britain occurred in 1989 to England, followed by a similar project to Scotland in 1992. The current red kite population in the UK is now estimated at 6,000 breeding pairs and is increasing.
In June 2023, a group of 30 red kites were sent from Britain to Spain in a bid to save the Mediterranean population. They were the second group to have been sent to Spain after the project launched in 2022.
In The Birds of London, Andrew Self writes that the first record of red kites in the city dates back to Roman times, when the 2nd-century author Aelian stated that they had “developed a habit of plucking hair off men’s heads for weaving into their nests”.
Shakespeare also references them in Coriolanus, calling London the “city of kites and crows”.