From a young age I've had a passion for birds and wildlife in general. I'm always keeping an eye out for animals and birds while I'm travelling to assignments throughout Cheshire and Flintshire.

Those of you who share my interest in birds will understand my excitement when I saw a pair of Red Kites hanging on the thermals, close to Beeston Castle.

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Having visited Gigrin Farm in Rhayader, Mid Wales (famous for the daily feeding of these raptors), I instantly recognised them from the iconic forked tail.

A pair of Red Kites spotted flying close to Beeston Castle near Tattenhal
 

I was not only excited but shocked too. It's the first time I had seen these birds in Cheshire and watching them fly high towards Beeston Castle reminded me that they would have been a common sight over Britain during the castle's heyday, before they were driven to near extinction.

Kites were a respected scavenger during the Middle Ages, helping to keep streets clean and they were even protected by a royal decree as killing the bird meant capital punishment. However, by the 16th century a bounty was placed on the birds and, in common with many other birds of prey, it was relentlessly persecuted as 'vermin'. In recent times, the birds have made a miraculous comeback and have been hailed as a modern day success story by conservationists.

They became extinct in England in 1871 and in Scotland in 1879. By 1903 when protection efforts started, only a handful of pairs were left in remote parts of central Wales.

In 1999 the Red Kite was named 'Bird of the Century' by the British Trust for Ornithology. It has also been unofficially adopted as the national bird of Wales.

In 2006, a Red Kite was spotted in London, the first sighting for 150 years.

The RSPB  has recently announced that the number of breeding pairs is too large to continue to survey them on an annual basis.

So, the next time you are out in the Cheshire Countryside, keep an eye out. You too may spot a success story on the wing.