Red kites at Watlington Hill

Watlington Hill Christmas Common Buckinghamshire OX49

Introduced from Spain in the 1980s, red kites have been a spectacular conservation success story in the Chilterns. With their forked tails, chestnut-and-white plumage and 2m-wingspan, they are easy to spot wheeling over the M40 – nicknamed 'kite alley' – and the countryside around High Wycombe, especially between October and April. If you're on foot, one of the best places to see them is Watlington Hill in Oxfordshire. Part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the hill is a mix of rabbit-nibbled grassland, scrub and woodland where the kites like to roost. Largely owned by the National Trust, it rises to 230m, giving impressive views of the county, and in summer it's alive with butterflies as well, making it a grand spot for a picnic. For more places to spot red kites in the area, download the Chilterns AONB's special leaflet.

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