Media > Film > Kites are Flying

iKites are Flying

TV documentary commissioned by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), 1970.
First shown at the Royal Festival Hall on 13th February 1971.

Duration: 27¼ minutes

Music duration: 10 minutes
Music by Carey Blyton
Scoring: Piccolo/Flute/Alto Flute, Harp, Violoncello
Performance: Harold Clarke (Piccolo/Flute), Tryphena Partridge (Harp) and Vivian Joseph (Cello)

Script by Anthony Bomford
Narrated by Richard Bebb

Filmed, Edited and Directed by Anthony Bomford
Produced by Anthony Clay,
RSPB Film Unit

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Kites are Flying

Prince of Wales intro letterFilmed in central Wales, this half-hour film was commissioned by the RSPB and tells the story of the near-extinction of the Red Kite, and various faltering but eventually successful attempts to preserve it. Once a widespread and reasonably common sight, the Red Kite is now one of Britain’s rarest and most endangered breeding birds of prey. Unusually, the film is preceded by a short letter from HRH The Prince of Wales, who writes:

For a century the Red Kite has been one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds. It has only survived here in Wales through the efforts of a few dedicated people and the Welsh hill farmers, foresters and landowners in whose woods it chose to breed.

This film is a token of gratitude to these people who have saved this Welsh bird from almost certain extinction.

Charles, Prince of Wales

Please note that the original soundtrack of Kites are Flying is available on the CD Carey Blyton: Film & Television Music (3/4), which may be purchased from this site.

Booklet front coverCommemorative film booklet

The year 1971 represented the RSPB’s 21st programme of new films, with Kites are Flying and The Lonely Level being the two constituent documentaries. Both films were made by Anthony Bomford, Anthony Clay and others. The RSPB presented these films at over 250 public film shows throughout Britain, many to audiences of over 1000 people. Thereafter, from 1972, the films entered the RSPB’s film hire library, which at the time handled around 800 bookings each year.

A 24-page A5 booklet, containing a number of articles relating to the films, was published to commemorate the event and was made available at the various public film showings in 1971 for the princely sum of 10p. The soft-cover booklet was entitled Kites are Flying • The Lonely Level • An RSPB Film Programme and was attractively produced in a mixture of monochrome and full colour pages. It included a range of articles by people involved with the RSPB and the making of the two films. In particular, it contained an extensive summary of the history of kite conservation in Wales by Colonel Morrey Salmon, who had been involved in the efforts to save the bird for some 25 years. Its full list of contents is as follows:

Introduction Peter Conder, RSPB Director
Making the Films Anthony Clay, RSPB Films Officer
From Fenland to Wetland Peter Conder, RSPB Director, explains how the Ouse Washes have developed from impenetrable fenland to one of the most important wetlands in Europe.
The Kite in Wales Colonel H Morrey Salmon CBE MC DL has been helping to protect the kite for many years. Here he describes the fascinating history of its protection.
Wildlife of a Welsh Valley (Captioned pictures)
Birds of the Washes (Captioned pictures)
The Importance of the Ouse Washes David Lea, Deputy Director (Conservation) of the RSPB, has been intimately concerned with the establishment of the Ouse Washes as a nature reserve. He explains here why the area is so important.
Credits (Kites are Flying • The Lonely Level)
What the RSPB does (Information and ‘recruitment’ page)

The filming of Kites are Flying clearly took considerable effort, as is recalled by Anthony Clay (quoting from Making the Films in the RSPB booklet):

[…] the subject of Kites are Flying was certainly a most difficult bird to film. For two years, Anthony Bomford worked on this film based at the RSPB Gwenffrwd Reserve in central Wales. In 1965 he was warden of The Dinas Reserve there, so he knew the valley intimately. With invaluable help from the warden John Humphrey and the Humphrey family, he achieved impressive results which represent hundreds of hours in hides and days of frustration in the rain of one of the wettest parts of Britain.


…a taut, economical score in which the lyricism of the kite’s flight and the panoramic beauty of the Welsh hills are depicted in simple, direct, musical terms.

Hilton Gough, BFFS Film magazine, no 25, April 1975