Red kites were once Britain's most common bird of prey. By the early 1900s, they'd been wiped out in Scotland and England following centuries of ruthless persecution. When some reintroduced kites began roosting on their 1,400-acre farm at Argaty in Perthshire, Tom Bowser's parents, Lynn and Niall, decided to turn their estate into a safe haven. They began feeding the birds and invited the world to come and see them, learn about them and fall in love with them.
A Sky Full of Kites is the story of the Argaty Red Kite project, and the re-establishing of these magnificent raptors to Scotland, but it is also much more than that. Ill at ease with the traditional rural values of livestock farming, Lynn and Niall's son Tom, who returned to work on the farm after a career in journalism, reveals his passion for nature and his desire to dedicate his family's land to conservation.
Tom Bowser grew up on his parents' Perthshire farm. After university, he worked as a teacher and then as a journalist before returning to Argaty in 2009. In 2017 he took over the running of the conservation project Argaty Red Kites, and in 2018 launched the Argaty Red Squirrels project
"[...] I found the book very readable and became quickly immersed. If you are a raptor enthusiast, enjoy watching kites, have visited the viewing facilities at Argaty Farm or just love a good read, this book comes highly recommended."
– Brian Etheridge, Ibis, May 2022
"This is the story of the Argaty Kite project, based near Stirling, and that itself is an interesting story, but this book is more than that, in that it is a tale of Red Squirrels, Pine Martens, dragonflies and a host of other creatures, and a tale of a place and a family. I liked it. [...]"
– Mark Avery
"A wonderful book"
– Euan McIlwraith, BBC TV's Landward
"An environmental story that gives hope, a story of a bird that was extinct doing really well on an estate that's trying to promote a different way of doing things"
– Dundee Courier
"An inspirational real-life story"
– Scots Magazine
"Imbued with the author's passion for nature, and his desire to dedicate his family's land to conservation"
– The Bookseller
"The story of how a farm was turned into a private wildlife reserve [...] hopefully more farmers will start to see wildlife as an asset, as this farm did"
– Birdwatcher Magazine
"This book has plenty to tell us about the birds [...] many of the best bits of this book are the historical references and the brief history of kites in literature and history"
– Scotland on Sunday