The future of a nature reserve has been secured thanks to a 373,500 Lottery award, writes Ian Townsend.

The reserve, in Aston Clinton, is home for most of south Oxfordshire's red kite population.

The 250-acre site has been recently designated a spotlight nature reserve, a European Union priority reserve and is already a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

It is host to a range of rare and vulnerable species such as the silver spotted skipper butterfly, grassland plants and the red kite bird of prey.

It was reintroduced into the area in the 1990s, and this year 100 breeding pairs raised 170 chicks.

Visitor numbers are growing every year and the award will help English Nature develop and increase public access.

The new Red Kites in the Chilterns joint project between the Chilterns Conference and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has its first major event at Aston Rowant.

On November 12 at 2pm the first of the project's winter walks to see the red kite will take place. The second is on November 19 at Cowleaze Wood, near Ibstone.