Red Kites doing well in Cumbria




Red kites, reintroduced into the Lake District earlier this year, are doing well according to the Forestry Commission.

Reports indicate that they are thriving and are spreading out around Cumbria and further afield.

One of the red kites rests in a tree close to the pens from which it was released. Pic Milton Haworth/Forestry Commission

One of the red kites rests in a tree close to the pens from which it was released. Pic Milton Haworth/Forestry Commission

Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger at Grizedale Forest who managed the reintroduction, said:

“As far as we can tell the birds are doing very well. The release has gone entirely as expected. Although it is still early days in the three-year programme I’m sure it will be a success.”

As winter approaches many of the red kites have been spotted moving southwards via Oxen Park to Ulverston.

It is believed many will continue following the coastline of Morecambe Bay and spread into Lancashire.

Other Cumbrian red kites, however, have been spotted heading north. One was sighted near Keswick and another was seen north of the border in the Castle Douglas area.

Red Kite observations

Mr Yoxall said the dispersal was normal and he called on members of the public and wildlife enthusiasts to help monitor the birds’ movements.

“The birds are spreading far and wide, which is normal for juveniles. We hope that they will come back to Grizedale when they feel the urge to breed either next year or the following year.

We are asking members of the public who see the birds to feed back that information to us here at Grizedale because any information is vital to help monitor the birds’ progress which will also help us with future releases. ”

Three year project

The reintroduction of the red kites in Cumbria is a three-year project organised and run by the Forestry Commission.

Thirty birds were brought as hatchlings from a Forestry Commission site in Northamptonshire and were released at Grizedale Forest in August 2010.

The same number of red kites will be released into the forest next year, and this will be repeated again in 2012.

The birds released this year have all got tags on either wing. They have an orange tag on their left wing – this shows they are from Cumbria. They also have a blue tag on their right wing – which indicates the release year.

Birds released next year and the year after that will have different coloured tags on their right wings.

Increasing biodiversity in the forests

A special advisory group has been established, containing bird experts from organisations like Natural England, the RSPB and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, to help ensure the project’s success.

The Forestry Commission is about much more than just providing timber
Graeme Prest, Forestry Commission

Graeme Prest, Forestry Commission area manager for North West England, said:

“The Forestry Commission is about much more than just providing timber, as well as recreation facilities we are also custodians of a wealth of wildlife that lives within our forests and woodlands.

One of the red kites rests in a tree close to the pens from which it was released. Pic Milton Haworth/Forestry Commission

One of the red kites rests in a tree close to the pens from which it was released. Pic Milton Haworth/Forestry Commission

The fantastic reintroduction of the red kites into the Lake District is a shining example of how we are increasing biodiversity in the region, which is great particularly as this is International Year of Biodiversity.

Identifying Red Kites

Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th Centuries. However they managed to cling on in mid Wales and their numbers recovered slowly.

Red kites are coloured chestnut red and have white patches under their wings.

They are primarily a scavenger and feed mostly on carrion.

Red kites typically begin breeding in their second or third year and they normally pair for life.

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