Have you seen a Red Kite?

Red Kites
Red Kites

THE Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are asking local people in the south Down area to report suspected breeding of red kites.

The Northern Ireland Red Kite Reintroduction Project saw eighty red kite chicks released in Castlewellan Forest between 2008 and 2010, and in 2010 the first red kite chicks to be born here in over 200 years took to the skies.

As part of the project, staff and volunteers with special licences closely monitor nests to record breeding pairs, productivity and survival through ringing and wing-tagging chicks.

In 2011, five pairs were known to have successfully fledged eight young and now that the breeding season is in full swing once again, Adam McClure, Red Kite Project Officer, is asking for help from locals in south Down to report possible nests.

Adam explains, “As part of the project we are trying to locate breeding red kites, especially Counties Down and Armagh. A dedicated team of staff and volunteers have been out tracking and monitoring movements for months, but unfortunately we can only be in one place at one time and local people are often in a much better position to notice potential breeding behaviour.”

If you suspect that red kites may be breeding nearby, Adam is asking that you contact him so he can confirm nests before the chicks fledge and it is too late, “We have already visited a number of nests and surprisingly there were a couple of chicks which were very well developed. I would urge people to report nests to me as soon as possible, as if we wait even another week, chicks may fledge and we won’t be able to tell who their parents are, where they were born or fit them with the coloured wing-tags which allow us to keep an eye on individual birds and monitor their progress as they explore the Northern Irish countryside.”

The RSPB are delighted with how the local community, farmers and landowners have taken the kites to heart and would like to thank them for their continued support and help, without which, the project would not be possible. If you suspect you know of breeding red kites, please contact Adam at adam.mcclure@rspb.org.uk or on 077022 37352 or for more information on Northern Ireland Red Kites, visit www.rspb.org.uk/nireland/redkites.

The project has been made possible through support from Newry & Mourne, Down and Banbridge Councils through the Ulster Wildlife Trusts Landfill Community Fund. Additional support has been received from NIE and RES Ltd. Project partners are RPSB NI, Golden Eagle Trust and Welsh Kite Trust.