IT has been four short years since the first red kites were reintroduced to Northern Ireland. On 6 December 2011, the wildlife charity brought schools and funders together to celebrate the success of the programme.
At Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, representatives from Newry and Mourne, Down and Banbridge District Councils, RES Ltd and NIE, as well as the Forest Service watched a presentation by Red Kite Officer, Adam McClure about how well the birds were doing.
Mr McClure gave an update on the birds, revealing that there were now nine pairs of breeding kite and over 70 kites in Northern Ireland.
“This year eight chicks hatched, including triplets,” he said.
Newry and Mourne Environment officer, Patrick McShane said, “We are delighted to be involved in funding phase 2 of Northern Ireland Kites. It is wonderful to see the difference the project is making, not just by reintroducing the kites and monitoring their welfare, but also by involving schools and communities through the adopt a kite scheme.”
However, nothing conveyed the excitement and delight that these birds have brought to Northern Ireland, more than the stories told by local school children from St Francis’ Primary School in Drumarod, Castlewellan. They had adopted a red kite, calling it Downy, and talked about how much looking after a small piece of wildlife meant to them.
“Over 26 kites have been adopted by local schools,” said Jen Banks, Assistant Education Officer, RSPB. “It is a wonderful way of getting the children interested in their environment and the wildlife around them. Individuals and businesses can also adopt a red kite; its definitely a Christmas gift with a difference!”
“There has been such tremendous support from everyone in the area,” said Mr McClure, “and the reintroduction would have never been such a success if it wasn’t for them. We hope that the birds go from strength to strength and that from this small corner of Northern Ireland, they will spread out to enable other parts of the country to experience the incredible thrill of seeing a red kite soar in the skies.”