Thirty red kites will were released into the skies over Cumbria’s Grizedale Forest today in the final phase of a scheme to reintroduce the spectacular birds to the county. Today’s releases bring the total number of released kites to ninety.
The birds were released at Grizedale forest in south Cumbria by the Forestry Commission, which is spearheading the three-year red kite reintroduction project. Red kites were successfully reintroduced in batches of thirty birds in the Lake District in the summer of 2010 and again last year.
The final thirty kites taken from a number of nests as nestlings were all taken from the Forestry Commission’s Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire and will help boost the breeding chances of other red kites already released in Cumbria.
The latest group of juvenile red kites have been spending a month gaining strength in a custom made pen at a secret location in the southern part of Grizedale Forest.
An expert Forestry Commission team has been caring for the young birds and feeding them until they were ready to fly and fend for themselves.
The 2012 birds will each carry different coloured tags on their wings. An orange one on the left to show they are from Grizedale, and one on the right to indicate the year of release – red ones for 2012. Some of the birds will also carry radio transmitters to allow Forestry Commission wildlife rangers to monitor the birds following their release.
One of a number of red kites from the first batch released in 2010 found shot near Dent, Cumbria.
The Forestry Commission North West England was granted a special licence to release 90 red kites in Grizedale Forest over a three- year period.
The latest arrivals mark the third and final phase.
Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries. Numbers are now recovering slowly thanks to the actions of conservationists and several successful reintroduction projects in both England and Scotland.
Because the reintroduction schemes have proved so successfull with surplus birds now expanding into other areas of the country, there are now estimated to be more than 1,000 pairs of the red kites in the country.