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Red kites take off to the wilds
8:35am Monday 13th August 2012 in News
A THIRD release of 30 red kites has taken place at Grizedale Forest.
The latest group of juvenile raptors has spent a month gaining strength in a custom made pen at a secret location in Grizedale Forest before they were freed.
An expert Forestry Commission team has cared for the young birds and fed them until they were ready to fly and fend for themselves. Some of the birds are carrying radio transmitters to allow Forestry Commission (FC) wildlife rangers to monitor them following their release. The Forestry Commission has spearheaded the three-year project to re-introduce red kites into the region, the first of its kind and the last red kite reintroduction project in England.
Red kites were successfully reintroduced to the heart of the Lake District in the summer of 2010 and again in 2011, meaning that 90 have now been brought back to the Lake District.
“It is three years down the line since this project first began and it’s the final release of the birds so I’m relieved that everything has gone well,” said Iain Yoxall, wildlife ranger at the Forestry Commission and the man in charge of the project.
He added that rangers would continue to feed the birds for a few weeks as the red kites settled into their new surroundings.
Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Numbers then recovered slowly thanks to the actions of local conservationists. The UK population is expanding and there are now thought to be over 1,000 pairs of the birds in the country.
The birds are coloured chestnut red and have white patches under their wings. Their wing span can reach around five feet.
Red kites typically begin breeding in their second or third year and usually pair for life. The long term aim across the country is that the kites expand into other areas and eventually join together.
For information about the Forestry Commission, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland.
The red kites also have their own Facebook page where people can report sightings at http://www.facebook.com/#!/GrizedaleRedKites