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8 AUGUST 2011 NEWS RELEASE No: 14853

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Second wave of magnificent red kites take to the skies above Grizedale Forest

The second wave of red kites have soared into the skies above the Forestry Commission’s Grizedale Forest today as part of a landmark conservation project.

The 30 birds, which were brought to Cumbria as hatchlings from the Forestry Commission’s breeding site in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire, were released by the Commission’s wildlife ranger Iain Yoxall.

“It is a fabulous sight seeing the young birds fly out of their pen and into the skies above Grizedale,” said Iain. “It is great to see them circling above the forest and getting to know their new surroundings.

“These birds were once native to the area and this second batch of birds, along with the birds released last year, will become a spectacular addition to the region’s biodiversity.”

Another 30 birds will be released next year in the third and final phase of the reintroduction programme which aims to re-establish red kites in the North West – a region in which they roamed freely until they were almost eradicated from the UK in the 19th Century.

The red kites carry tags on each wing. An orange tag on their left wing shows they are from Grizedale. This year’s birds carry a white tag on their right wing which shows they were released in 2011. Last year’s kites carried blue tags on their right wings.

The birds have also been fitted with radio transmitters to allow wildlife rangers to monitor how they are getting on in the wild. However, the Forestry Commission is keen for the public to help them monitor the project’s progress by reporting sightings of the birds and a special email address is in place for anyone who would like to report a sighting - red.kite@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

More information on the red kites is available in The Yan building within the forest during the summer, as well as the Visitor Centre throughout the year.

Red Kites are predominantly carrion feeders and a special advisory group has been formed, consisting of experts from Natural England, the RSPB and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, to ensure the project’s success.

Red kites are coloured chestnut red and have white patches under their wings.  The wing span of fully fledged adults can be around five feet. They 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.

The UK’s population or red kites is expanding and there are now thought to be more than 1,000 pairs in the country.

For more information about the Forestry Commission in the North West please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland

Notes to editors:

The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain, with responsibility for more than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.

Media contacts: Iain Yoxall on 01229 862014 or Sarah Bruce on 01229 862 011 or 07827 232 832