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Gibside Estate, a National Trust property, lies at the heart of red kite country.
Report from wildlife Extra
White-Tailed Eagle chicks hatch in Ireland for first time in 110 years
Sea eagles from Norway have been introduced into Ireland since 2007.
May 2013. White-tailed Eagles have successfully hatched chicks in Ireland for the first time in more than 110 years.
County Clare & Kerry
In the last week a pair was confirmed to have hatched chicks at a nest near Mountshannon, Co Clare. This pair also created history in 2012 when they nested for the first time. A second pair, in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, successfully hatched chicks in the past few days having laid eggs in late March.
These are the first chicks of the high profile reintroduction programme which began in 2007 with the release of young Norwegian eagles in Killarney National Park as part of the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction programme developed and funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with Golden Eagle Trust.
Introduced from Norway
Nesting began in late March with pairs laying eggs in nests in Clare and Killarney. The Mountshannon breeding pair, a five year old male and four year old female, was collected on the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway. This pair laid eggs in 2012 but failed to hatch chicks. However by January 2013 had already built a new nest. The Killarney breeding pair, a six year old female and five year old male, was collected on islands in Flatanger and Hitra, Norway, in 2007 and 2008. The Killarney female spent part of the winter in early 2009 in the Scottish Highlands before returning to Kerry. All birds were released in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, as part of the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction programme. Several pairs have now established themselves in counties Kerry, Cork, Clare and Galway at coastal and inland lake sites.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan T.D. said "This is a momentous occasion in that we are now witnessing the first white-tailed eagles born in the wild in Ireland in over 100 years."
Golden Eagle Trust
"We are delighted that White-tailed Eagles are now nesting successfully in Clare and Kerry", said Dr. Allan Mee, project manager for the Golden Eagle Trust. "Last years' nesting attempt by the Clare pair was a momentous event for the species recovery in Ireland. However, the species has now taken the next important step by producing the first chicks on the reintroduction programme. This is another milestone for the project as producing and fledging chicks in nests in Ireland is critical for the projects' success. Ultimately the viability of the reintroduced programme depends on these chicks going on to breed themselves in Ireland. Each step brings us closer to that goal. Many people have helped us reach this goal over the years. We especially wish to thank local communities in Mountshannon and Whitegate, Co. Clare, and in the Killarney and wider South Kerry area for their goodwill and continued support. The eagles have benefitted from widespread support from communities and landowners, and their presence enhances rural economic values, especially wildlife tourism. Special thanks also go to our friends in Norway who put their faith in the reintroduction programme in Ireland by providing birds and also supporting us through some difficult times.
In Norway, the Norwegian team cooperating with the Irish Reintroduction Programme "was delighted to hear of the first successful hatching of chicks in Ireland, an important milestone on the road to a self-sustaining population of these magnificent birds. Our congratulations to the Irish project team, and to the Irish government who has supported the scheme, including taking measures to address the poisoning threat to the eagles and to the wider environment which the projects work revealed. The constructive approach of Ireland has been an impressive feature of the reintroduction, and we look forward to assisting further with your efforts". The Norwegian effort to collect chicks for the Irish Reintroduction was composed of local volunteers, with coordination by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and Norwegian Ornithological Society
The news of nesting White-tailed Eagles has generated a lot of excitement locally in east Clare and Kerry and is likely to attract the attention of people keen to see the birds. However disturbance, particularly during the early stages of nesting when the birds are on eggs or have small chicks, would be detrimental to the pair's success. "We are very conscious of the risk of disturbing the birds especially at this stage of nesting" Dr. Mee added.
Please note that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act (1976) to wilfully disturb White-tailed Eagles at the nest. Disturbance could result in the birds leaving the small chicks unguarded for a period during which they could be predated or be chilled or the birds could desert the site. We would caution people not to approach the nest area but instead avail of the unique opportunity to watch from a nesting pair of sea eagles from nearby Mountshannon pier. Information on the birds, their ecology and conservation will be available. We would like to acknowledge the goodwill and assistance of local people in the Mountshannon area, Mountshannon Community Council, local angling, gun clubs and Clare County Council before and during the nesting period".
Ronan Hannigan, Chairman of the Golden Eagle Trust stated: "We really appreciate the huge level of support received for all our restoration projects, particularly at grass root level. White Tailed Eagles depend on the on-going support of landowners, fishermen, clubs, farmers, local businesses, traders, tourists and school children. They hopefully now will be a more regular sight all over the West of Ireland."
Hannigan went on to say "Many Companies have sponsored the projects, including Killarney Resorts Ltd (Liebherr), KPMG, Printrun Limited and Dublin Zoo, to whom we are very grateful. A special thanks to Norway for giving such a unique gift to the people of Ireland. The hatching of White-tailed Eagle chicks in Ireland again after over 100 years will no doubt boost tourism in this Year of the Gathering, but also in the years to come, and hopefully will restore some of our magical past".
Whatever the outcome of these nesting attempts, the signs are good for future breeding in the area and at a number of other sites across Ireland in the near future. White-tailed Eagles can live for 25-30 years and generally mate for life with adult pairs remaining within their home range throughout the year. First time breeders, especially young birds, often fail at their first attempt. However, with the goodwill and support of local communities the species should have a bright future in Ireland.
RSPB puts up £1,000 reward to tackle birds of prey shootings
THE RSPB has put up a £1,000 reward for information after the fourth buzzard in four months was shot in an area of North Yorkshire.
Police are investigating the shooting of the female buzzard, which was found just north of Kirbymoorside in Farndale.
Gunshot was found in the bird's wing and bone fragments were sticking out of the injury. Animal welfare experts believe it had spent as long as ten days in this state and it had to be put down by vets.
The RSPB had only recently been celebrating the successful reintroduction of buzzards to the east of England.
The latest crime has prompted the organisation to put up a cash reward for anyone who provides information that will lead to a conviction.
The officer in charge of the investigation, PC Stewart Ashton from North Yorkshire Police said it was likely more birds have been killed in the area.
He said: "This is the fourth buzzard reported to have been shot in Ryedale over the past four months. This figure alone is disturbing but due to the hidden nature of the crime, this figure will not be a true portrayal of the number of raptors being killed."
Jean Thorpe from the Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre had collected the buzzard and taken it immediately to a veterinary surgery for treatment.
She said: "To know this fine buzzard was deliberately shot and could not survive the wild life it should have had, is a disgrace. Shame on whoever did this deed."
In 2011 the RSPB named North Yorkshire as the UK's worst black spot for crimes against birds of prey, saying there were more incidents recorded in the region than in Scotland, Wales and all of England's southern counties combined in 2010.
Species including goshawks, red kites, hen harrier and peregrine falcons have all been targeted by shooting or poisoning in the past few years.
According to the charity nearly 75 per cent of those convicted of bird of prey crimes had ties to game shooting and an interest in removing potential predators from grouse moors.
They have submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee stating there is a "strong body of scientific evidence" linking raptor persecution with upland moors managed for grouse shooting.
Anyone with information should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
News from Scotland
08 May 2013
A report passed to us from Mark Shilcock , OurGateshead.org
I thought that you would be interested to know that a friend saw a raptor with a white wing tag on the right wing - identification No E4.
The sighting was a couple of miles North East of Chapelhall in Lanarkshire.
Having searched on the internet, the only E4 which I could find was Red Kite "Mile Star" from your website.
I guess this is the same bird, especially as it was seen in early April near Muir of Ord.
I only heard of the sighting recently, so it is not possible to give an accurate date for the sighting, but as far as can be remembered it was during week ending 28th April.
There have been no further sightings of the bird in the same area.
I do not know much about raptor tagging, presumably all tags are unique so that there will not be two birds with the same tag?
Any comments or information on any further sighting would be appreciated.
James Mc Kinven
We are confident that this could well be our Wing tag E4. Maybe it is on its way home!
30 Mar 2013
Wing tag E4 has been identified in Muir of Ord, twenty miles north-west of Inverness.
Images courtesy of David Johnstone
David and Linda Johnstone share their news:
We live on the outskirts of Muir of Ord on an elevated area with a woodland to the side and open fields to the front. We started feeding buzzards only around 8 years ago, shortly after this the odd Red kite put in an appearance. The Red Kites increased over time and on average we would get between 4 - 6 Kites and 3- 4 buzzards. Year on year the number gradually came up then last year we seemed regularly get into double figures, the buzzard numbers also seem to be on the rise.
We normally only feed every other day and in the late afternoon around 16:00, last year we noticed that the Kites were starting to appear from 1-2 hours before hand and sitting in the trees around our house. We have been in regular contact with RSPB Red Kite Project officer Brian Etheridge, he has attended our home many times to observe the feeding and offered expert advice on this fascinating bird. Unfortunately the Kite numbers have not increased to the same level in the Highlands as other areas in the UK, which makes the rise in number of birds we are attracting all the more pleasing.
Since the beginning of the year we have been feeding every day and the numbers have risen dramatically, we regularly attract around 25 Red kites and between 6 -11 buzzards all feeding at the same time. Unusually the Red Kites will actually sit down in the garden along with the buzzards. We have put some recent video footage on Youtube so you can see, if you search for "Ord kites" you will find them.
Interestingly one of the Black Isle red kites came to visit us not long ago, WT 8P Royal Blue/Red, 2012.
E4's flight was 279.7 miles!
Wing tag E4 History
Wing Tag Left/Right:
Pink / White
2011 Gibside, Gateshead
Father- WT C1 Angel / Mother- WT60 Welbeck Whistler
Befriend a Kite School:
Milecastle Primary School
When WTE4 was tagged, along with sibling WTE5, the nest was found in an Scots pine. WTE4 can only be identified by a visual sighting.
WTE4 has been seen in the area in August and October, and also at the winter pre-roost at Hollinside Manor.
December 2011 - Identified on three occasions at pre roost near Hollinside Manor, Gateshead.
30/01/2012 -Identified at pre roost, Hollinside Manor.
22/10/2012 - recorded at pre roost, Hollinside Manor
09/11/2012 -Identified at pre roost, perched on pylon near Hollinside Manor
STOP PRESS: Radio programme Urban Kites
with Trai Anfield and Harold Dobsonhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01q7ggc/The_Living_World_Urban_Kites/
News from Northern Ireland Winter Newsletter 2013
This includes a report by the UK & Ireland Red Kite Coordination Group
THE RED KITE GOES RACING!!
Not only did the Team win the overall competition, thereby winning a place in the National Finals in London in March, but they also won prizes for the "Fastest Car" and the "Best Engineered Car".
Friends of Red Kites have again agreed to sponsor the Red Kite Racing Team (Seniors) from Emmanuel College, Gateshead. The Team is participating in the "Formula 1 (F1) in Schools" international competition in which groups of children (aged 11-18) have to design and manufacture a miniature "car" out of balsa wood using CAD/CAM design tools. The cars are powered by a C02 cartridge and attached to a track by a thin wire. They are timed, by computer, from launch to passing a finishing line 24 metres away. In addition to the time trials, the teams are judged on the engineering and design of their car, a portfolio and a verbal presentation.
Emily Miller, Team Marketing and Sponsorship Co-ordinator, says: "This year we are going for an ambitious design in producing the front and rear of the car out of plastic and keeping the central body as balsa wood. The FoRK sponsorship will go towards the production of the 3D plastic". The regional F1 in Schools competition will be held at the Business School, Newcastle University on Tuesday 12th February . We can follow the Team's endeavours on their website: http://redkiteracing.webs.com
REPORT FROM THE F1 RACING TEAM 20March 2013
The competition was a huge success! Although we didn't place in the top three, we won the knockout competition out of 30 teams so have won tickets to go to Friday Practice at the Silverstone Grand Prix and go in to the paddock. We also gave one of the top three verbal presentations and judges said they were impressed with our whole team.
Unfortunately, we will have to hand over to the next generation of Red Kite Racing, but we are hopeful that they will be just as successful (and hopefully even more successful) than we have been. We will soon be in touch telling you who the new members of the team are.
Once again many thanks for your support over the years,
We send them our heartiest congratulations and best wishes for their future study and careers.
RSPB press release:
Two hen harriers killed at Perthshire windfarm - 21st December 2012
RSPB Scotland has today confirmed that an adult male hen harrier was found dead at a Perthshire wind farm, with a second bird found injured three weeks later. Hen harriers are a scarce species that hunt over rough grazings and moorland.
The birds were discovered on separate occasions earlier this Spring, in the same section of the Griffin Wind Farm, near Aberfeldy. The area had been forestry that was clear felled to aid the wind farms construction and operation.
RSPB Scotland is now able to confirm that no further hen harriers appear to have been affected at the windfarm during 2012. RSPB Scotland staff have been working closely with operators SSE to avoid any repeat tragedies. This has included visits to the site and advice to increase post-construction monitoring. This will enable staff to understand how the birds use the site, particularly during the species' display period.
The Griffin Wind farm, comprising 68 turbines, was granted permission in 2009. It was switched on in two phases, starting in March and becoming fully operational in July 2012.
The first hen harrier was discovered by engineers below a turbine on the 18th April, just three weeks later a second male was found unable to take off close to the same turbine. The bird was found to have an injured wing and sadly later died.
Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland said : "This is a tragic situation and is likely to have had an impact on the local breeding success of this vulnerable species. Sustained persecution has placed the hen harrier under significant pressure, with the raptor teetering on the brink of extinction in England. However, wind farm collisions, the apparent reason for the death of these two birds, remain very rare events indeed.
"It is important to remember that climate change still poses one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife; thus, appropriately-sited wind farms remain part of a wider range of measures to mitigate this impact. Nonetheless this new information will be used to help evaluate future windfarm proposals. Lessons must be learnt.
"This case also highlights the importance of continued monitoring before, during and after a development, so we can ensure such projects can exist without detrimentally affecting our local wildlife.
"In relation to the events at the Griffin wind farm at Aberfeldy, our priority now is to keep working with SSE in monitoring and researching the site, and using this information to change the management of the open ground areas so reducing future risks to these vulnerable protected species and reduce the threat of future collisions"
The threat exists for all birds of prey. Red kites are especially vulnerable. Here is a corpse showing the horrendous injuries suffered by the impact.
Thornley Woods Visitor Centre
If you are interested in talking to someone about the red kites in the Lower Derwent Valley and the wildlife of Gateshead, then have you visited Thornley Woodlands Centre (on the A694 between Winlaton Mill and Rowlands Gill) ?
The Centre is staffed by Gateshead Volunteer Countryside Rangers who will be happy to have a chat about what you can do, and what's about, in the Derwenthaugh and Derwent Walk Country Parks and the 22 nature reserves in the area. The Centre also sells a key for the six hides in Gateshead including Far Pastures and Shibdon Pond. Staff can also inform about the nearby sculpture trail and the Red Kite Trail as well as providing information about the red kites. Our Secretary, Harold Dobson, is a Volunteer Ranger there every Friday. Here are a couple of photos taken recently. The first shows Harold entertaining the Workman family from Whickham.
This second image is of Jackey Lockwood (FoRK Health Walks Co-ordinator and also Volunteer Ranger) and Harold, taken at the reception desk with Steve Rutherford (Senior Ranger).
Images courtesy of June Atkinson
[The Centre has toilet facilities and is open 10.00 - 14.00 weekdays and 13.00 - 16.00 weekends. Tea, coffee & hot chocolate are available for £1.00]
Amazing photographs of birds we might see this winter - the Waxwing
Juvenile kite alive and well
Image courtesy of Ken Sanderson
A juvenile kite (pictured above), which was released back into the wild following its rehabilitation from injury, has been spotted alive and well at the red kite roost site near the Nine Arches Viaduct in Gateshead's Derwent Valley. The chick had been blown out of the nest during strong winds in June. The bird was treated for a superficial injury to the base of the tail and was released on July 28th after being ringed and wing tagged as F6. The young bird was seen flying the following day and it had linked up with a family of kites on the Gibside Estate so we were hopeful that it would survive in the long term. But F6 was not seen again until Monday 15th October when it was identified whilst perched at the pre-roost site.
Allan Withrington, who was responsible for the welfare of the bird whilst it was in rehab. was delighted when he heard. "This is fantastic news," he said. "It makes it all worthwhile when you get a positive outcome such as this."
Like many other young birds and animals F6 still has to get through its first winter, which is the time in their lives when they are most vulnerable.
Footnote: F6 was one of a brood of three chicks. One of its siblings was also blown out of the nest but did not fare so well, it was found dead directly below the nest. The third chick managed to stay in the nest and fledged successfully.
Wing Tag 18 Zeus spotted in East Yorkshire
We have just received news from our contacts in East Yorkshire that they are seeing Wing Tag 18 in their area. Our pink wing tags have faded and it was thought at first to be a white tag.
We are waiting for more details of Zeus, released in the Derwent Valley in 2004 and its possible breeding success. More to come........
Image courtesy of Harold Dobson