Oldest known British Red Kite dies


Britain's oldest known Red Kite, which was released as part of a successful reintroduction programme in the early 1990s, has died.

The bird, called 'Aragon', was found injured outside a school in Carterton, Oxfordshire, and rescued by bird sanctuary owner Chrissie Gaines. The bird was bearing a ring and after it had died from its injuries, Ms Gaines found the kite was part of the second batch of chicks brought over from Spain in 1994.

'Aragon' was among the first Red Kite chicks to arrive in the Thames Valley in 1994 (Dr Mike Pienowski).

'Aragon', aged 29, is the oldest British Red Kite on record, beating the previous oldest by some three years. Ms Gaines discovered the bird's history and that it was ringed by Dr Mike Pienowski, who was part of the original team who reintroduced Red Kites in the 1990s.

Ms Gaines said: "I couldn't believe it, we know the conservation project to release the kites has been a success, but had Aragon not been found we wouldn't know how old the original group had lived to. We think he's now the oldest Red Kite in the UK as the last one recorded was 25.

"In all my years working with birds I've never heard anything like it, usually birds don't live very long when they're released back into the wild. So he mustn't be forgotten, bless him, he's part of history."