17/07/2014
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Red Kites breed in Cumbria after more than 200 years

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There has been exciting news for the Forestry Commission team behind the Grizedale Red Kite reintroduction project, as they have confirmed that the first chicks are being raised there — this is the first breeding to be recorded in Cumbria since 1807. The Forestry Commission, along with a small team of volunteers, have been monitoring progress of the birds released between 2010 and 2012. This summer a nest was discovered and now, the news that three chicks have successfully hatched.

Tom Dearnley, Ecologist for the North Forest District at the Forestry Commission, confirmed the news and said: "This is great news for the birds. We have been monitoring their movements with FC staff and a superb team of volunteers and it's very satisfying to now have the first confirmed chicks."

Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission Wildlife Ranger at Grizedale, led the reintroduction project and has been working with volunteers in Cumbria to monitor the progress of the 90 kites that were released. The birds were all wing-tagged, with tags showing that they were part of the Grizedale project, and a further coloured tag indicating which year they were released. Iain commented: "We were expecting the birds to be breeding by now and it is hugely rewarding to see the first confirmed chicks from the project. We have been monitoring the chicks' progress and were able to ring them, as well as adding wing tags. This will help us to follow the chicks once they fledge and leave the nest."

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The Grizedale Red Kite youngsters (Photo: Forestry Commission).

Ken Hindmarch is one of the volunteers who have been monitoring the birds' progress and helped locate this nest. He said: "The buzz of seeing the return to breeding in Cumbria, after over two hundred years, has given us all a lift and we are looking forward to more 'Happy Returns' from the final batch of chicks to be released. On behalf of all the Red Kite volunteers, I would like to thank the Forestry Commission for the opportunity to be involved in this exciting project."

Members of the public have been following the progress of the birds, and adding their own sightings to the dedicated Grizedale Red Kites Facebook page. Anyone with information to report can visit the page at www.facebook.com/GrizedaleRedKites.

Written by: Forestry Commission