Red Kites were reintroduced into Grizedale Forest in the summer of 2010, as part of a three year programme. The first release was of 30 chicks in August 2010, followed by a similar release in 2011 before the final one in 2012.
Red Kites are a stunning bird of prey, similar in size to a buzzard, which were once widespread across the UK. In the past, the kites would have been found scavenging around every village and town in the country, before numbers dropped to such an extent that they became extinct in England and Scotland in the nineteenth century. Only a small population remained in mid Wales. The North West of England is geographically the largest and most obvious region from which red kites are still absent in the UK and it was identifed by the National Red Kite Steering Group as the final release site for the England re-introduction programme. The land in and around Grizedale Forest is highly suitable for the birds, as well as having the on site expertise from the Forestry Commission's widlife ranger team.
Sightings of the birds - how you can help
There have been sightings of the birds as far north as southern Scotland and right down to the south coast of England as well as in the skies above Grizedale Forest and across Cumbria. A dedicated facebook page and email address has been set up for members of the public to report any sightings of the Grizedale birds. Keep up to date with news on the project via our red kites facebook page If you think you have seen one, please enter the details into our survey form.
Weighing less than 1000g, Red kites require only 10% or less of their body weight in food each day, around two voles (80g) per full grown kite each day
The bulk of the Red kites diet is made up from scavenging, rodents and invertebrates
Although possible it is unlikely that kites released in 2010 will attempt to breed in 2011 but some of the 2010 birds should breed in 2012
More information is available in the project information pack and Q&As, in our downloads area