Red kite chicks sent from England to Spain to boost ailing numbers

1 week ago 14

When red kites were reintroduced successful England much than 30 years ago, young birds were brought implicit from thriving populations successful Spain. Now the carrion-feeding raptor is doing truthful good that English chicks – with distant Spanish ancestry – are being flown backmost to Spain to boost ailing numbers there.

Fed connected culled grey squirrels and meticulously checked by vets, 15 chicks collected from nests successful Northamptonshire are this week travelling to confederate Spain wherever they volition beryllium held successful peculiar aviaries successful the countryside until they are mature capable to beryllium acceptable free.

“When we went to Spain successful the precocious 1980s and said: ‘Can we person immoderate kites?’, the Spanish conservationists were truly enthusiastic,” said Ian Evans of Natural England, who was progressive successful the archetypal English reintroduction and is helping with the translocation of birds to Spain today. “The magnitude of effort to find nests, show them and cod chicks is considerable. That’s turned a afloat ellipse and we’re doing the same, utilizing the cognition we built up successful the 1990s to assistance the Spanish.”

Reintroducing reddish kites to England has been the astir palmy raptor restoration task successful Europe. In 1989 determination were conscionable 42 breeding pairs of reddish kites, struggling successful upland Wales. Today determination are estimated to beryllium much than 6,000 breeding pairs crossed Britain, the second-highest nationalist colonisation successful Europe aft Germany, and 17% of the planetary population.

The British colonisation is inactive expanding and determination is specified a surplus of reddish kites that chicks person been taken from nests successful Forestry England woods successful the eastbound Midlands for different translocation projects successful Cumbria and Aberdeen, arsenic good arsenic Spain.

Karl Ivens, right, RSPB tract  serviceman  Simon Dudhill and vet Sophie Common hole   the reddish  kite chicks for Spain.
Karl Ivens, right, RSPB tract serviceman Simon Dudhill and vet Sophie Common hole the reddish kite chicks for Spain. Photograph: John Robertson/The Guardian

Nests are monitored and a azygous chick is taken lone from nests with aggregate chicks, truthful the chaotic birds proceed to rear offspring and don’t wantonness their nest. The birds are taken astatine betwixt 4 and six weeks old, truthful determination is nary hazard they volition go tame oregon “imprinted” upon humans.

Thirty birds volition beryllium taken to Spain each summertime for 3 years successful the project, funded by the EU’s Life programme and supported successful Britain by organisations including the RSPB and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.

Karl Ivens, wildlife ranger manager for Forestry England, said: “I joked to the Spanish ecologist successful the 1990s that ‘one time I’ll bring them backmost to you’, ne'er expecting it to beryllium true. Kites to Spain sounds a spot similar coals to Newcastle but they’ve go endangered determination aft problems with persecution.”

“From a familial constituent of view, these birds are truly adjacent to the Iberian birds inactive surviving here,” said Alfonso Godino, the task manager of Acción por el Mundo Salvaje (Amus), 1 of the reintroduction partners successful Spain, wherever the colonisation has slumped to less than 10 breeding pairs successful the south-west. “It’s truly astonishing that this 1 enactment – the reintroduction successful England – tin get a beauteous absorption adjacent 3 decades later.”

The carrion-feeding reddish kite has declined successful Spain due to the fact that of the poisoning of carnal carcasses, sometimes to support lambs from foxes. But according to Godino, the Spanish kites tin thrive again due to the fact that pugnacious measures – including situation sentences for amerciable poisoning – person present reduced reddish kite mortality.

Red kite chicks.
Two six-week aged reddish kite chicks that are being transported from the UK to Spain. Photograph: John Robertson/The Guardian

“Illegal poisoning volition ne'er vanish but the level has decreased a batch implicit the past decade.”

This was the acquisition successful England aft the Spanish reddish kites were reintroduced. The reddish kite thrived due to the fact that amerciable persecution fell alongside a emergence successful the knowing that the carrion-feeder does not endanger the viability of pheasant shoots oregon different agrarian businesses.

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“Nobody knew if they would permission the pheasants and partridges unsocial but implicit clip the gamekeepers recovered retired for themselves – reddish kites don’t devour pheasants and partridges,” said Evans. “A batch of the keepers truly got into the kites.”

The RSPB’s Duncan Orr-Ewing, who masterminded the archetypal reddish kite reintroduction programme successful Scotland and is advising the latest project, said: “It’s astir conserving biodiversity and we tin ne'er beryllium complacent astir it. The Spanish colonisation of reddish kites was astir revered but it shows however things tin instrumentality a crook for the worse without immoderate protection. We’ve got to support our eyes connected the shot and marque a affirmative publication wherever we can.”

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