Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kite Mark to Return after 134 Years

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kite Mark to Return after 134 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson Environment Editor

Next year it could be a case of red kite in sight, shoppers' delight.

For the spectacle of the birds of prey with their 5ft wingspans soaring over Gateshead's MetroCentre and other urban areas is now on the cards.

Plans to reintroduce up to 30 young red kites to the North-East became a reality yesterday when the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) agreed to pour more than pounds 300,000 into the ambitious venture.

And in what will be a world-first, the birds will be released and are expected to make their home on the urban edge of Tyneside.

They will be set free in the Derwent Valley in Gateshead next summer, with landmarks such as the Angel of the North and the MetroCentre on their doorstep.

Before they were persecuted into extinction in England, kites were urban birds which scavenged waste in the medieval streets.

They did such a good job as nature's dustmen that they were given special protection.

Now the North-East birds are seen as an ideal way to capture the imagination of urban dwellers and introduce them to wildlife and nature.

"They are majestic birds which could soon be floating over St James's Park on a match day, or the MetroCentre and the Angel of the North. Red kites have been absent from the skies of northern England for far too long and we are all looking forward to helping bring them back home, " said RSPB regional director Andy Bunten.

"That will be brilliant - absolutely fantastic. These birds are stunning wherever you see them."

The last record of a red kite in the North-East was of a bird being trapped and killed in Northumberland in 1869.

The North-East red kite project is managed by English Nature and the RSPB, working in partnership with Gateshead Council, Northumbrian Water, The National Trust and the Forestry Commission.

Gateshead Council has pledged pounds 250,000 over five years, and Northumbrian Water pounds 15,000 for each of the first two years.

The search will soon be underway to recruit a locally-based team to run the project, which it is hoped will prove a big visitor draw in the Derwent Valley. …

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