Northern Ireland news

Public asked to report red kite sightings

A red kite pictured in Co Down this year by Mike McLaughlin

THE public are being asked to report sightings of red kites as the new breeding season gets underway.

RSPB NI said last year there were more than 400 sightings and the highest number of nests since the majestic birds of prey were re-introduced in 2008.

The reddish-brown birds, with black wingtips, silver grey heads and slender wings, can measure up to five and half feet in length and have a distinctive V-shaped tail, unlike buzzards which have a fanned tail.

Staff from the conservation charity were unable to monitor last year due to the Covid restrictions, but information from the public and volunteers indicated there were at least 24 nests in Co Down.

Neal Warnock, RSPB NI senior conservation officer, said they have also been seen across Northern Ireland in recent years, from the north coast to Co Fermanagh.

“Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing a red kite will know how stunning these birds are," he said.

"At this time of year, they can be seen displaying and nest building

“Red kite sightings from members of the public are incredibly valuable in highlighting new territories we may not already know about.

“So if you are out walking in and around Castlewellan, Katesbridge, Moneyslane or Ballyward in County Down, or spending time in the Mournes as ‘stay local' restrictions ease, please let us know if you spot any red kites.”

Sightings can be logged by emailing redkiteni@rspb.org.uk, including the date, time, location and, if visible, wing tag details.

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