Red kites returned to Cumbria forest after 160 years

Image caption,
The kites had been kept in special pens

The first rare red kites have been reintroduced to Cumbria for the first time in 160 years.

The first 30 of a batch of 90 have been released in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District.

The Forestry Commission hopes to repopulate the forest by releasing all 90 of the birds of prey over the next three years.

The birds were transported from Northamptonshire, where they were successfully reintroduced in the 1980s.

The kites were taken soon after hatching from Forestry Commission woodlands at Rockingham Forest in June and kept in special pens at Grizedale.

All have been wing-tagged with a colour and number and given leg rings.

'Conservation coup'

About 10% have been tagged with radio transmitters, which will help Forestry Commission staff monitor the success of the release programme.

Wildlife ranger Iain Yoxall said: "They will be an exciting thing for people to see and an added attraction for people visiting Grizedale.

"It is a real conservation coup for the area and it will help to establish the red kites in a process which could take decades naturally."

Red kites almost became extinct from the UK between the 16th and 19th centuries because they were over-hunted and lost their habitats.

The Grizedale programme is the ninth reintroduction of red kites into different regions of the UK, and the final reintroduction phase in England.

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