The Editor

Hexham Courant

Dear Sir/Madam

It was very good to read of the rescue of a Red Kite at Rye Hill, Slaley, and of the subsequent care given to the bird by Falconry Days, resulting in its release back into the wild. Kites have been present around the Devil's Water, close to Rye Hill, all spring and summer so it is possible that it was a local bird.

The Red Kite appears to have established itself well as a Northumberland-breeding bird, particularly from 2016 when the population reached around 30 pairs from my work in the field. Many of these are on farmland adjacent to that used for the Gateshead re-introduction scheme, extending northwards to Bywell, but they have also been happy to colonise the grouse moors upstream from Derwent Reservoir, around Whitfield Moor and in the East Allen. Some of the birds on the moors may come from another re-introduction scheme at Grizedale, in Cumbria.

Since my study is restricted to south Northumberland bounded on the north side by the Tyne and South Tyne valleys, the figure of 30 pairs is a minimum: it is likely that some birds are breeding further north still.

Red Kite started to occupy Northumberland in 2006. Early success in 2008 was a false dawn as the species struggled to gain a foothold with some poisoning incidents receiving prominent attention in the press. It took a decade from 2006-2016 for the colonisation to be secure.

There may be a lesson here for Lynx UK.

While the ecological benefits of the re-introduction are very clear, such a scheme is fraught with difficulties in the early stages because of the inexperience of the animals in their new habitat and of the landowners in understanding their habits. Some further time for consultation, and acceptance on the ground, may be the difference between the success of the Lynx in Kielder and its failure.

Yours faithfully

Nick Rossiter