18 November, 2017 01:00
THE highest number of fledging Red Kite chicks on record has been reached this year.
Twenty territorial pairs have been recorded in Northern Ireland, with 13 of them successfully fledging 28 chicks - a new record.
Next year will mark 10 years since the ground-breaking reintroduction of red kites, after they were persecuted to near-extinction around 200 years ago.
But, the RSBP says, despite the growing numbers, the north are still a long way from reaching a sustainable red kite population, with a young red kite was found dead after being shot near Moneyslane, Co Down in August.
It has launched `RKites', a partnership project reaching out to 40 Co Down and Armagh in communities where the red kites are present, and also working alongside the Mourne Heritage Trust's Youth Rangers programme.
The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, RSPB, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, with support from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group and the Mourne Heritage Trust.
Joanne Sherwood, RSPB director at, said: "The name ‘RKites' relates to red kites and to the fact that they are indeed our kites.
"It's up to all of us to support these iconic birds and to ensure that we can cherish and protect them and give them a home in Northern Ireland for years to come."
Paul Mullan, head of Heritage Lottery Fund, said it is "delighted" to support the project.