In the summer of 2011, staff at the Burren Bird of Prey centre were invited to join the Golden Eagle Trust in Wales, to help collect and care for the last batch of Red Kites being brought into Ireland for the re-introduction in north county Dublin.
It was a real privilege to be involved with the program. We arrived in Rhayader mid Wales and hit the ground running. It was amazing to see the speed and efficiency with which the Golden Eagle Trust staff worked. After lengthy hours spent looking for nests by volunteers from the Welsh Kite Trust,(http://welshkitetrust.org/) the tree is scaled with the agility and poise of one of our closer hairier relatives. In no time, one or more chicks are on the ground being weighed, measured, wing tagged and rung. All in about 10 minutes, impressive work!
Once the birds were collected, they were placed in a temporary holding pen at Gigrin Farm in Rhayader.(http://www.gigrin.co.uk/) They were fed twice a day, with very little contact from the team, thereby preventing any chance of imprinting. In rude health the chicks soon grew and after a week they were ready to be brought to Ireland.
Once in Ireland, the Kites were held in holding pens in two locations in north county Dublin. After a further six weeks or so, once wing tagged and with radio transmitters attached, the birds were released. A truly amazing experience and program for the Birds of Prey Centre to be involved with.
Over the summer we helped radio track the released kites all over north County Dublin. We are looking forward to the coming spring, and summer kite surveying.