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Wed27th Feb 2008

At present there are probably twenty-four kites in the general release area. I say probably as a number of them have dropped their radios so I have to rely on reading their wing tags, which can be a little tricky to say the least. We know two kites are dead, so there may be four others out here touring the country. I often get reports on kites in different parts of the country and while some of these turn out to be common buzzards some are indeed kites. These reports are important in helping us track the dispersal of the kites so if you see one make sure to let me know.

On the week of the 11th of February I headed towards Naas in search of a kite that had been reported to me. The person that had spotted the kite had seen its' wing tags so it was a kite for sure. Once I got near the area where the bird was spotted the radio picked its' signal up. It didn't take too much driving around to finally spot the bird alive and well, soaring over a stubble field in search of a feed. Two common buzzards also in the area, so there is obviously lots of prey around. The kite is purple "e", e being the letter on its' tag.

The kite may decide to stay put where it is as it has found itself a nice territory, in the absence of other kites however it may decide to continue on its' travels. Birds of prey like to breed where they themselves were raised, so although it's not going to breed this year it may head back to Wicklow this spring.

Thanks and well done to those that spotted it.


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Wed27th Feb 2008

Just back from a trip to Wales where I attended the Welsh Kite Trusts (WKT) annual meeting. I updated them on the progress of the Irish project to date. They were very impressed at the survival of the kites in Ireland, a minimum of 80% of the Kites are still alive and this probably well exceeds the survival of young kites in Wales. Great to get the thumbs up from the WKT, many of the members have been studying kites for 20+ years. So we're all looking forward to June when I'll go back to collect more young for the Irish project.

Visits to Wales are always a pleasure. I wasn't long off the ferry in Wales before I saw common buzzards and red kites soaring around. The number of kites and buzzards is amazing and they are not only to be seen in the hills of Wales, but soaring over the towns and villages, a sight I look forward to in Ireland in the not too distant future.

I stayed on an extra day in Wales to head out with Tony Cross of the Welsh Kite Trust. We saw plenty of kites displaying over their territories and nest building has already commenced. We went looking for goshawks but didn't see any unfortunately, did find a few goshawk nests though, so they'll be worth a look when I go back (if there's any spare time!). Finished up the day with a visit to a chough roost to read some colour rings, ringing choughs being another passion of Tonys.

Back at home now and time to check up on our own kites, maybe some of them might try their "hand" at nest building!

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Sat4th Feb 2012

There is disappointing news again this week for the Wicklow Red Kite Reintroduction Project as yet another bird has been confirmed poisoned. The bird, a female Red Kite was found dead in the Brittas Bay area in late December. Since her release in July 07, she had found a mate and was known to have successfully bred and raised three young at a site near Redcross, Co Wicklow. A member of the public reported the finding to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The apparent good condition of the bird lead Conservation Rangers to suspect poisoning and following new Raptor Monitoring Protocols developed by the NPWS, The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the State Laboratory, the bird was sent for toxicology testing at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory. The results, received earlier this week, confirm poisoning with alphachloralose, a poison whose only legal use can be for the control of mice and then only in a controlled manner and dosages.

Minister Deenihan expressed his disappointment on this development saying ?this was the second such case of poisoning of a Red Kite in the area in a six week period. Seven Red Kites are known to have been killed in this way in Co. Wicklow since the project began in 2007. This is the third Red Kite poisoned with alphachloralose in Wicklow during the past five months. I would appeal to people to act responsibly when it comes to implementing pest control measures, and, they should never be at the cost of causing death to birds of prey and other wildlife?

Regulations on the restrictions on the use of poisons legislate that their use to control birds and foxes is now illegal. Unfortunately, some landowners continue to use illegal poisons indiscriminately.

?As a result of their specialist scavenging habits Red Kites and other scavenging birds are particularly vulnerable and are usually one of the first to find poison baits or meat left out in indiscriminate, and illegal, poisoning attempts. The irresponsible use of poison baits has also killed numerous working dogs and domestic pets, in some cases where families had just taken their dog for a walk in the woods?, added Minister Deenihan.

Dr Marc Ruddock, Red Kite project manager comments, ?This is demoralizing loss to the Red Kite population in Wicklow with the death of one of the breeding females. The Golden Eagle Trust condemns such irresponsible activity which continues to poison and kill Red Kites, other wildlife and dogs. We would urge anyone with further information to contact their local NPWS ranger or the Garda Síochána and to assist their enquiries and help identify and confront the few individuals who repeatedly and illegally poison wildlife. These illegal actions jeopardise local biodiversity and the economically important and deserved reputation and profile natural Wicklow cherishes.?

The National Parks and Wildlife Service welcomes any information on this case and the use of illegal poisons generally. You can contact their Regional Office in Laragh on 0404-45800 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are charged with the protection of wild birds through the enforcement of the Wildlife Act 1976 and EC Birds Directive 1979. All cases of poisoning are treated seriously and searches of lands and premises are routinely done in the investigation of these offences.

The Red Kite Reintroduction Project has successfully released 120 Red Kites into Wicklow, and anyone who has seen them can attest to their captivating soaring and flying ability. Support for the project from Gun Clubs, Landowners, Farmers, and Tourism Bodies has been good and losses such as this are disappointing for all those involved. This particular kite, Blue Purple G, was amongst the first young kites collected in mid-Wales in 2007 in the first year of the project. Since her release in July 07, she found a mate and is known to have successfully bred and raised three young at a site near Redcross, Co Wicklow. The name blue purple G refers to the unique colour/ number combination of the wing tags fitted which allows project managers to identify each bird.

Rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service exercised legal powers conferred under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) (Restrictions on use of Poisoned Bait) Regulations 2010 and conducted a search of the lands and door to door enquiries. No further birds, animals or bait items were discovered

Female Purple G Poisoned
Fri6th Jan 2012

Following the successful release of red kites during the summer in Dublin and Wicklow, it is with disappointment that we report further recent kite deaths in Fingal. Since the release in July, this year, a total of eight [8] kites have now been recovered dead in Fingal since November.

The deaths include the satellite tagged kite '@' which has flown as far as Co. Mayo on its travels and within a few weeks of returning to Fingal was found dead near Lusk.

Ms Phil Moore, from the Fingal LEADER Partnership expressed sadness saying 'We just can't believe "our baby" is dead. We have all been following the satellite tagged kite since her release and have pictures all over the office of her journey; it is upsetting to know she is now dead'.

There were 39 red kites, collected for Fingal under licence from Wales with project partners, the Welsh Kite Trust. The Fingal Red Kite release programme is part of the final and fifth year of an ambitious project to re-establish red kites in Ireland. The deaths represent just over 20% of the red kites released in the Fingal area.

The Golden Eagle Trust is managing the project, which is funded by Fingal LEADER Partnership through the Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Fingal County Council, at Newbridge Demesne, and a private landowner hosted and facilitated the two separate release cages.

The project is widely supported throughout local communities, a suite of volunteers and landowners. There were over 100 people involved in cage building, collections, feeding and subsequent monitoring of the released kites.

Each kite is fitted with a radio tag which has allowed the project team to follow the kites' movements since release. Whilst these tags allow us to track their daily movements they have also led us to find the dead birds.

Dr Marc Ruddock, Red Kite Project Manager, said 'There is nothing more heart-breaking than having to pick up the carcass of bird and putting it in a bag for post-mortem after having followed its development from a small, downy chick collected in Wales and then watching it flying free in Fingal'.

Early in 2011, a post-mortem protocol was agreed between NPWS, Department of Agriculture and the State Laboratory. Each of the red kite carcasses has been sent for testing at Backweston Campus, to establish the cause of death. This process and the rigorous work undertaken is fundamental to the growing understanding of environmental issues and the threats posed to kites and other wildlife.

It has now been confirmed that at least four of the kites contained the second-generation rodenticide, brodifacoum. This is an anti-coagulant rat poison usually recommended for indoor use only, which causes internal bleeding. It is widely recognised that rodenticides can kill non-target species.

Dietary analysis of the red kites, both in Wicklow and Dublin has shown that they are clearly hunting and scavenging rats, providing a natural control on rodent populations. The red kite is a specialist scavenger and is therefore likely to be at high risk of secondary poisoning if feeding on rats which are dead or dying from rodenticides.

We recognise the requirement for rat and mice control in terms of human health and food safety. But we urge amateur and professional users alike to ensure that rodent control programs are carefully planned and follow a defined treatment period to be effective.

The over-use of some chemicals could lead to resistance and accumulation in the environment. Those in the countryside should ensure best practice use of these chemicals to allow for more effective rodent control in the long-term and minimise the secondary poisoning risk to non-target wildlife. This includes other rodent-eating native raptors and owls such as kestrels, buzzards, barn owls, long-eared owls and red kites.

Best practice rodent eradication strategies record information such as the quantity and location of all baits and require baits to be regularly inspected and not left exposed to non-target animals and birds. Furthermore, dead rodents should be collected and disposed of safely and baits should be removed at the end of the treatment. Urban and rural rodenticide users are urged to be mindful of the potential environmental effects of the use of chemicals.

The farming and shooting communities in Fingal are very supportive of the project and are anxious to continue to control rats and mice effectively and minimise unintentional consequences for natural rat predators.

Red kite @ found dead in Lusk
Sun6th Nov 2011

Red kites bred successfully again in Wicklow during the summer of 2011 producing 17 wild young kites. The final phase of the red kite re-introduction was completed with the release of 59 kites in Wicklow and Dublin. Now in the autumn we report disappointing news that a red kite has been poisoned in Wicklow. The kite was poisoned with alphachloralose.

The dead kite was handed in by a member of the public to the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) Headquarters at Wicklow Mountains National Park. Dead raptors are sent for testing at the State Veterinary Laboratories at Celbridge which confirmed poisoning as the cause of death of the kite.

The week before the kite was found dead, a buzzard was found a short distance away in the same area and it too was later confirmed to have been poisoned with alphachloralose.

These unnecessary deaths have caused serious concern amongst the red kite project team and the local NPWS rangers. These incidents happened north of Woodenbridge, near the core area where red kites spend the winter in communal roosts. In this same area the red kite project has attracted widespread support from local farming, game-shooting and bird-watching communities and amongst local residents and businesses. However, someone in Wicklow continues to flaunt the legislation, and two raptors have died needlessly as a result.

The worst recorded year for poisoning of the re-introduced raptors was 2010 and included four red kites, four white-tailed eagles and two golden eagles (including one poisoned in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland). Following additional legislation, which was enacted by the Irish Government in October 2010, to tighten restrictions on poisoning and increased penalties gave cause for optimism as no red kites, white-tailed eagles or golden eagles had been confirmed poisoned during 2011 - until now. However, at least two peregrines and two buzzards have been confirmed poisoned earlier in the year.

The confirmation of the illegal use of poisons has triggered on-going searches and enquiries in the area. The National Parks & Wildlife Service; of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are responsible for the implementation of Irish wildlife legislation and under the "Restrictions on Use of Poisoned Bait Regulations 2010 (Statutory Instrument 481 of 2010)" Authorised Officers have extensive powers to enter land and premises and to carry out inspections and remove samples for examination, where poisoning has been confirmed.

An NPWS spokesperson stated "some searches have been carried out and more searches will be conducted as required".

Experience in Wales over the last century prove that the light weight kite is not a threat to livestock, game birds or racing pigeons. These are specialist scavengers and kill only smaller prey species. Diet analysis of red kites, in Wicklow over the past two years has revealed they are mostly feeding on invertebrates, rats and young crows; particularly magpies and rooks.

The Golden Eagle Trust and National Parks & Wildlife Service would urge anyone with further information to contact their local NPWS ranger or An Garda Síochána to assist enquiries and help tackle the minority who continue to illegally poison wildlife.

More Info
download the eu_complaint_nov_2009.zip document (4.39 MB)
download the poisoning brochure page 1 document (.3 MB)
download the poisoning brochure page 2 document (.8 MB)
download the poisoning brochure as a single image file document (1.5 MB)

Project Updates pic
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