Red Kite Rapture

Already again becoming familiar in some parts of the UK, we hope that before too long, the distinctive fork-tailed silhouette of the Red Kite will become a familiar sight in the skies of East Anglia

The breeding season is always an exciting time for us here at the Sanctuary and 2010 has proved to be a very successful year.  You might think that once you’ve seen a few fluffy chicks the novelty would wear off, but each new little life brings its own sense of awe and wonder each time.  And this year has been even more special than usual due to the unexpected arrival of two raptor species that we have never bred here before.
Our two exciting ‘firsts’ this year were our Tawny Owl and Red Kite chicks.  Tawny Owls of course are now doing much better in their natural environment, thanks to various conservation and nest-box schemes, including our own. Being night hunters, however, they are not always easy to spot in the wild, so our resident Tawnies do provide a rare opportunity for visitors to see this elusive bird up close and to learn about their lives, habits and requirements in the wild.

The handsome profile of Elfin, father of our two new Red Kite chicks

Our two Red Kite youngsters were hatched in May and - having since been carefully hand reared by general manager Andy Hulme & the falconry team to give them the very best start in life - are now in full plumage and beginning to participate in flying demonstrations.
The father, Elfin originally came to the Sanctuary ten years ago.   The mother - a wild, disabled bird - was sent to the Sanctuary in 2008 having been found with a broken wing under a power line.  The falconer she came from wanted her to have the company of a male, in the hope that they may breed. Having been given special sanction for this by the licensing authority, DEFRA, the result is very pleasing!

Soon you will be able to observe these magnificent raptors in flight over Stonham

The arrival of these two new chicks is especially exciting since, although the species is doing well in the wild in areas such as the Cotswolds, Yorkshire, Scotland and of course Wales, it is still rare in this area. If the Sanctuary is able to successfully develop a breeding core at Stonham and with the correct permissions & conditions to effect a release programme, it may not be too long before the distinctive fork-tailed silhouette of the Red Kite is seen flying free in the skies of East Anglia, too.

Meanwhile the two new arrivals, named Nessa & Bryn, are a fantastic addition to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary raptor family and will afford the Centre a tremendous opportunity to help educate visitors about the revival of this once near-extinct species.  They will also provide a wonderful addition to the Sanctuary’s Education team, offering a great chance for kids to see this magnificent bird up close and to learn about the importance of its conservation.