The Northern Kites Project comes to an end in July this year. I am sure you will agree that it has been a fantastic success and achieved more than was ever thought possible, thanks to the support of the people of the northeast.
The Project will not be slipping away quietly, we plan to go out with a Bang! Keep an eye out in local press and TV in the next few weeks for a big celebration marking the end of a fantastic five years.
The Northern Kites team would like to thank everyone who has been in touch with the office to report kite sightings in the local area and across the region. With your help we have been able to locate and identify more nesting pairs than ever before. This year there seem to be several pairs of kites nesting in and around the houses in Rowlands Gill, Gateshead. Some very lucky people even have kites in their back gardens! Kites are very sociable and are obviously quite happy to share their living space with us humans!
By late May - early June all the kite chicks will have hatched. Kites usually have two to three chicks. We are still waiting to see exactly how many new chicks we have in the northeast but numbers are looking very good. Parent birds will now be very busy, whizzing around to find enough food to satisfy their growing families. This is an excellent time for us to work together to try and locate some more nests which so far have avoided detection. It is really important that we know where the kites are nesting so that we can monitor the number of chicks hatched each year.
Please keep an eye on any red kites you spot and if you see them carrying food or flying into a nest site please call the Northern Kites office and let us know your sighting on 0191 4961555 or sent an email to: email@example.com. Thank you.
Ziggy at the Highland Cattle Centre on 24th May 2009 (photograph by Mark Mowbray)
Richard Halford, Centre Manager at the Highland Cattle Centre in the Tyne Valley, invited pupils from St. Josephs RC Primary School (situated at Highfield, Gateshead) and Emmanuel College, (situated at Lobley Hill, Gateshead) to the centre recently. The reason for the invite? So pupils could see their adopted kites. Jammy Dodger (WT74), adopted by St. Josephs, and Ziggy (WT40), adopted by Emmanuel College, are currently nesting in woodland at the centre!
The Red Kite Roadshow arrives at Fewster Square in east Gateshead
Go North East's award winning Red Kite bus made a one-off visit to Fewster Square in the heart of Leam Lane Estate, east Gateshead, at the end of May. This special Red Kite Roadshow brought red kites and Gateshead's fantastic countryside to the people of east Gateshead. Staff and Volunteers representing the Northern Kites Project and Gateshead Council's Countryside Team were on-board to share their passion for nature with local residents. Go North East driver Ian Cloe was on hand to help people find out how they could access Gateshead's countryside using public transport.
For the last few years, Northern Kites has been working closely with Gateshead Council to provide opportunities for people who live in the east Gateshead area to find out more about red kites and the chance to come and see them in Gateshead's beautiful countryside. The Red Kite Roadshow was a great opportunity for local people to find out how they can use public transport like Go North East's 'Red Kite' and 'Kingfisher' bus services to visit Gateshead's countryside.
Children visiting the Red Kite Roadshow could take part in craft activities with Gateshead Council's Countryside Team or watch Peter Bambrough, from Bill Quay Community Farm, and Bill Pattison, a Gateshead Countryside volunteer and member of the Green Wood Working Group, doing wood whittling demonstrations making wooden spoons and dressed sticks. Visitors to the Roadshow also had the opportunity to book a free seat on red kite bus safari's taking place on 6th, 13th and 27th June from Leam Lane to the Derwent Walk Country Park. Places can also be booked by calling Northern Kites on 0191 496 1555.
For further information about Go North East bus services please visit: www.simplygo.com or contact Go North East customer services on 0845 606 0260.
For further information about Gateshead's Countryside please call the Countryside Team on 01207 545212
The Red Kite Roadshow arrives at Fewster Square in east Gateshead
The 'Environmental Merit Award' is a Northern Kites scheme that acknowledges the efforts made by Adopt-a-Kite schools or individual pupils who have shown awareness of local wildlife or sustainability issues and have acted upon them. Roman Road Primary School were presented with an 'Environmental Merit Award' in early June to thank and acknowledge the pupils and staff for their fantastic efforts in raising awareness for red kites and their return to the northeast, plus for all the work the school is doing to help the environment.
Activities carried out by the school, situated in Leam Lane Estate in east Gateshead, have included taking part in the Big Clean Up of Springwell Estate over the past few years. Pupils are encouraged to recycle and each class has their own compost bin, the compost is used in the school garden. Pupils also produced some fantastic red kite themed artwork that was recently on display at the Gateshead @ Leam Lane Centre including a giant collage of the school's adopted kite Centurion.
Gateshead Countryside Volunteers begin restoring the garden at Bill Quay Primary, September 2008
Bill Quay Primary School pupils have created a fabulous wildlife and vegetable garden in the heart of the school grounds, with a little help from Gateshead Council Countryside volunteers. This all came about when the school's Eco-council (ten pupils from different year groups who have a special interest in the environment) contacted Bill Quay Community Farm to ask for help in restoring the school's garden to make it more wildlife friendly. From September 2008 through to January 2009, around fifteen Countryside volunteers enjoyed working at the school. The Eco-council regularly participated in activities and monitored the progress of the garden. Early this year, school pupils took over the responsibility of looking after the garden and each class has their own vegetable patch. When Northern Kites heard about all the hard work the pupils had been doing creating and looking after their garden, we felt they definitely deserved a 'Sprite the Kite Environmental Merit Award'!
Restoration almost complete and responsibility for the garden passed to pupils, January 2009
As well as looking after their garden, pupils are encouraged to carry out environmental good practice in school. Pupils have also been doing their bit to promote red kites by producing red kite themed work that was recently on display at Gateshead @ Leam Lane Centre in east Gateshead. Work included red kite posters, factfiles, poems and pupils made red kite kites!
The school is to be presented with the Environmental Merit Award in a special assembly with the Northern Kites Project and Gateshead Council Countryside Volunteers in July.
Northumbrian Water have won a 'Big Tick' award in the Business in The Community's Power in Partnership programme for their work with Northern Kites. Northumbrian Water are one of the eight partners involved in the Northern Kites Project and over the five years of the Project they have been a fantastic source of funding and support, including providing a secure home for baby kites before release at their sewage treatment works at Lockhaugh in Rowlands Gill, Gateshead!
Some of the work done by Bill Quay Primary School
Some of the fantastic red kite work done by pupils attending east Gateshead Adopt-a-Kite schools has been on display at Gateshead @ Leam Lane Centre. Schools displaying work included Lingey House Primary School, who had produced a giant perched kite picture and life sized flying kite picture where pupils had made individual feathers to stick on the kites body - pupils had also done red kite drawings and writing. Colegate Community Primary school, who have a red kite totem pole in the school grounds, had on display some red kite drawings and poems done by pupils. Roman Road Primary School pupils had produced a collage of their kite Centurion and done some red kite artwork and drawings. Brandling Primary School produced some red kite drawings. St. Oswalds RC Primary School had produced a collage of their kite Golden
Work of St. Oswalds RC Primary School
Rainbow and pupils had written poems and done red kite drawings and artwork. Bill Quay Primary School pupils had produced red kite posters, factfiles, poems and a red kite collage made with tissue paper - pupils had also made red kite kites!
Work done by Lingey House Primary school
The work was on display at Gateshead @ Leam Lane Centre for a few weeks during April 2009 giving pupils and parents a chance to go and see the brilliant red kite themed work done by local schools.
Those judged to have done the best work were Lingey House Primary School who won a £30 book token, closely followed by Bill Quay Primary School, winning a £20 book token, and St. Oswalds RC Primary School winning a £10 book token.
A big thank you to all the east Gateshead Adopt-a-Kite schools who supplied work for the display. A fantastic effort by all I am sure you will agree!
Some of the brilliant red kite themed work done by east Gateshead Adopt-a-Kite school pupils:
1) Work done by Lingey House Primary school
2) Some of the work done by Bill Quay Primary School (insert image: Some of Bill Quays work)
3) Work of St. Oswalds RC Primary School (insert image: St. Oswalds work)
Crookhill Community Primary School pupils using binoculars to spot red kites at Sherburn Towers
In March 2009, Class 5 from Crookhill Community Primary School came on a red kite safari in Gateshead. The class visited Barlow, an area where red kites have bred successfully for the last few years. Next stop was the red kites' favourite winter roost, in woodland near Sherburn Towers housing estate in Rowlands Gill.
As well as using binoculars to look for red kites, pupils used special monitoring equipment to detect kites in the area. The children recorded the number of kites seen in each area, their behaviour, and landscape features.
The children got fantastic views of kites, some kites flying so low you could clearly see the colour of their wing tags! One of these kites had an orange wing tag on the right wing and it is just possible that this was the school's red kite Crookhill Blaze (WT59), seen regularly in this area!
Martin Harris (Commercial Director with Go North East) and Peter Huntley (Managing Director with Go North East) show pupils from Wardley Primary school how clean Go North East’s Euro 5 buses are.
Go North East has chosen the red kite to act as a symbol of their engine cleanliness. The new ‘kite mark’ will make it easier for people to see how well their bus is doing to help look after the environment. Using simple illustrations based on a red kite bird taking flight, each symbol lets you see at a glance how each of Go North East’s buses meet European standards on emissions. The level of emissions produced by engines is defined by a Euro classification with Euro 1 being the first level, but still-effective standard, (illustrated by a red kite about to take flight) right up to the highest current standard of Euro 5 (illustrated by a kite in flight.
Pupils from Wardley Primary School, who are on the Northern Kites Adopt-a-Kite scheme waiting list, helped reveal the first symbols in the region to be carried on buses to indicate the cleanliness of their engines. Using a white banner bearing the kite marks, the pupils saw how clean the material stays when it is held over the exhaust of one of Go North East’s Euro 5 Citylink buses when the engine is running.
Each of the five kite marks, representing one of the five European standards on emissions, will begin appearing on the back windows and inside all Go North East buses over the coming months.
Martin Harris, Commercial Director with Go North East said, “Buses are still seen by some people as dirty and smelly and we wanted a unique way to illustrate how our buses meet the highest standards of engine cleanliness. Our award-winning work with Northern Kites, together with our award-winning Red Kite bus inspired us to use the red kites to illustrate the cleanliness of our bus engines, strongly linked as the birds are with environmental success in the region. Go North East was the first bus company in the region to introduce Euro 5 engines and is still the only operator in the region to have buses which meet those exacting standards. We are now able to spread this message simply and clearly with our kite marks.”
Each December, Northern Kites carries out a co-ordinated red kite roost check. We do this to get an accurate figure of how many kites are wintering in the core area in west Gateshead. This is achieved by having staff and volunteers deployed at strategic points throughout the Derwent valley, counting the number of red kites coming into roost in their particular area and reading wing tags to identify individual kites.
Year 13 Applied Science students from Emmanuel College were at the heart of this December’s roost check. They were positioned at the largest winter roost in the core area, near Sherburn Towers housing estate in Rowlands Gill, Gateshead. All observations and data recorded by the students has been used for Northern Kites official roost count. The students were involved in this task as part of their studies. They are working on a project with the main focus being to investigate why the red kite population dramatically declined in the UK. Looking at persecution, and what steps have been taken to reduce this decline and reintroduce the red kite back to the northeast of England. Emmanuel College student Jessica Shaw said:
“The highlight of the visit was observing a red kite and a magpie chasing each other, before flying over the nearby houses…the trip broadened our knowledge and understanding of the red kites giving us further information for our projects. We were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to enjoy such a magnificent bird, and would encourage others to take a keen interest in their well being, as the Northern Kites project comes to an end.”
Northern Kites would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students involved for their hard work and efforts during one of the Project’s most important monitoring activities of the winter.
‘Sprite the Kite Environmental Merit Award’ accepted by Nick Thomson and Jake Eggleston on behalf of Shotley Bridge Junior School.
The 'Environmental Merit Award' is a Northern Kites scheme that acknowledges the efforts made by Adopt-a-Kite schools or individual pupils who have shown awareness of local wildlife or sustainability issues and have acted upon them. Shotley Bridge Junior School were presented with an ‘Environmental Merit Award’ in early February to thank and acknowledge the pupils and staff for their outstanding efforts in raising awareness for red kites and their return to the northeast plus all the work the school is doing to help the environment.
Activities carried out by the school have included a week of red kite activities, where all Literacy and Numeracy lessons were given a red kite theme and pupils had the opportunity to produce a report on red kites. Pupils have created a life-size paper mache kite - each child made at least one feather for the bird’s body and were asked to write an interesting fact that they had learnt about red kites on the back. The paper mache kite now ‘flies’ in the school hall, where it is suspended from the ceiling. A huge red kite display also takes up one wall of the school hall and features a life-size red kite collage surrounded by red kite work produced by pupils. The school has also raised money for the RSPB by collecting donations for pin badges and takes part in the RSPB bird watch survey. The children are doing their bit to help the environment and the school has both bronze and silver Eco School status. The children have produced posters, which are displayed around the school, to encourage conservation of water and electricity. Pupils have also established a recycling scheme through the whole school. Paper recycling monitors Nick Thomson and Jake Eggleston give up every afternoon break to collect paper for recycling from around the school. Both students accepted the Environmental Merit Ward on the school’s behalf. A valiant effort by the school I am sure you will agree!
Now the school’s Eco club are developing a wildlife friendly outdoor area. This will include bat and bird boxes, a bird feeding site and area for planting.
Dave Anderson MP presents the ‘Sprite the Kite Environmental Merit Award’ to School Councillors at Ryton Community Infant School
Ryton Community Infant School pupils and staff have been fighting the cause for the honey bee. The children wrote to their local member of parliament, Dave Anderson MP, about it and he has been pursuing the matter on their behalf. It is a subject that he and others have already raised an early day motion. When Northern Kites heard about all the hard work the school had been doing to help the honey bee we felt they definitely deserved a ‘Sprite the Kite Environmental Merit Award’!
Mr. Anderson MP visited Ryton Community Infant School recently along with Mr. and Mrs. Graham, local beekeepers from Weardale, and the Northern Kites Project. Mr. Graham spoke to the children about how important honey bees are as not only do they produce honey but go onto pollinate many of the plants and vegetation we eat. He told pupils about the ‘varroa mite’ which is a posing a major threat to the honey bee population of the UK. It sucks the blood of European honey bees killing a colony in 3 to 4 years. The school are now looking at ways they can help bees by planting bee friendly plants in an area of the school grounds.
Northern Kites commended the school for their efforts and Dave Anderson MP presented the ‘Sprite the Kite Environmental Merit Award’ to the school councillors on Northern Kites behalf. He praised the school for all their efforts telling pupils that he is going to do all he can to help the honey bee. If there were no bees to pollinate the plants, many plants would die out leaving a lot less food for us - certainly food for thought!
For further information about what you can do to help save UK bees visit: www.saveourbees.org.uk
Northern Kites representatives at the Chronicle Environment Awards ceremony after being presented with their finalist certificates for the Community Group Award, Environmental Project Award and Environmental Individual Award
The Chronicle Environment Awards, in partnership with the Environment Agency, is part of the Evening Chronicle’s Go Green campaign and looks to reward people whose actions are having a positive effect on the environment to help others understand how taking small steps at home can have a big impact on a global scale. Northern Kites was shortlisted in three of the awards five categories!
Northern Kites volunteers were one of three finalists for the Community Group Award. All of the work achieved by the Project would not have been possible without the amazing dedication of our volunteers who have contributed an incredible 15,000 hours to date since the Project began in 2004. The volunteers have assisted in every aspect of the Project’s work. Project manager Keith Bowey said “I would love to see the volunteers win because I don’t know how to express the admiration we have for them. The key ingredient to our success has been the people. The volunteers are doing so much and have done it for the sheer love of it, they don’t get paid. They have turned this into the “People’s Kites”.
Northern Kites volunteer Ken Sanderson was one of three nominees for the Environmental Individual Award. Ken has been involved in every aspect of the Project’s work since it began in 2004. He has been instrumental in looking after and releasing kites into the wild and monitoring and tracking red kites. He also leads health walks and other kite walks allowing people to learn more about these birds. Ken said “It’s something I feel very passionate about. I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. No matter how many times you see kites they are still amazing, as they are such a majestic bird in the sky. It is wonderful to bring them back into their natural environment and gives other people the opportunity to see them”.
The Northern Kites Project was one of three projects shortlisted for the Environmental Project Award. Representatives from Northern Kites attended a recent awards ceremony celebrating the environmental achievements of individuals, community groups, schools and businesses from across the North East. Sadly, Northern Kites did not win any of the categories it was shortlisted for, however, being a finalist in three out of the five Chronicle Environment Award categories is an amazing achievement!
Huw Irranca-Davies MP admiring the Red Kite bus collage created by pupils at Rowlands Gill Community Primary School (image copyright RSPB)
On 23rd October, Northern Kites provided the backdrop to the official launch of the RSPB’s Bird of Prey Campaign. Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MP visited the Derwent valley to put his name to a pledge recognising the importance of birds of prey to our natural heritage. The Minister visited the Northern Kites project and was given a taste of red kite culture, arriving on one of Go North East’s fantastic Red Kite buses. He visited Rowlands Gill Community Primary School to admire their school badge, featuring a red kite, along with their red kite bench, totem pole and red kite bus collage. Pupils also performed a red kite dance. The Minister heaped praise on the Northern Kites Project and was treated to a spectacular flying display of five kites above the school. He then proceeded to the National Trust’s Gibside Estate where he, along with representatives from 25 organisations, including the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Natural England, the National Gamekeeper’s Association and RSPCA signed a pledge and stated “There should be no place in England’s future for the illegal killing of birds of prey”. On leaving, the Minister was presented with a bottle of Wylam Brewery’s Northern Kite ale, a tasty reminder of just what an impact the red kites have made in the northeast of England.
The RSPB are running the Bird of Prey Campaign to stop persecution of all birds of prey in the UK, for further information visit www.rspb.org.uk
Children from Roman road Primary celebrate!
More than 100 schools across the northeast have now adopted red kites. Roman Road Primary School in Leam Lane, Gateshead is the hundredth school to adopt one of our wonderful birds. Children at the school, with numerical and historical inspiration, have named their red kite ‘Centurion’.
Bronia Lacey, adopt-a-kite teacher at Roman Road Primary School, said, “This is such a brilliant story. The whole school were involved in naming the kite and it turned out to be extraordinarily appropriate to name it ‘Centurion’! Using the kites, and the scheme, is going to be a great way for our children to learn about the environment.”
The Adopt-a-Kites scheme has been so successful, that the Northern Kites Project has had to develop a new educational scheme called Kids4Kites to meet the demand from schools for red kite educational materials.
Take a look at our Education pages for more information.
Being physically active is very important. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, such as brisk walking can bring a whole range of health benefits. A recent health study has proven that red kites make you feel better, so for a wonderful way to meet new friends and improve your health why not join one of our red kite health walks!
Red Kite Health Walks take place every Monday at 2pm. Meet at Derwenthaugh Park car park at Winlaton Mill. There is no need to book, walks are free and open to anyone over the age of 16 who wants to enjoy Gateshead’s countryside and improve their fitness. All walks are led by Northern Kites staff and volunteers who have been trained as voluntary health walk leaders. They will do their upmost to ensure you have a lovely, safe and interesting walk.
Please see our Events page for further information
Representing Northern Kites volunteers at the regional awards ceremony are from left to right: Alan Hart, Sylvia Jones (individual Community regional winner), Anna Newson and Ken Sanderson (individual Heritage regional winner)
Nationwide Building Society and the Heritage Lottery Fund have joined forces in a new awards scheme for 2008. The Nationwide Community and Heritage Awards scheme aims to recognise the best and most inspirational volunteers in the UK who have made a real difference to people’s lives. The awards scheme consists of two themes: Community, recognising those who have made an impact in their local community and Heritage, recognising those who have volunteered to become involved in saving a part of community heritage and sharing it with others.
We are delighted to announce that at the regional awards ceremony in July, Northern Kites volunteers Sylvia Jones and Ken Sanderson were both presented with individual awards (each being one of the three regional winners in their respective categories, Community and Heritage) and Northern Kites volunteers were collectively awarded the northeast’s Heritage Hero award! Our Heritage Heroes went on to represent the region in the scheme’s national finals at the Tower of London, in November. Sadly, they did not win the national award but were the only wildlife project that reached the national finals, an amazing achievement!
Volunteers are at the heart of everything the Northern Kites Project has achieved. They have shown amazing dedication, contributing over 14,000 hours to date since the Project began in 2004. They have assisted in every aspect of the Project’s work from monitoring the kites in the wild, helping at public events, supporting education programmes, delivering community presentations to administrative tasks. Due to their passion and enthusiasm, they have allowed the Project to deliver so much more than would otherwise have been possible.
The cover of Jules Burnett's book
Go North East has scooped first prize in the Business category of Northumberland Wildlife Trust's 2008 Conservation Awards. The prize was won for their Red Kites campaign, supported by the Northern Kites Project, for the 'Let's Go Flying, Kites' children's book.
The campaign began with Go North East's innovative work on the branding of the 'Red Kite' bus service - which runs from Newcastle City centre to Consett via 'kite country'. Following on from the bus campaign, Go North East funded the production and publication of 'Let's Go Flying, Kites' with the aim of raising awareness of red kites and encouraging people to access the kites and countryside using more sustainable transport.
'Let's Go Flying, Kites' is the UK's first children's picture storybook about red kites and their conservation. The book was written and illustrated by local author Jules Burnett. He explains "The book tells how red kites were introduced to the North East after more than 170 years, following the antics of two young chicks, Squawk and Squeal. Go North East's 'Red Kite' bus features as the environmentally conscientious way for visitors to see the birds."
The book was officially unveiled by Martin Harris - Commercial Director of Go North East, at an event hosted by Seven Stories the centre for children's books, on 29th November 2007.
Attending the book launch were children from Rowlands Gill Community Primary School, these pupils had helped develop aspects of the book's storyline. The author presented the very first copy of 'Let's Go Flying, Kites' to pupil Thomas Pye at the book launch.
Go North East have also generously donated 400 copies of 'Let's Go Flying, Kites' to Adopt a Kite schools across the region!
'Let's Go Flying, Kites' is available from the Seven Stories bookshop. For further details contact:
Seven Stories on telephone: 0845 271 077 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The book is also available by mail order from:
Squawk and Squeal Publications on telephone: 0191 488 0344 or email: email@example.com
For further information about Go North East's 'Red Kite' bus service please visit: www.simplygo.com or contact Go North East customer services on 0845 606 0260.
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