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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Funding boost for Red Kite scheme
Red kite
Red Kites will be reintroduced over a three year period
A project to reintroduce one of the UK's rarest birds to Aberdeenshire has received a funding boost.

RSPB Scotland has been awarded 48,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help re-colonise a former Red Kite habitat on the edge of Aberdeen.

The three-year scheme will release about 90 young birds and monitor their progress.

This autumn, a third Red Kite feeding station in Scotland will be built on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

It will provide supplementary feeding for the birds of prey and a viewing site for visitors where they can learn about the conservation and natural heritage of the species.

Jenny Lennon, the RSPB's Red Kite project officer, said: "Red Kites are spectacular acrobats with a 5ft wingspan and fork tail that capture the imagination of everyone who is lucky enough to see them.

"Previous reintroductions in central Scotland and Gateshead have been really successful, both for birds and people, and we can't wait for it all to get started in Aberdeen."

Environment Minister Michael Russell welcomed the news.

Isolated population

The Red Kite was once commonplace throughout rural and urban Britain.

But persecution by game breeders, taxidermists and egg collectors, especially in Victorian times, saw its numbers plummet.

By the mid 20th Century the species was in such decline that only 30 birds remained in the UK in an isolated population in mid-Wales.

Due to previous reintroduction schemes, there is now a growing UK population, but experts say they are unlikely to reach the Aberdeen area without help.

The Heritage Lottery Fund's manager for Scotland, Colin McLean, said: "People may not readily associate wildlife as part of our heritage but it is just as important as our mountains, castles, literature and industries.

"To lose our native birds would be a travesty."

1m woodland visitor centre opens
15 May 07 |  Northamptonshire
Red kites threatened in Scotland
29 Dec 06 |  Scotland

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