Scaling the heights in search of red kites
28 August 2012
Media and Communications Officer
Climbing trees in search of red kite chicks may not sound like the average volunteer role. However, that’s exactly what two tree surgeons working for Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) did this summer while volunteering with RSPB Scotland.
SSE Treecutting Chargehands, Jamie Beazley and Scott Livingstone, donated their specialist tree-climbing skills to help RSPB Scotland staff monitor red kites in Perthshire and Stirlingshire.
It’s all part of a project to track the population of red kites in the area. RSPB Scotland staff worked throughout the breeding season to locate nests high in the tree-tops and, with the help of the professional volunteers, fitted 96 chicks with wing tags.
Each chick was carefully lowered to the ground and fitted with a set of wing tags that indicate the area the bird originates from as well as the year. The tags allow members of the public to report their sightings and pass along valuable information that conservationists use to track the movement and progress of the birds over the years.
Claire Smith, RSPB Scotland Conservation Officer for Tayside and Fife, said: “Volunteers are essential to our conservation work across Scotland. Sometimes a task requires a special set of skills and we are grateful to the professional tree surgeons and SSE for providing us with a much needed service, scaling the heights to set up rope access to red kite nests. We are always looking for volunteers with specialist skills to fulfil a variety of roles and encourage everyone with an interest in conservation to get in touch.”
Claire added:“We also rely on the help of the public to report sightings of the tagged birds when out and about enjoying the countryside. If you are fortunate enough to spot one, please record as much information as possible including the colour of the wing tag and the number if possible. The information allows us to monitor the progress and health of the red kite population in the area.”
A complete picture of red kite breeding success across Scotland in 2012 will be available in the autumn.
1. For more information about volunteering with RSPB Scotland, please visit: http://www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering/
2. The red kites were fitted with two tags. The left wing indicates the area the bird originated from (red for Central Scotland) and the right wing colour indicates the year (red for 2012). Each tag also has a letter and number that indicate the individual bird.
3. To report a red kite sighting, please contact Claire Smith at email@example.com or ring 01738 630 783.