Befriend a Kite Scheme
Following on from the success of the popular Northern Kites 'Adopt a Kite' scheme, Friends of Red Kites have launched a similar scheme.
Kites will normally only be allocated once a year in the spring - we wait to ensure a first year kite has successfully survived the winter. Some kites may never be recorded again after being tagged just before fledging the previous summer.
As radio collars are not fitted to chicks in the nest, we are reliant on visual identification only, so sightings of individual kites can be rare, and there will only be a limited number of kites available for the scheme each year.
'The scheme is open to Primary Schools and above. Schools who apply to 'Befriend' a Kite will be allocated a recently-tagged and active kite when available, for which they then choose a name. Names in the past have been highly inventive, often reflecting the colour of the kites or the name of their school, but sometimes something entirely different, for example Fantastic Flying Fiona and Jammy Dodger.
Each school that 'Befriends' a kite is offered a one-off Presentation and some activity worksheets. Once the school has named their kite, they are given a framed Certificate, giving details of their kite and including a pledge to support and protect kites and wildlife in general, a brief history of their kite so far, and where available, a framed photo of their kite. We will also issue each school a twice-yearly update of their kite and our kites in general.
Six schools have so far been registered on the scheme, receiving their presentations, activity worksheets, framed certificate naming their kite, and a framed photo of their kite. The names chosen have been Bomber Bird, Fire, Petra, Skyla, Yoko and Zola.
Sylvia Jones visited Ebchester C of E Primary School to present the pupils with their Certificate and Photograph. The children found it easy to choose 'Zola' as the name for wing tag (WT)D4.
Zola is an elderly South African gentleman who visits the school and does 'Citizenship' with them. He was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela for a time. He was very excited and enthusiastic when he first saw red kites near the school.
Emmanuel College, Gateshead, named their new kite, WTE2 'Bomber Bird', they had been one of the Adopt a Kite schools, but sadly lost their kite WT40 'Ziggy' to poisoning last year.
We were pleased to be able to offer them a replacement kite, as the College has always been very supportive of the red kite re-introduction programme. Judy Summerson went along to present them with their Certificate and Photograph. This happy event was also covered in the Newcastle Journal.
Clover Hill School, Whickham, were also getting a replacement kite as their previous kite WT36 'Fire Flight' had been found dead in February 2011, although the circumstances were not suspicious. They named their new kite, WTC5 'Fire'.
Hexham Middle School were offered a kite, as part of our 'Think Kite, Act Right' campaign to raise awareness of red kites in Northumberland .
This area is where most of our poisoning of kites has occurred. Following a vote, the name chosen for their kite WTD0 was 'Yoko'.
Newburn Manor Primary School, Newcastle was a school that had missed out on getting an 'Adopt a Kite', so once our scheme had been set up, we were pleased to be able to offer them WTD6 which they have named 'Skyla'.
St. Peter's R.C. Primary School, Gateshead made contact with us through our website asking about adopting a kite, just as we were beginning to develop the 'Befriend a Kite' scheme, and we were eventually able to offer them WTC3. Here is Judy Summerson with the children.
All the schools were delighted to receive their presentation, framed photograph, and kite certificate.
This scheme in the past, has been a great way to involve children at an early age so they become engaged with not just the kites, but with wildlife in general, and the importance of taking care of our countryside, which will hopefully start a lifelong interest.
The original scheme inspired schools in many ways, including painting and drawing kites and school visits to see the kites in the Derwent Valley. Lingey House Primary School, Felling, Gateshead created this beautiful collage of their kite, Ruby.
Rowlands Gill Primary included the image of a Red Kite in the design for their new school badge.
Fellside School had a gazebo designed for their playground which included glass panels depicting beautiful images of kites, as seen here.
Images courtesy of our archives
We hope our scheme will continue to inspire the children of today.
Marian Williams, Befriend a Kite scheme administrator.
If your school is interested in the scheme Marian can be contacted via the "Contact Us" page on this website.