Here are just a few testimonials from customers about their experiences with Red Kite Tours NI.
"Many thanks for a very enjoyable and informative afternoon. Looking forward to revisiting the sites again. The refreshments were very welcome on a cold day." - Breige Curran, January 2018
"Thanks Shelagh for a very enjoyable afternoon, despite the cold. The lemon drizzle was delicious !!" - David Nixon, January 2018
"Thanks for a great evening Shelagh! Getting warmed up now 😀" - Lucy O'Hagan, January 2018
A BLUE SKY AND RED KITE DAY FOR WILD INISHOWEN!
On a breath-stoppingly cold but beautiful February blue sky day, two intrepid members of Wild Inishowen, Christine Cassidy and Lindsay Hodges, travelled to the stunning surroundings of the Mourne and Dromara Mountain ranges, to meet with Shelagh Henry and go on one of her amazing Red Kite Tours. These Tours have been featured recently on BBC Newsline and UTV’s Lesser Spotted Ulster.
As well as being Red Kite Information Officer, Shelagh is also Environmental Education Guide at Enspire and an Environmenal Education Guide at Ulster Wildlife and is a hugely passionate and knowledgeable advocate for wildlife protection and conservation. She has been running her own small business, Red Kite Tours NI, for the last year, offering guided birdwatching tours in the beautiful County Down countryside and in particular to watch the extra special and rare Red Kites soaring against the glorious backdrop of the Mourne Mountains.
The magnificent birds Shelagh promised us are part of a reintroduction project that began in 2008, to help return to Ireland a bird that is under serious persecution and depopulation. Red Kite chicks were brought over to Ireland from donor stock in Wales and released at two sites, one in Wicklow and the other in County Down.
As Shelagh guided us through gorgeous landscape, we learnt more about these majestic raptors and their struggle for survival. In 2010, the first wild Red Kite chicks to be born in Northern Ireland for over 200 years graced the skies of County Down and they continue to breed each year, despite continued threat and danger. All known Northern Ireland Red Kites are fitted with a brown tag on their left wing and the right wing tag is has a colour denoting the year it was born with lettering unique to each bird.
When we first saw one rising over the horizon, and then a second and third, it was a spine-tingling moment of realising just how remarkable it is to witness one in Northern Ireland at all. Their beautiful reddish brown colouring and distinctive forked tail mark them out from the closely compared Buzzard and their languid wingbeat pattern and use of the tail as a rudder allow them to handle the thermals with expert ease.
One of Christine’s photographs detected a wing tag from a 2013 bird and later we were to see a different tagged Red Kite from 2012. We learnt about their roosting patterns and their searches for territory across the area and the importance of all Red Kite sightings to be reported to allow monitoring of their presence and progress.
When dusk finally fell, we were sorry to leave, but as we said goodbye to the Mournes the next day, we saw what we initially thought was a Buzzard circling high over the Nature Reserve at Murlough. But all we had learnt from Shelagh made us study the patterns again and we realised with absolute joy that we were watching a Red Kite! Stopping to take photographs, we then saw a second Red Kite being harried by a Grey Crow and it was a moment of pure magic to see these birds for ourselves as a farewell to our County Down adventure. Huge thanks to Shelagh for her expert guidance, hospitality and great company. We would thoroughly recommend that all bird lovers and wildlife enthusiasts take this tour for the sheer thrill of seeing a Northern Ireland Red Kite in its own spectacular habitat. A wonderful day that will live long in the memory.