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Monday, September 6, 2010

Pupils' red kite found dead

AN investigation has been launched after a red kite adopted by Ponteland High School was found dead in suspicious circumstances.
The bodies of Ponteland Sunrise and his female companion Ziggy were discovered within two miles of each other at Hindley, near Stocksfield.

They have been sent to the London Institute of Zoology for forensic analysis to determine how they died and both the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the police are investigating the deaths.

The school adopted and named Ponteland Sunrise, the first red kite chick to be born in Northumberland for almost 170 years, in 2007.

He stayed in the region along with many of the 94 kites re-introduced by the Northern Kites Project and this spring he nested with Ziggy, who was adopted by Emmanuel College in Gateshead, at the Highland Cattle Centre, near Stocksfield.

Chairman of Friends of Red Kites Ken Sanderson said: "The birds were wing-tagged so we have been able to identify them.

"I have asked for the forensic investigation to be fast-tracked and we are now awaiting the results."

The red kites have bred at least one chick and experts say it will have died with no parent to feed it.

RSPB Investigations Officer James Leonard said: "The kites are an essential part of the heritage of Northumberland and it is essential that we understand why they have died.

"It would be unusual for a pair of healthy birds with a newly-hatched chick to have died naturally, but we will know more when we receive the results of the forensic tests."

During the five years of the project, the red kites brought in £1.72million to the regional economy.

Anyone with information about the deaths is asked to telephone police on 03456 043043.