Kite competition takes off

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As part of the Galloway region’s 2013 Wild Spring Festival, a competition is being run for children to get outdoors and look at nature.

“Catch a Kite Tag” will run throughout the festival until April 14 and RSPB Scotland is asking kids to look for red kites across the countryside or on the Galloway Kite Trail and try to read their wing tags.

Entry is free and open to anyone under the age of 16 and there are two pairs of binoculars as prizes for the winners.

Calum Murray, RSPB community liaison officer, is running the event. He said: “With fewer children now getting outdoors to explore nature or play in the fresh air, we are finding young naturalists are becoming rarer.

“This competition is aimed at getting kids to look for red kites, one of the many charismatic creatures we have in this part of the country. If they look closely at these birds, many are carrying plastic wing tags, so that we can identify them. Any child who can either photograph the kite or write down the tag code and colours may have a chance of winning a brilliant pair of children’s binoculars!”

To get closer to the red kites, RSPB Scotland is running some events on the trail. As in previous years, the close-up spectacle of dozens of red kites displaying their amazing aerobatic skills can be enjoyed for free this Saturday, April 6, at Bellymack Hill Farm kite feeding station, near Laurieston, courtesy of owner Anne Johnstone. The open day will be from 1.30-4pm, with the feed taking place at 2pm. RSPB Scotland’s red kite team will be present to answer questions about the kites and other wildlife in the region.

A guided walk will also take place on Thursday, April 11, at Mossdale. The Trek to the Secret Cages will begin at the village car park and follow the route of the Mossdale Walk, before taking a detour to the site where kites were first released 12 years ago. The event will take place from 9.45am to 1pm and offers the chance to see interesting wildlife beneath your feet as well as in the air. Kids attending can also get involved in a Scavenger Hunt.

More information about the competition and year-round events can be found online at www.gallowaykitetrail.com or you can get in touch with Calum Murray to find out more on 01556 670464. Be prepared for the Galloway outdoors. Telescopes and binoculars will be provided at the feeding station but if you have a pair bring them along. Many kites often land in nearby trees, easily seen from the visitor centre and older viewing hide at the farm, so there’s a good chance of seeing them perched or gliding immediately overhead.