Three newly fledged red kite chicks are soaring over Dublin after a successful breeding programme.
Years of patient efforts to reintroduce red kites into Ireland have resulted in three chicks being fledged in two nests in Fingal this year, the Golden Eagle Trust (GET) said.
It is good news for the kites, which last bred in north Co Dublin more than 100 years ago, but bad news for rats and crows which are among the birds’ favourite fodder.
Efforts to reintroduce the species in Ireland in recent years were initially beset by problems due to the use of second generation rodenticides, leading to a campaign for the responsible use of such chemicals.
The successful Fingal fledgling comes after GET, along with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Welsh Kite Trust, brought back red kites to Ireland between 2007 and 2011.
The Fingal Red Kite release programme was part of the final year of the project and the final batch of 53 red kites was released in 2011 at various strategic locations in Fingal.
Dr Marc Ruddock of GET said the confirmation of the three chicks in 2016 is "hugely rewarding" and means there are now six established pairs of kites.
Hans Visser, biodiversity officer at Fingal Co Council, said this was a "pretty amazing" result as red kites were last breeding in north Co Dublin more than a century ago.
The presence of the species here dates back much earlier. Numerous red kite bones were uncovered from excavations of the 11th century Wood Quay site in Dublin, and were also noted in the Phoenix Park in the 14th century.