A GIANT red kite is taking flight around key landscape locations in the North East to celebrate the success of re-establishing the bird in the region.
Local people are invited to join volunteers from the Friends of Red Kites in using more than 150 printed tiles to assemble a 22.5-metre wingspan kite.
The Flight of the Kite project has been backed by a £7,000 grant from the heritage Lottery Fund.
What are billed as “community heritage happenings” have started off with visits to the National Trust’s Gibside estate and land near the Nine Arches viaduct in the Derwent Valley.
The giant kite has also been created at the base of the Angel of the North.
Today – weather permitting – the kite will be put together at Marsden Rock on the South Shields coast at 9am, Sunderland Glass Centre later that morning and, in the afternoon, around the Wearmouth Bridges in Sunderland then Penshaw Monument at about 3pm.
Other future locations include Baltic Square in Gateshead, Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, Low Force at Bowlees, Derwent Reservoir, Hamsterley Forest, Durham Castle and Cathedral and Palace Green in County Durham, St Mary’s Island at Whitley Bay and Hadrian’s Wall and Bamburgh in Northumberland.
The events are being advertised on posters in the localities and on the website www.friendsofredkites.org.uk
The Friends have appointed Keith Bowey, of Glead Ecological and Environmental Services, as project co-ordinator and Kaleel Zibe, of Kaleel Zibe Photography as the official photographer.
Images from the community heritage happenings will form an exhibition which will then tour community venues around the North East.
One of the aims of the project is to help people learn more about their natural heritage, using the region’s red kites as a focus.
Harold Dobson, secretary of Friends of Red Kites, said: “It is fantastic news to have secured this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Flight of the Kite project will help to involve more people in the North East in communicating the story of the red kite’s return to the region.
“In the process it will create a lasting photographic legacy of one of the area’s largest wildlife icons in superb landscape settings, all of which are emblematic of the region.”
The project is building on a successful event three years ago when around 200 people turned up to each hold aloft a tile to make a picture of a red kite at Baltic Square.
The giant kite’s image was drawn by Alan Hart who, as well as being an accomplished wildlife artist, has been a Northern Kites volunteer since 2004.
The tiles were manufactured by Chromazone, a specialist printing firm in the Team Valley in Gateshead which has worked with the Northern Kites Project.