It is 10 years since the first of 94 young red kites was released in the North East in an ambitious re-introduction programme for the long-absent bird.
No 1 – named Speedy – was the first to take off followed by No 2, called Scarlet. Both later moved to North Yorkshire to breed.
It is also five years since the setting up of the Friends of Red Kites, which now has almost 300 members.
The 5ft wingspan birds, set free over three years in the Derwent Valley in Gateshead, have certainly made their mark.
There is a Go North East red kite branded bus service, a red kite pub, red kite entrance signs to Rowlands Gill in the valley, while 14 schools have adopted and named their own birds.
“People have been inspired by the birds,which has been reflected in paintings, sculptures and photography. Only music has been missing,” says June Atkinson, Friends of Red Kites spokeswoman.
Today, that will change.
In a project involving the Friends, Sage Gateshead and Newcastle University’s International Centre for Music Studies, compositions by eight postgrad students will be performed by a Royal Northern Sinfonia ensemble.
University head of music Prof Agustin Fernandez, has been working with the composers.
The pieces are all on the theme of red kites and can be heard at the free public event at 2pm today in King’s Hall in the university’s Armstrong Building.
A selection will be made for a concert, On Red Kite Wings, which will be staged at Sage Gateshead on July 5 as part of the 10th aniversary celebrations.
A range of other events will feature on the day around the Sage, including performances by Amble First School in Northumberland – one of the first to adopt a red kite – and the glass sculptures of the bird by Derwent Valley artist Rena Holford.
The red kite mosaic will make an appearance and there will be red kite-related food.
A red kites photographic competition has also been launched, with a closing date of April 4. Details on www.friendsofredkites.org.uk or 0780 190 7832.
This week saw the start of the Friends’ intensive survey of breeding red kites in the North East, which will run to the end of June.
Volunteers are welcome to monitor what is described as a “delicately balanced” population.
It is thought that the population of red kites in the region is around 85 individuals.
Some birds have settled in other parts of the country and five are known to have fallen victim to persecution.