Suffolk to give Queen another gift

AFTER her successful visit to the county last week, the Queen is set to have another memory of Suffolk – and this one could really take flight!Suffolk Owl Sanctuary (SOS) is preparing to offer the first eggs from a crucial breeding programme to save the red kite to the Queen's Norfolk estate at Sandringham.

AFTER her successful visit to the county last week, the Queen is set to have another memory of Suffolk – and this one could really take flight!

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary (SOS) is preparing to offer the first eggs from a crucial breeding programme to save the red kite to the Queen's Norfolk estate at Sandringham.

Lilibet, a two-year-old red kite who has been paired up with another kite in captivity at the World Owl Trust in Cumbria, already has a royal name. She was given the nickname of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother as SOS bought her and a male kite two years ago in the Queen Mum's anniversary year.

Staff at the bird centre at Stonham Barns, Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket, named the pair Lillibet and Bertie after the Queen Mother and her late husband, George VI, whose first name was Albert.


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Sadly Bertie the bird, like his namesake, died young shortly after the pair were bought from a dealer in Belgium.

However, his death made Lillibet an ideal candidate for the breeding programme that was set up to boost red kite numbers in the UK.

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Sandringham is reckoned to be an ideal habitat for the red kite – whose numbers were at one time critical. At their lowest ebb there were just 12 pairs in Wales and none in England or Scotland.

There are now several breeding pairs across the UK – some 460 birds.

Although the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary have a pair of mature red kites, Bronwyn and Elfyn, who feature in flying displays, the gift to the Queen are thought be the first pair to roam free in East Anglia.

Julie Finnis, head warden at SOS, is writing to the Queen's private secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin, with the offer – although the eggs may be a long time in arriving.

"Lily is too young to breed just yet but she has bonded well with a male kite in the centre in Cumbria and we're hoping she will produce eggs by next spring," she said.

Weblink: www.owl-help.org.uk

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