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Tourism Minister to visit Argaty Red Kites in Stirlingshire

Scottish Government Environment Minister Michael Russell had the chance to get close to one of Scotland’s most striking birds of prey at Argaty Red Kites near Stirling.  Scotland’s first ever red kite feeding station at Argaty farm in Doune has proved that wildlife tourism can play a great role in the rural economy.

Argaty Farm owners Niall and Lynn Bowser have made seeing red kites an integral activity on the farm, with a new visitor centre opened in 2008 expected to help double current annual visitor numbers of 5000.  Alongside beef and lamb production, as well as sustainable shooting, Argaty is a great example of rural diversification.

Situated near the pretty village of Doune north of Stirling, the farm at Argaty has become the spiritual home of the Central Scotland red kite reintroduction project, which began in 1996.  Owners Niall and Lynn Bowser found that the sociable raptors released nearby gathered on their farm, attracting bird watchers from near and far.  In order to let people see and learn about these wonderful birds, the idea of the Argaty project was born.

Since the farm started officially accepting visitors in 2003, with help from the RSPB, Argaty has welcomed over twenty thousand people from all over the world to enjoy the spectacle of seeing groups of the graceful birds soaring overhead.  With their 5 foot wingspan and distinctive forked tails, red kites are one of the most striking birds that people are likely to see – from wildlife novice to experienced birder.

Michael Russell, Minister for Environment said:
“I am delighted to be invited to Argaty Farm and red kite feeding station. That these iconic birds of prey can be seen to soar at sites such as this despite once suffering dramatic losses is truly remarkable. Niall and Lynne Bowser have done sterling work along with RSPB Scotland in encouraging the public to get out and enjoy the Scottish countryside. Argaty is an excellent location for wildlife watching, particularly for the uninitiated, as red kites are so distinctive they are easy to spot.

“Farming and wildlife tourism are both incredibly important to Scotland’s rural communities and, of course, contribute significantly to our economy as a whole. Everyone involved should be congratulated on providing not only an excellent visitor attraction but also for demonstrating that a variety of rural industries can happily work side by side”.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management with RSPB Scotland said:
“The fantastic success of red kite reintroductions in Scotland has relied on partnerships of local landowners, farmers and conservationists.  As a threatened European species, improving the Scottish red kite population is increasingly important as part of the international conservation effort, and it’s great that people can come to places like Argaty and see these stunning birds for themselves.”

Argaty owner Lynn Bowser said:
“The red kite project is an excellent opportunity to encourage visitors out onto a working farm, where they can enjoy the rich diversity of wildlife and see where and how their food is produced. Argaty allows people to see farming and conservation working hand in hand.”

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