Newsletter (13) added 15th Dec 2011


Newsletter – Issue (13)

How time has flown, it being more than 12 years since the reintroduction of Red Kites into Yorkshire began. From this edition, the Newsletter is being produced in a briefer format. Detailed information about the birds and the Project is available on the above website, where there is also a facility for reporting sightings and other information.

Breeding in 2011

Established sites. Monitoring in 2011 began with checks of the 77 sites at which kites had bred in 2010. In 22 instances the territories were found to be either unoccupied (18) or birds were present but not breeding (4). Three of the 2010 breeding birds were known to be dead (accident – 2, rat poison – 1) and in three other instances the nests had been lost due to tree thinning and clear-felling after the end of the last breeding season. For the most part it was not possible to tell what had caused the absence of missing birds or at what point in the period of 8-9 months between breeding seasons this had occurred.

New sites: Pairs were located at 20 sites not known to have been occupied in 2010. Eight of these pairs may have involved birds missing from 2010 sites, whilst others appeared to be fresh pairs which had established themselves on new territories.

Territorial pairs: Overall, 82 territorial pairs were located, a slight decrease on the 2010 figure of 84. However, the locations of four of the pairs represented significant extensions into new areas, so confirming the geographical spread of the population away from the core area.

Confirmed breeding: Seventy-four breeding pairs were confirmed - a slight decrease on the 2010 figure of 77. Moreover, an unprecedented high failure rate of 16 pairs (22%) resulted in only 58 pairs successfully raising young. Fortunately the average young raised per successful pair (2.1) was up to the 2010 level, resulting in 119 young being raised – a significant reduction on the 2010 figure of 147.

Breeding failures: The cause of many of the breeding failures was not apparent. Where known, failures resulted from:

- a female being found dead on its nest from an undetermined cause;

- disturbance/nest destruction in forestry operations at two locations;

- unauthorised construction of a BMX cycle track running under a nest;

- predation of young;

- new pair adopting an old crows nest in a position susceptible to public disturbance;

- nest dislodged in high winds;

- building operations in woodland close to nest site.

Comments: 1. It is possible that increasing competition for food amongst growing populations of Red Kites and Common Buzzards may have contributed to a slight decline in the number of breeding pairs of kites in the core area. This factor, in combination with the effects of the hard 2010/11 winter, may well have reduced the population in that area to a more generally sustainable level.

2. In addition to the figures recorded above, it is highly likely that there were other territorial/breeding pairs which were not located.

Breeding table






West Yorkshire

44 (43)

39 (42)

33 (40)

66 (85)

North Yorkshire

29 (33)

27 (27)

19 (23)

41 (46)

East Yorkshire

9 (8)

8 (8)

6 (7)

12 (16)


82 (84)

74 (77)

58 (70)

119 (147)

Average number of young raised per successful pair = 2.10 (2.10)

2010 figures shown in brackets


Sightings Reports of Red Kites submitted by members of the public continue to provide much useful information about the geographical spread of the population. Records of birds, whether singles or pairs, seen to be regularly frequenting a new area are particularly welcome. It is by this means that we are able to discover new breeding pairs and monitor the progress of the expanding population. They can be reported either to the contacts named below or through the website


Rat poisons Kites continue to fall victim to poisoning through feeding on rats which have been controlled by the use of rat poison. It is essential that proper procedures are followed and that dead rats are collected up and safely disposed of to prevent scavenging species feeding on them and becoming ‘second kill’ victims. Professional advice on the use of rat poisons should ensure that the correct product is used and properly applied. This reduces the amount of poison introduced into the natural environment and minimises the risk of other species falling victim to their use. Of particular concern is the apparent misuse of poisons based on Brodifacoum, which is licenced for use only in strictly controlled indoor situations.


Rehabilitation Pen The rehabilitation pen, constructed in 2009 through funding provided by Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire Wildlife, has again been put to good use. Three birds which had been found grounded were housed in it in 2011 and subsequently released.


Casualties If it is suspected that a bird has been poisoned or shot, or that its nest has been illegally interfered with, the Police should be informed by phoning 101. It should be requested that the information be reported immediately to a Wildlife Crime Officer. Further advice can be obtained from the RSPB Investigations team on 01767 693399 (office hours) or 07841 804 672.


Suspected poisoning incidents (eg multiple deaths; obvious bait and victim(s) etc.) should be reported to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) on 0800 321600 in addition to the Police. Sick or injured birds may be reported to the RSPCA on 0300 1234999.



Doug Simpson MBE, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Nigel Puckrin (East Yorkshire), Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Acknowledgements We are grateful for the co-operation and assistance of the many landowners and their representatives, gamekeepers, farmers, veterinary practices and members of the public who have assisted in any way during 2011. The ongoing financial support from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for Red Kite monitoring work is very much appreciated.