Newsletter (14) added 17th September 2012


Newsletter – Issue (14)

This Newsletter contains details of the 2012 Yorkshire Red Kite breeding season and news of other developments since the previous edition. More 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 2012:

Territorial pairs: Pairs were located at 30 sites at which a presence had not been recorded in 2011. It is likely that these were a combination of new pairs; pairs which had been present but undetected in 2011 and some which had moved from other locations – no fewer than 18 sites occupied in 2011 being vacant in 2012. Overall, 94 territorial pairs were located, an increase on the 2011 figure of 82. Some of these were in new areas and confirmed the ongoing geographical spread and consolidation of the population away from the core area.

Confirmed breeding: 92 breeding pairs were confirmed – 18 more than in 2011. 78 pairs were successful and raised at least 145 young. Several nests failed at the small chick stage, it being likely that the combination of torrential rain and cold nights took their toll. Conversely, young which were well-feathered stood up well to the frequent bouts of heavy rain to which they were subjected. The average young raised per successful pair (1.86) was down on the previous figure (2.10), though the overall results were appreciably better than expected.

One nest failure occurred due to its partial collapse - whilst there were remarkable escapes at two others, they being found in heaps on the ground. There were no remains of young birds underneath them and searches in the surrounding woodland produced sightings of fledged young. In another instance two young were apparently blown from their nest, being found on the ground below. One was dead but the other was alive and well. The fortuitous availability of a ‘cherry-picker’ enabled the live bird to be placed in a safe position in a tree close to the nest site. It survived, as did a third young one which had escaped being blown from the nest.


Breeding summary:






West Yorkshire

54 (44)

53 (39)

44 (33)

81 (66)

North Yorkshire

32 (29)

31 (27)

26 (19)

47 (41)

East Yorkshire

8 (9)

8 (8)

8 (6)

17 (12)


94 (82)

92 (74)

78 (58)

145 (119)

Average number of young raised per successful pair = 1.86 (2.10)

2011 figures shown in brackets

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

Sightings: Reports of sightings of Red Kites submitted to our website show how widespread they have become. Of particular interest are the reports of birds seen in urban areas, notably in Leeds. The Continental Supermarket in Roundhay Road has become a regular landmark for sightings, though breeding in an urban area is not yet known to have occurred. 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

Illegal poisoning: It had looked as though we had got through 2011 without a single confirmation of a Yorkshire kite death caused by illegal poisoning. However a bird found in a distressed state in North Yorkshire on 28th December and euthanased by a vet was found to have been a victim of an illegal bait dosed with alpha-chloralose. Another North Yorkshire victim found in May 2012 had no fewer than 6 poisons in its system. It had died after feeding from the carcass of a small rabbit which had been deliberately dosed with 3 different insecticides. The kite also tested positive for three rodenticides, showing that it had fed on poisoned rats – see below. Two more North Yorkshire kites showing symptoms of alpha-chloralose poisoning were successfully treated and released.

Rat poisons: There is increasing concern regarding the DIY use of rat poisons - especially those based on brodifacoum, which is a substance licenced for use only in strictly controlled indoor situations. Professional advice on the use of rat poisons should ensure that the situation is properly evaluated and 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.

Rehabilitation Pen: The rehabilitation pen, constructed in 2009 through funding provided by Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire Wildlife and based at Harewood, has again been put to good use. Two kites which required assessment and rehabilitation were housed in it in 2012 and successfully 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 680551 (07595 654947 out of office hours). 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 2012. The ongoing financial support from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for Red Kite monitoring work is very much appreciated.