Bulletin No. 4 September 2010. This bulletin complements the Yorkshire Red Kites Newsletter Issue 12 now available here
With the 2010 breeding season at an end we are pleased to be able to report 7 known successful breeding pairs in East Yorks. Whilst this is an increase from 5 successful breeding pairs in 2009 we are able to remain upbeat with regards to the birds progress in the region. We are able to say this with confidence as this year’s figure alone does not reflect what we perceive to be the overall picture. Several tangible factors have made nest site monitoring more difficult this year, just the same as last year, there being an unexplainable trend throughout Yorkshire for a number of established pairs to ‘up sticks’ and move to new nest sites.
At three known East York’s nests the birds moved location, whilst we were able to find two new nests. Despite many hours of observation and searching with unlimited access at two locations we were unable to find this year’s nests. However due to the continuous presence of the birds, and the nature of behaviour often observed, we have good reason to believe that breeding did take place in at least one of these sites. But we cannot confirm the extent or success rate at this time. Unfortunately, we do not have access to three known nest sites, so have had to resort to observing from the public highway. Nest sites are numbered, starting from the oldest/ first discovered in East York’s and running to the most recent, hopefully adding as we go!
Site EY1. Occupied initially in 1999 by a single bird which was joined by another in 2000 – both from the first phase of releases at Harewood. First bred in 2001, raising two young. Successful in all but one year subsequently, raising at least one young in ‘08 and having moved to a new nest, two in ‘09. This year, the pair decided to move yet again resulting in many more hours of persistent observing by one of our group to locate the new nest, built approx. 75mts away, successfully raising at least 3, possibly 4 young.
Site EY2. Occupied in 1999 by a single bird from the first Harewood release. Breeding not proven until 2004 when this bird is believed to have paired up with a bird raised at Site EY1 in 2002, raising three young and have been successful each year since. In 2008 the pair built yet another nest (they already had 3, one of which is the highest recorded Yorkshire nest -80’ up in a Lime tree) quite close to the one they used last year and produced 2 young. Having failed to locate the ’09 nest we were very pleased to be given wider access and were delighted to find a new nest that produced 3 young.
Site EY3. Two untagged adults occupied this site in 2003. There is speculation that they may have been the two young raised at Site EY1 in 2001, breeding between siblings has been known. They raised 3 young. Sadly, the following winter, the top of the nest tree blew down in gales making the nest too exposed for future use. Many hours of observation failed to establish that they bred in the area in subsequent years despite receiving reports of the presence of birds early in the breeding season. However, this year we received repeated sightings and with more than a little good luck found a nest new to us, deep in the wood. However, the nest had a massive amount of old ‘decoration’ so we suspect it had been used before. This pair successfully raised 3 young almost to the fledging (flying from the nest) stage, but then in our last visit to check, sadly we found the badly decomposed remains of one of the young under 2mts tall Bracken, directly beneath the nest. We suspect the bird had fallen from the nest, was unable to fly and the parents were unable to get to it to feed it.
Site EY4. First occupied in 2005 by two birds which arrived from Harewood, one being a Chilterns bird released there in 2003 whilst the other was raised in a nest at Harewood in the same year. They raised two young and have been successful each year since. As last year we were only able to observe from a considerable distance but are confident that the pair raised at least one young.
Site EY5. Established in 2006, the pair at this location produced 1 young, then 2 in ’07, 1 in ’08 and ’09. Another pair that chose to move again in 2010, building a new nest approx. 50mts from last year’s nest. Thanks to help from the estate we were able to observe the new nest from which two young were successfully raised. We believe this pair have religious beliefs as we found remains of a paper Funeral Service that had fallen from the nest!
Site EY6. Established as a breeding site in 2007 but failed. A new male, Orange / Green 10 (raised at Site EY1 in 2006) and new untagged female formed a pair which built a new nest for 2008, only metres from last year’s nest, from which they raised 2 chicks. In ’09 the male bird was observed early in the season adjacent to the ’08 nest so, confident the pair would breed; the site wasn’t visited for some time. Upon returning we found no sign of activity in or around the nest. Despite the continuous presence of the birds in the area and free access in the nest wood and adjacent woods, we were unable to find that year’s nest site. Unfortunately we have to report the same situation for this year, despite unlimited access in the area. Most frustratingly the pair has been seen right across the breeding season but we failed to locate a nest.
Site EY7. First occupied in 2007 but deserted. The same thing occurred in 2008. Early in the season, the nest was active, with fresh wool showing, but was disturbed on 2 occasions that we were made aware of by the Headkeeper. In ‘09 a pair of Kites returned to this nest site and the Head Gamekeeper reported a single young was successfully raised there. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive any information this year but observations from afar showed that 2 young were raised there.
Site EY8. On an estate where we had seen birds infrequently in the last year, we were delighted to find a new nest in 2008 where the 2 year old female, Orange / Green 11 and 4 year old male, Orange / Yellow 12 raised 2 young. Both adults were raised at Site EY1. In 2009, despite the frequent presence of birds in last year’s nest site area there was no sign of activity in or around the nest. Yet another mystery as to if, or where the birds bred. For 2010, the last sighting of this tagged pair of birds was on 26 April and we have concerns as to what may have happened to them.
Site EY9. Another new location for 2008. We were given information of activity in this locality so spent time to establish that the male was a 2 year old Yorkshire bird, Orange / Green 26 (from a nest at Harewood) and the female, White / Green 38, which we had been observing across the winter was a 2 year old from the Midlands. They raised 2 chicks that we observed almost to fledging then, ominously, we lost sight of the female. Sadly we have to report her remains were found at the edge of a field of Rape approx. 3 miles from her nest site. The estate told us three young had been raised successfully in 2009 so the male must have been successful in finding a new mate. Unfortunately, to date we haven’t received any information this year and observations from afar failed to show if this nest was active.
Site EY10. A new nest located because of the much appreciated assistance of the local landowners and access to the nest site. The noisiest pair of kites in East Yorkshire successfully raised 3 young.
This brings our total of known new young Red Kites in our area to a confirmed 16 as against 9 last year. However, if we add up the number of young over the last few years, we estimate there should be in excess of 40 Red Kites somewhere in East York’s so time to keep our eyes peeled! Late news that in Sept and Oct ’10 we are seeing a young (approx 4 or 5 months old) Kite, down from North Scotland tagged Blue/Blue that has decided ‘God’s own county, Yorkshire’ is the place to be! We have received information of several birds across East York’s and are always grateful to receive regular sightings. East York’s is a big area! With this in mind we would welcome any new observers who have both the time and genuine interest to assist us in tracking the population of Red Kites in our county. Despite the severe adverse winter of ‘09/’10 we were seeing communal gathering / roosts in one particular area with a record max. of 28 birds at any one time. Perhaps prey was made more visible on top of the snow!
We had received no more sightings of White/Purple 63, the injured bird that was rehabilitated then released back in to the wild, then earlier this year we were informed that this bird was found grounded back in its natal area, the Midlands and is deemed not fit for release. However, this may not be correct as a different source says the bird is back in the wild! Worryingly, we have to report 4 cases of Primary and 2 of Secondary poisoning to Kites. Primary and Secondary Poisoning. Primary occurs when a Kite has fed directly on a poisoned substance which has then caused its death eg a poisoned bait placed in the open countryside, possibly targeting Crows or Foxes. It is an illegal method of attempted vermin control , being indiscriminate in its effects. Secondary occurs where a Kite has fed on something, which had previously been poisoned. This usually involves a bird having fed on Rats which had legally been poisoned by Rat poison. It is imperative that manufactures instructions are followed. Rats poisoned by
rodenticides should be regularly collected up and safely disposed of to prevent them entering the food train of kites and other scavenging species.
Our Rehabilitation pen has once again proved very useful as three injured Kites have spent periods to recuperate before being released back in to the wild. Having the Pen made the care and observation of these birds much more straightforward than it would otherwise have been.
I hasten to add these are purely our own observations but would welcome comments from anyone interested to reply. Still big number of Brown Hares in our area with an apparent explosion in the number of Stoats. A general shortage of Swifts during ‘summer’ but more House Sparrows around my street in late summer. Many more Bullfinches in the early part of the year. Good numbers of Yellowhammer and Linnets, but fewer Siskins. Large numbers of Buzzard and locally Kestrel in good numbers. A real bonus was seeing 19 English/Grey Partridge near to my home. A good sighting of a Redstart a highlight. Once again there seems to be very few bats in my street this year. A profusion of Orchids in June, however flowers were short-lived, presumably due to the virtual drought at that time. At the end of summer, verges around the Wolds were outstanding as there was no shortage of rain in August! Butterflies numerous in early summer but affected by the wet late summer. As well as all the usual varieties, Common Blue, Speckled Wood and Comma particularly abundant. Ragwort seems to be running rampant in this area of East York’s.
Special thanks to Doug Simpson, MBE, Yorkshire Red Kite Co-ordinator, responsible for the release programme at Harewood, near Leeds for his continued advice and support. Yorkshire Red Kites much appreciates the support now being provided by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. This will enable monitoring of the progress of our expanding Red Kite population to continue. We are also grateful for the continuing support of Harewood Estate and Yorkshire Water -two of the original partnership organisations. The assistance of landowners and their representatives, gamekeepers and farmers over a wide area who have Red Kites on their land is readily acknowledged, as is the care provided for sick and injured birds by several veterinary practices, rehabilitation centres and the RSPCA. Reports of Red Kite sightings received from the general public are always welcome. They help us keep track of the expanding population, a number of new breeding pairs having been located through such records.
Nigel Puckrin. Tel 01759 301275 Email