We draw your attention to the advice given on the How to help Page, stating that the kites, as Schedule 1 Birds of Prey, are protected by law and must not be disturbed at any time during the breeding process. The ringing and wing tagging of the red kite chicks is carried out under special licence.
Look around you when you are walking, cycling or even riding in the Red Kite buses; the kites are very active at present, nest-building and breeding. Several pairs are actually brooding young.
Here is a known female taking a break from incubating egg/s and doing a little foraging for sticks to add to the nest, while the mate takes over the duties.
Image courtesy of Derek Bilton
Image courtesy of Harold Dobson
Red Kites are building their nests
WT3, a Cumbrian kite has joined with our kites in the Muggleswick area, on the flanks of the northern Pennines. Here we see it carrying nesting material to its nest site.
Image courtesy of Lee Steadman
The forecast was not good, but the survey went ahead and reports are coming in. This photograph taken near Muggleswick up on the northern flanks of the Pennines gives an indication of the conditions.
Image courtesy of Harold Dobson
It took place on Saturday 23rd March between 09.00hrs and 12.00hrs in Northumberland and Durham.
The primary aims of the survey are:
(a) to determine how many red kites there are in the north east of England
(b) to determine how widely distributed the red kites are in both counties.
The best way to survey is to find good vantage points, preferably high ground, which overlooks woodland and the adjacent countryside. Kites will be on territory at this time and are more likely to be seen over or near woodland. There is no need to walk through the woodland looking for kites, the aim is just to determine numbers. Please record any breeding behaviour on the forms (click on links below and print off relevant form) e.g. displaying, carrying nesting material, interaction with other birds etc. This will be followed up to confirm whether breeding has taken place or not.
The survey area could be your local patch or a place of your choosing which has mature woodland.
If the weather is poor on Saturday then the survey can be carried out on Sunday morning, 24th March.
To register an interest or if you have any queries contact Ken Sanderson at email@example.com
Here is Wing tag 63, Polo, carrying nesting material to his nest site. Polo has a very full and interesting history, which can be found here: http://friendsofredkites.org.uk/page13.htm#c
Image courtesy of Mick Tilley
North East Red Kites Breeding 2013
To protect the red kites at this vulnerable time, no locations will be given. If anyone wishes to send in information, we ask you to be discreet and not make public the sightings you report. Thank you.
Core area of Kite Breeding Map based on Google Earth
News from Yorkshire Red Kites
Doug Simpson reports that he saw Speedy, our Wing Tag 01 red kite of 2004 last week, with his mate.
Speedy being released in July 2004 Image FoRK archive
2-3 March 2013 Signs of activity here in the last few days
This perched kite could well be T2. This is a visitor which appears to like it here!
Image courtesy of C R Piers
Let me introduce Wing Tag RP T2 (red/purple tags) She is called Trunkle and was born in 2007, at Glen Lednock, Central Scotland. She was befriended by Whittonstall First School.
Mick Render reports:
Today looked like it was going to be brilliant at first. I arrived and the first thing I could see was the Kite carrying the stick.
Another Kite was circling higher to the right of the Kite with the stick so they may be a pair. The Kite with the stick is the untagged Kite with a transmitter on its back as I could see it on another photograph taken within a minute of it carrying the stick.
The other Kite is a Kite which I've seen before and it appears to be very dark. Here, a kite rests.
Images courtesy of Mick Render
I have been back to this area again today and have no doubt that a pair of Kites has taken over the original territory. I have photographed a Kite carrying a twig and this time the twig was taken into the trees. The pair went in twice; the first time they went in and came out together after half an hour. The second time they went in together and this time only one came out half an hour later while the second Kite remained and was still on territory when I left, 1 ½ hours later.
I think I've seen 3 pairs of Buzzards at the same time around , they are either breeding better than the Kites or they are moving into the area from somewhere else. I'm going to have to keep an eye on this area, because the Buzzards definitely seemed to hold the territory and moved the Kites on.
Last two images courtesy of C R Piers
Image courtesy of George Francis
Wing Tag Red Philip on the pylon wire, in the snow. He is one of our most prolific breeders and has been seen in the company of his mate from last year, Wing Tag 43 Swift. He has proved that red kites do not always mate for life; his previous mate was Wing Tag 16 Flag.
Two reports of kites have come in from outside the core area of the Derwent Valley:
- Four red kites in Weardale. This is good news, bearing in mind that previous kites settled in that area, but were later found dead. We hope that these stay safe.
- A red kite has been reported near Bedlington in Northumberland. Again, previous attempts by our kites met with failure, especially in the Powburn area.
We hope to carry out a PRE-BREEDING SEASON SURVEY in March.
If you see any kites away from the lower Derwent Valley, please use our Sighting sheet here on the website to send us your information. We greatly appreciate the support and co-operation of everyone who takes the time to report any news.
Here is a BBC video about the breeding process of red kites:
With a warm and dry start to spring the kites will be back on territory and most pairs will be nest - building by mid March. It is amazing how these birds manage to select and carry their material!
Archive FoRK Donated by Thornley Woods Visitor Centre
Despite the cold weather red kites, like most birds of prey, begin displaying and defending their territories. Non-breeding kites and maturing juveniles will have paired up in the winter roost and "moved out" to forge territories of their own. As the weather becomes only marginally warmer, male kites will begin refurbishing or building new nests ready for the female to lay her eggs and start incubating in April. Behaviour, too, can be aggressive as the kites prepare for the tiring season of raising young and defending their territories. In this image, shot by Ross Forsyth, a kite is having to defend itself and possible food from an attack by a buzzard.
Our monitoring teams spend a significant amount of time locating these territories and nests. Once a nest, or potential nest has been identified, a close watch is kept and progress reported to our Kite Officer, Ken Sanderson. What is interesting is that some of these nests may be in residential gardens, the kites not seeming to mind routine human activity. What a fantastic experience for those people lucky enough to have these magnificent birds of prey setting up home next door!
The monitoring team would like to thank all those people who report sightings of kites engaged in breeding activity; from these observations we are able to confirm many territories.
One of the first signs is when we see kites carrying nesting material as seen in these three images kindly sent in by Mick Render, one of our Members.
and in this one of B6 by Catherine Hall
The kites carry considerable quantities of material for nest-building. Here we see how large the nest is.
Image courtesy of Dave McCutcheon
Image courtesy of Northern Kites Archive
Where do they nest? As their wingspan is five and a half feet, they cannot easily penetrate dense woodland, so they build their nest in tall trees, in deciduous or evergreen forests.
Image courtesy of Ian Fisher
The effort being put into the breeding season is again being divided up between the Monday team, headed by Ken Sanderson, and the Thursday squad of which I am a member.
For monitoring purposes this season, the area has been divided into two with the main road running up the Derwent Valley through Rowlands Gill. The Monday team are operating in the area on the Gibside Estate side and the Thursday team on the other.
On one occasion, the Thursday team, Anna, Tim, Alan and myself had the pleasure of watching a pair building the base of their nest in a tall Scots Pine. The remarkable thing about it was that we were watching from the conservatory at the home of an ecstatic couple in Rowlands Gill who just couldn't believe that kites were building at the top of their garden around 25 yards away. If only the rest of us could be so lucky!
At this stage we are simply locating pairs which appear to be holding territories and, of course, looking for the early nests. The work is hard and occasionally frustrating, as with some cases where pairs are present in eminently suitable nesting areas but don't appear to be doing very much about it.
The Monday team has also had some fascinating sights. Although normally very sociable and gregarious birds, Red Kites do on occasions vigorously defend their chosen patches from others. On one occasion last year, the team witnessed a terrific tussle between rival birds at one of the sites in the Barlow Burn which ended with one of the birds being vanquished from the area.
We are very grateful for reports of any possible sightings away from the core area. Please send in via the mailbox, giving as much detail as possible. This is especially relevant for areas in County Durham, in Tynedale and in the north of Northumberland.
We hope that our Hexham Campaign Think Kite- Act Right will encourage Tynedale residents to look out for the kites and act as our Eyes to the Skies so that the kites can breed safely.
In this photograph, Ruby is sitting on her nest, which appears to include rubbish and sheep's wool.
Courtesy Northern Kites
Red Kite feeding young on the nest