YRK Newsletter (15)


Newsletter – Issue (15)



This issue of the Newsletter highlights two landmarks reached by the Yorkshire Red Kite Project. Firstly, Issue 14 recorded that there had been 94 territorial pairs of kites located in Yorkshire in 2012. Details of 6 further pairs have since been received, bringing the total number of confirmed territorial pairs in 2012 to exactly 100. Secondly, the number of young known to have been raised in Yorkshire nests has now topped the 1000 mark. More information about the birds and the Project is available on the website, where there is also a facility for reporting sightings and other information.


Breeding in 2013:


Territorial pairs: The checking of sites which were occupied in 2012 showed 17 territories to be vacant. This was half-expected at two locations, one of the adults from each pair having died due to illegal poisoning and accidental causes, respectively. Both were tagged, one being from the Northern Kites’ release near Gateshead whilst the other was from Wales, the first kite of Welsh origin known to have bred in Yorkshire.


Pairs were located at 24 sites at which a presence had not been recorded in 2012. It is likely that these were a combination of new pairs; pairs which had been present but had been previously undetected and some which had moved from other locations.Overall, 99 territorial pairs were located, a fractional decrease on the 2012 figure of 100. It is encouraging that some of these pairs were in new areas, so confirming the gradual geographical spread of the population away from the core area. Three pairs were in residential gardens and 7 pairs were on golf courses.


It is of particular concern that the number of pairs in the western part of the established breeding range has significantly reduced. This coincides with the ongoing detection of illegally poisoned birds, this being an issue which is being addressed by Natural England and North Yorkshire Police.


Confirmed breeding: 88 breeding pairs were confirmed – 7 fewer than in 2012. 75 pairs were successful and raised at least 144 young.



Breeding summary:







West Yorkshire

53 (57)

49 (55)

42 (46)

76 (85)

North Yorkshire

34 (35)

28 (32)

22 (26)

46 (47)

East Yorkshire

        12 (8)

        11  (8)

       11 (8)

22 (17)


99 (100)

88 (95)

75 (80)

144 (149)

Average young raised per   successful pair = 1.92 (1.86). 2012 figures in brackets.


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. Issue 14 recorded that the Continental Supermarket in Roundhay Road had become a regular landmark for sightings. The late summer saw a spate of records from other urban areas of Leeds, notably Bramley, Armley and Farnley. With single birds already resident in several other areas, including Horsforth, Chapel Allerton, Headingley, Meanwood, Seacroft and Crossgates, it appears that they are intent on emulating the tactics of a particular supermarket chain in having a presence in every postcode area! Similarly, kites are regularly seen over the town centres of Harrogate and Wetherby. However, despite this widespread presence, breeding in an urban area is not yet known to have occurred. A regular presence of kites in a particular area of the North York Moors has been noted in 2013. There has been no confirmation of breeding, but their presence there shows the extent to which the population is expanding. Records of kites from this area would be very welcome.


Records of birds, whether singles or pairs, seen to be regularly frequenting a new area are particularly welcome. This helps us to confirm new breeding pairs and monitor the progress of the expanding population. They can be reported either through the website www.yorkshireredkites.net or to the appropriate contact as shown below.


Illegal poisoning: Shortly after Issue 14 was published, two further illegal poisoning victims were reported – bringing the number of known deaths from this cause in 2012 up to three – all in North Yorkshire. In May 2013 a further poisoned kite was found less than 2 miles from where one of the 2012 victims was discovered. It had died from the same poison – alphachloralose – and is the 10th confirmed illegal poisoning victim in that general area since 2001. A further casualty was retrieved from that area in mid-October and post-mortem examination results are awaited. There have been at least 25 Yorkshire-related Red Kite illegal poisonings recorded since 2000, 20 of which have occurred in North Yorkshire. This area has the unenviable record of being one of the worst in the UK for offences involving birds of prey.


Rat poisons: The use of rat poisons to control rat numbers is a legitimate process, provided that substances specifically formulated for this purpose are used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The licensing and approved use aspects of several second-generation rodenticides are currently under review, but the overall message remains the same. Ideally, professional advice should be sought to ensure that a situation is properly evaluated, ensuring that the correct product is used and properly applied. This minimises the amount of poison introduced into the natural environment. It is a legal requirement that regular checks should be made for dead rats, which should be disposed of safely. This reduces the risk of rat poisons getting into the food chain of scavenging species such as Red Kites.


Rehabilitation Pen:The rehabilitation pen, jointly funded in 2009 by Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and based at Harewood Estate, has continued to be very useful. Its single occupant had a longer than anticipated stay. Whilst on its way to recovery from its original problem, it moulted a number of its flight feathers, delaying its release until it became more airworthy.


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.


Simon Bassindale (North York Moors). 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 2013. The ongoing financial support from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for Red Kite monitoring work is very much appreciated.