Population of the Red Kite in SW Northumberland

The emerging Red Kite population in southern Northumberland is a spin-off from the Gateshead reintroduction programme, where birds were obtained for release from successful nests in the Chilterns, which in turn came originally from Spain. Northern Kites released 20 kites in 2004, 41 kites in 2005 and 33 kites in 2006. 11 kites were born in the northeast in 2007, 10 of which have been wing-tagged. 22 kites were born in the northeast in 2008, 11 of which have been wing-tagged. At least 20 kites were born in the northeast in 2009, 4 of which were tagged. In 2010 despite the very cold weather in the early part of the year 24 kites were fledged of which 13 were tagged.

The Friends of the Red Kites (FoRK) have taken over the official monitoring of the Red Kite reintroduction into NE England. The last breeding report on their web site is for 2014 although that for 2015 can be found on the N&TBC web site: North East Red Kite Breeding Report 2015, North East Red Kites Face Another Difficult Year, Ian Kerr & Ken Sanderson FoRK. The report for 2016, Friends of Red Kites 2016 Breeding Report for the North East of England, Ian Kerr & Ken Sanderson NRG, shows that 35 territories were occupied, almost entirely in Gateshead and Co Durham. Breeding was successful at only 9 sites, but this figure 'must be regarded as the absolute minimum'. The one site in Northumberland that they record for 2016 is dealt with in some detail:

The success involved a very late nest in the Stocksfield area where two young did not fledge until early August, by far the latest recorded since breeding resumed in the region. The pair may have failed earlier, perhaps after long clashes with local Buzzards, before producing a second clutch. The nest was discovered during commercial felling operations when a harvesting machine was within 60m of the mature Scots Pine chosen by the pair. A visiting birdwatcher had first raised the possibility of nesting in the area. Shortly afterwards, a forester, familiar with kites after taking his children to see them in the Derwent Valley, noticed a bird slipping away from a nest. The landowners contacted FoRK and timber operations were immediately halted at considerable cost and disruption to the estate. The nest was regularly monitored and two young were ringed in mid-July when one of them was still too small for wing-tagging. FoRK would like to express its appreciation for the co-operation of this estate.

There are some pertinent questions here on the FoRK methodology. Exactly what is the extent of their monitoring programme? Why are all landowners treated with such suspicion, especially considering the example above? Is seeking political capital, to the extent of finding a stick to beat the landowners, the overriding aim? Employing the Northumbria Ringing Group (NRG) to do the survey work may be a mistake: they are incompetent and appear to have an eco-left agenda.

The general tone of the 2015 and 2016 reports is downbeat with some accusations of persecution by landowners. In particular the reports by FoRK as a whole paint an extremely bleak prospect for the Red Kite in Northumberland with no more than one pair a year. The difference between the totals of FoRK/NRG and those of NR, shown in Table 1 below, is therefore very striking. In 2016 NR made visits every 10 days from February-April to the core area between Stocksfield, Bywell, Prudhoe and Whittle Burn. He found very few birds in February, March and early April, with full occupation not occurring until 17/4. So doing the initial kite search in March, as I believe is done by FoRK/NRG, is not going to find many and will give a very misleading idea of the numbers present. I believe no subsequent visits are made by FoRK/NRG to sites, which were not occupied in March. The Northumberland kites either spend early spring in feeding areas in the Derwent Valley or migrate further afield in the manner of some continental populations. One well-watched site in Bywell was occupied in 2016 from 17/4-12/11. The occupation by month in 2016 for NE England shows an absence from December-February and low numbers in March and from October-November. Records increase from April-June and the peak occurs in August and September. Very low numbers are recorded in July, suggesting a late breeding season. This pattern is associated with a summer visitor, with quite brief display noted in the spring and with greatest prominence noted in family parties post-breeding. Low numbers in the middle of the season are associated with secrecy while actually nesting. This is similar to the pattern with Honey-buzzard. Unfortunately none of the birds in this part of the Red Kite population in NE England has been ringed, missing out on the chance of interesting recoveries or sightings.

Conspicuous Red Kite movements are now noted in spring from April-June in the UK, particularly in SW England and Wales, running into hundreds of birds. Initially the birds were thought to be from the continent. The consensus now appears to be that these are non-breeding birds from the rapidly increasing UK population but it needs to be borne in mind that the early birds in the movement may be adults if the classical migration model is followed with adults returning first and immatures second; also adults tend to fly higher than younger birds, meaning that younger birds are over-estimated as the proportion of the flock. An early discussion BirdForum 120883 in August 2008 considered the question: Why don't English Red Kites migrate? But the question proved to be premature as substantial movements were being noted: “Amazing sight as 186 red kites are spotted soaring over Cornwall” on 8 June 2015 in the Western Morning News WMN; Red Kite influx in West Cornwall 3rd June 2011 Swopticsphoto; Movement of Red Kite in Wales today 3rd June 2011 BirdForum 202189. Devon Birds [Devon Bird Report 2015, p.54] reports county totals in 2015 of 73 in April, 224 in May, 59 in June, with most noted in East Devon of 131 and on Dartmoor of 88. The birds are supposed to move initially W over Devon down to Cornwall, where they become blocked by the sea; they then return E. Mark Darlaston [Red Kites – updates and comments, Devon Birds, 62(1), pp.23-25 (2009)] noted that the movements were associated with anticyclonic conditions, that the movements were most likely from our expanding British population, perhaps with some continental birds, and that young birds were involved. Whatever, more work is clearly required on these movements with maybe some linkage to the Honey-buzzard position emerging, where initial knee-jerk reactions that the birds came from the continent have proved to be wrong.

All the data in Table 1 refers to the study area in south west Northumberland, with survey work done by NR. Initially the reintroduction programme into NE England was a success in the core area of the lower Derwent Valley but in Northumberland only the Wylam area was firmly colonised with a nest very close to the county border with Gateshead. In 2008/2009 the Northumberland position was more encouraging with 4 broods produced from 11 occupied sites, mainly in the Tyne, in 2008, and 10 sites occupied in 2009. This early optimism faded rapidly in 2010 with some well-publicised poisoning incidents and only 4 sites were occupied with one brood noted. It is probably fair to say that all raptor colonisations are protracted processes, partly because the new pairs are inexperienced and take time to be productive but the poisoning incidents severely stress the fragile colonising population. The worry for the Red Kite population in NE England in 2010 was of course that it would become ring-fenced, as allegedly with the northern Scottish population, by hostile landowners on the northern edge. In 2011 these fears were allayed to some extent by a strengthening of the colonisation in Tyne Valley E and Derwent and a pair breeding successfully at Bywell, close to the poisoning incidents of the previous year. In 2012, despite a very wet breeding season, the species consolidated the gains of 2011 with 5 broods, the highest number to date; productivity was low with apparently only one pair raising 2 young but the overall result was encouraging. In 2013 the greater optimism was maintained with a further increase to 7 broods; however, productivity remained low at just over 1 young/successful site, perhaps because of the late spring. This increase in broods was maintained in 2014, when there was a sharp increase in occupied sites in Tyne Valley W. Consolidation occurred in 2015 in Tyne Valley W and E and Derwent with a record 9 broods, totalling 12 young, but there was little sign of a move further W. The year when the colonisation appeared to be secure was 2016 when the number of broods more than doubled from 9 to 22 with a similar increase in the young fledged from 12 to 30; the Derwent area on the northern flank of the Gateshead population, extending onto the grouse moors up the Beldon Burn, was a major contributor to the success. Colonisation also appeared to the extreme W in the upper South Tyne possibly from the Grizedale releases.



Year

Number of localities where signs of occupation

Number of broods

Number of juveniles fledged

2006

2

0

0

2007

5

1

1 (1x1)

2008

11

4

6 (2x2, 2x1)

2009

10

2

2 (2x1)

2010

4

1

2 (1x2)

2011

6

4

5 (1x2, 3x1)

2012

9

5

6 (1x2, 4x1)

2013

13

7

9 (2x2, 5x1)

2014

18

7

8 (1x2, 6x1)

2015

19

9

12 (3x2, 6x1)

2016

30

22

30 (8x2, 14x1)

Table 1: Numbers of Red Kite found from 2006-2016 in SW Northumberland

More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2006 are available in Table 2.1:

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne

1

2

0

1

0

0

1

Derwent

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

2

3

0

2

0

0

0

Table 2.1: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2006


Maybe the birds recorded this year were just exploring the area. A single bird was recorded on 3 dates S of Dipton Wood from May to August. A pair were up high over Newburn at the end of March. Both count as probable breeding but attempts may not have been very serious. In November a single bird was recorded at Black Callerton in Tyne Valley East.

More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2007 are available in Table 2.2:

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Allen

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

1

2

0

1

0

0

0

Tyne

3

4

1

1

1

1

2

Derwent

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

5

7

1

2

2

1( 1x1)

2

Table 2.2: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2007


A reasonable start with a pair confirmed breeding near Wylam, raising 1 young. In my survey this pair were down at the probable level but very happy to take the record as confirmed in the table above, from the FoRK survey. Other probable sites were at Greenshaw Plain in the Lower South Tyne and Riding Mill in the Tyne Valley West but neither was thought to be successful. Possible sites were near Whitfield in the Allen, which went on to produce young the following year, and west of Hexham, in the main Tyne Valley West. From October-December single birds were recorded at 2 sites in Tyne Valley East: Wylam E, Newburn.

More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2008 are available in Table 2.3:

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Allen

2

3

1

0

0

1

1

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

1

2

0

0

1

0

0

Tyne

5

10

2

1

1

3

1

Derwent

2

3

1

0

0

2

1

Total

11

19

4

1

3

6 (2x2, 2x1)

3

Table 2.3: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2008


So very quickly, Red Kite is as common as Goshawk in the study area in terms of numbers but much more successful. There seems little doubt that the Red Kite is being looked after by gamekeepers and it could almost be said that there is enthusiasm for the Red Kite to replace the Goshawk. Whatever, it's a marvellous outcome to the second season of Red Kite breeding in Northumberland; we are up to 4 pairs confirmed breeding and 6 young fledged with success not unexpectedly in the Tyne Valley but also in the Derwent and Allen. It will be very interesting to see what happens in 2009.

More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2009 are available in Table 3:



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Allen

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne

6

9

2

1

3

2

1

Derwent

3

3

0

0

3

0

0

Total

10

13

2

1

7

2 (2x1)

1

Table 3: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2009


After last year's promise the results for the 2009 season are a disappointment with a decline from 11 sites to 10, 19 adults to 13 and 4 confirmed sites to 2. On the plus side the concentration immediately around Wylam appears to have strengthened with 3 sites in the immediate area and a new site near Stocksfield at Apperley Dene was successful. But outliers have dissipated with no birds seen post-spring in the Allen or even in the Bradley Burn at the back of Prudhoe.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2010 are available in Table 4.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

2

3

0

2

0

0

1

Tyne E

1

2

1

0

0

2

0

Derwent

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

4

6

1

2

1

2 (1x2)

1

Table 4: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2010


This year saw a major setback in the Red Kite colonisation of the Tyne Valley. The data above is from my own records with 3 sites occupied in the breeding season at Wylam, Stocksfield Burn and Styford. The Wylam birds bred successfully but evidently nested just over the border into Gateshead: I've counted them still as Northumberland birds because they spend a lot of time hunting here and do not want to indicate that they've disappeared. As published earlier the Stocksfield Burn birds were confirmed as breeding by others but were poisoned before the chick could fledge. The fate of the birds at Styford is unknown but a pair were over the wood there on 10/5. I saw just one bird in the Devil's Water but 2 birds were found poisoned here. A very depressing picture: let us hope that the game interests are sufficiently embarrassed by the incidents to stop using carbofuran and other illegal poisons.


The poisoning incidents are documented in press releases in the Journal and Courant, which confirm that 3 birds found dead in 2010 – 2 at Steel, Hexhamshire; 1 at Hindley, Stocksfield – were poisoned, with the 2nd bird at Hindley almost certainly in the same category. I had hoped that the poisoning could be attributed to misuse of rat poison because that's easier to sort but an exchange at the end of the BirdGuides article (under comments, exchange between NR and Mr Dick, retired RSPB crime investigations officer, screen shot here) shows that the poison involved carbofuran is illegal and is sometimes used by renegade gamekeepers to poison animals such as foxes by lacing a bait with it and throwing the bait in the open near where the animal patrols. It's illegal because of its high toxicity and history of misuse: dogs and children are all highly vulnerable to it. So this was a shock. Red Kite are the most vulnerable to poisoning this way because much of their food is carrion. Honey-buzzard are the least vulnerable because they do not normally eat carrion. Common Buzzard are vulnerable to some extent but fortunately prey mainly on live rabbits and voles. The birds were found on land managed by Allendale Estates. Reports from the Friends of the Red Kites (FoRK) for 2010 are available on BirdGuides, in this N&TBC bulletin extract and on the FoRK web site.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2011 are available in Table 5.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Tyne W

1

2

1

0

0

1

1

Tyne E

3

6

3

0

0

4

0

Derwent

2

3

0

1

1

0

0

Total

6

11

4

1

1

5 (1x2, 3x1)

2

Table 5: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2011


It was a much better season with no recorded or suspected persecution. In the area in Tyne Valley W around Stocksfield adversely affected by poisoning in 2010, a pair settled and bred successfully at Bywell, raising one young. The favoured areas remain those close to the reintroduction areas, that is Derwent and Tyne Valley E. In Derwent in May a single bird was at Blanchland and a pair were circling over Wallish Walls, where other birds were seen by other observers later in the year suggesting probable breeding. In Tyne Valley E pairs were seen S of Wylam, E of Wylam and at Hyons Wood, raising 1, 2 and 1 juveniles respectively. The total number of broods of 4 equals that in the previous best year of 2008 with one fewer young reared than in 2008 of 5.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2012 are available in Table 6.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

1

1

1

0

0

1

Tyne W

3

4

1

1

1

1

Tyne E

3

5

2

1

0

3

Derwent

2

2

1

1

0

1

Total

9

12

5

3

1

6 (1x2, 4x1)

Table 6: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2012


The improvement in 2011 was consolidated with 5 pairs breeding successfully, raising at least 6 young. The number of broods was the best yet. Numbers in the areas adjacent to Gateshead (Tyne E, Derwent) were maintained at a total of 5 occupied sites but there was some expansion westwards with 3 occupied sites in Tyne W (1 in 2011) and 1 in lower South Tyne (none in 2011). Out of the total of 9 occupied sites, 5 were confirmed breeding, 3 probable breeding and 1 possible breeding. The probable breeding may well be really failures due to the poor weather; the possible breeding might refer to a future colonisation. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. It is likely that there is a further pair in the Wallish Walls area in the Derwent Valley; birds were reported here by others. Successful breeding sites were: in Tyne E, S of Wylam and Hyons Wood; in Derwent, Greymare Hill; in Tyne W, Bywell E; in lower South Tyne, Haydon Bridge E. Probable breeding sites were: in Tyne E, Wylam E; in Derwent, Beldon Burn; in Tyne W, Stocksfield E. The possible breeding site was S of Riding Mill in Tyne W.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2013 are available in Table 7.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

2

3

1

0

1

1

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

1

1

0

0

1

0

Tyne W

3

5

1

2

0

2

Tyne E

4

6

2

1

1

2

Derwent

3

4

3

0

0

4

Total

13

19

7

3

3

9 (2x2, 5x1)

Table 7: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2013


All indicators were positive this year with record totals of pairs, broods and young fledged, in anyway the last 2 centuries. Productivity remained low, perhaps because of the late spring, at just over 1 young/successful site with broods of 2x2 and 5x1. Out of the total of 13 occupied sites, 7 were confirmed breeding, 3 probable breeding and 3 possible breeding. The probable breeding may well be really failures due to the poor weather or inexperience of the birds; the possible breeding might refer to a future colonisation. The birds are still concentrated along the boundary with Gateshead. For confirmed/probable sites 3 pairs were in Derwent, on the Northumberland side at Shotleyfell, Wallish Walls and Beldon Burn, 3 in Tyne Valley E, at Wylam Horsley, Bradley Hall and Hyons Wood, 3 in Tyne Valley W at Bywell, Stocksfield E and Corbridge. Outside these areas the only confirmed/probable pair was in the Devil's Water at Dukesfield. The possible breeding sites were widely scattered, comprising Woodhall, between Hexham-Haydon Bridge where breeding has been confirmed before, Dalton, in the Devil's Water, and Callerton Grange, in Tyne Valley E. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. Overall, a little more optimism is justified with consolidation of the population in the east of the study area. There is little sign of the birds moving into the west.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2014 are available in Table 8.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

2

3

1

1

0

1

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

9

14

3

4

2

3

Tyne E

4

8

3

0

1

4

Derwent

3

5

0

2

1

0

Total

18

30

7

7

4

8 (1x2, 6x1)

Table 8: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2014


Another year of steady progress, particularly in the number of occupied sites in Tyne Valley W, rising from 3 in 2013 to 9 in 2014. Numbers fledged were on the surface static but the indifferent weather in August, the only month to have below-average temperatures in 2014 with strong winds from a remnant hurricane, affected fieldwork and inhibited the birds' activity. It is thought for instance that fledging may well have gone undetected at at least 1 of the Derwent sites and at least 1 of the Tyne Valley W sites. So the apparently continued low productivity does need to be qualified. The successful birds were all in a relatively small area bounded by Stocksfield/Bywell to the W (3 broods of 1), Wylam to the E (2 broods of 1) and the Bradley Burn to the S (1 brood of 2). It is likely that many of the birds in Tyne Valley W were inexperienced breeders, which may well do better in 2015. Outside these areas the only confirmed pair was in the Devil's Water in the West Dipton area (1 brood of 1). No birds were seen W of Tyne Meet: it appears that newly prospecting pairs have targeted Tyne Valley W this year. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. Overall, the Red Kite has established an inner core of successful breeding sites in the Wylam-Prudhoe-Stocksfield area and is clearly looking to expand its range further W towards Hexham.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2015 are available in Table 9:



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

2

2

0

2

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

8

11

4

1

2

5

Tyne E

4

5

3

0

1

4

Derwent

5

6

2

2

0

3

Total

19

24

9

5

3

12 (3x2, 6x1)

Table 9: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2015


A year of consolidation, with a reasonably prospering core area but no signs of expansion to the W of Corbridge. The weather in spring was very cool and windy but this did not seem to affect breeding success with a record total of 9 fledged broods, totalling 12 young, with 3 broods of 2 birds, all records for the study area in the current recolonisation. The area in which the birds were found was similar to that in 2014 with 24 adults (30 in 2014) seen at 19 sites (18 in 2014); area-wise the pattern did not change significantly with 2 more sites in Derwent offset somewhat by 1 less site in Tyne Valley W. The successful birds were again mainly in a relatively small area bounded by Stocksfield/Bywell to the W (3 broods of 4), Wylam to the E (1 brood of 1) and the area to the S between the Bradley Burn and the Derwent, east of the Reservoir (4 broods of 6). Further success was noted at Callerton to the NE (1 brood of 1). Outside these areas the only birds found were near the Devil's Water, where birds were seen in the spring at 2 sites. No birds were seen W of Tyne Meet: indeed Riding Mill and Broomleyfell appear to mark the W boundary along the Tyne. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. Overall another year of steady progress in the established core area.


More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2016 are available in Table 10:



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Allen

1

0

1

0

0

2

1

Upper South Tyne

2

2

2

0

0

2

0

Lower South Tyne

(low coverage this year)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

8

13

4

4

0

6

1

Tyne E

8

13

5

3

0

6

0

Derwent

11

15

10

1

0

14

0

Total

30

43

22

8

0

30 (8x2, 14x1)

3

Table 10: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2016


This was the year of the Red Kite in Northumberland. The number of broods more than doubled from 9 to 22 with a similar increase in the young fledged from 12 to 30. There were 8 broods of 2 young and 14 of 1 young, making this easily the most productive since the recolonisation started in 2006. A map of the sites is revealing. The Derwent area on the northern flank of the Gateshead population, and extending across the N side of Derwent Reservoir onto the grouse moors up the Beldon Burn to the watershed at Riddlehamhope, was a major contributor to the success, with 11 sites occupied and 10 of these being successful, with 14 young fledged. 6 sites fledged young on the uplands to the W of Derwent Reservoir. Another stronghold is Tyne Valley E where 8 sites were occupied, around Prudhoe, Wylam and Throckley. These 2 areas form a solid block of colonisation on the N side of Gateshead and County Durham, giving a large contiguous area occupied, an aid to future stability. The Tyne Valley W had the same number of pairs as Tyne Valley E but success was lower with 4 pairs fledging young; the kites in this area like the N slopes of the valley, where they can hang in the prevailing SW breeze; the furthest W where breeding definitely occurred in the main Tyne Valley was Hexham Beaufront but a single 1w kite was N of Hexham Hermitage in October. Hexhamshire, encompassing the Devil's Water, appears to be a sink area with a surprising lack of records; an adult over NR's house in August was the only record here for the whole year. A novel feature was the 3 pairs breeding successfully much more to the W in the upper South Tyne, near Eals, and in the Allen. It is possible that these birds are from the Grizedale reintroduction scheme in the Lake District, rather than from the Gateshead one. The distance from Windermere to Alston is only 58 km; further the Grizedale birds seem to have scattered widely in the absence of a winter feeding scheme.


If we add the 35 localities reported by FoRK to the 30 found in SW Northumberland, it appears that the Red Kite now occupies 65 sites in NE England. There will be some overlap over the county boundaries but if we, say, assume the population to be 60 pairs, that is in line with the expectation quoted in the last FoRK report that there should be 50+ pairs now in the North East on standard population extrapolations developed for the UK. The Red Kite in NE England is not underperforming but the FoRKers are!


The roost census in the lower Derwent Valley by FoRK on 7th January 2017 found 57 birds at 3 sites, the majority at Gibside Red Kites at Roost Survey in the Derwent Valley (FoRK). The previous year's census found 43 so it looks as if some of the increased population in the study area is overwintering in the feeding area. It would certainly be plausible that the birds in the upper Derwent Valley (Beldon Burn, for instance) would simply move to lower altitudes in the Derwent Valley in winter. However, the increase of 14 in the roost count is far below the increase in the Tyne Valley population so the suggestion that this population is migratory still stands.


Multimedia for Red Kite in S Northumberland:


15 April 2014, further glorious weather and great activity in the field!! Made Stocksfield Mount from 11:35-13:35 and it was just like the Chilterns: 8 Red Kite were noted at 5 sites, including 2 pairs up at same time, each in active display -- one NNW of Cottagebank, other NE of Short Wood, a brand new pair at Bywell Castle very visible over most of visit with clips 1  2  3  4  5  6 (birds up separately, one bird is missing a primary on its right wing, Green Woodpecker yaffling at end of clip 4), a single hunting over New Ridley Road and another single soaring high over Ovingham.

9 September 2011, juvenile Red Kite, Hyons Wood (video) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; its right wing is showing some asymmetrical feather damage on outer primaries; plumage is rather dull and tail fairly short.

11 May 2011, adult pair of Red Kite, Wallish Walls (video).

8 May 2011, adult Red Kite, Blanchland (video) with derived stills 1  2  3.

15 March 2010, adult Red Kite in territory at Apperley Dene (video) with derived stills 1  2  3 and pan video of habitat.

7 March 2010, adult Red Kite in territory at Shilford (video) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5.

7 February 2009, adult Red Kite in territory (video) south of the Boathouse Inn, Wylam, at Northumberland's first site, established all of two years ago.

16 August 2008, juvenile (video) for about 5 minutes coming from the top of the hill overlooking Prudhoe (Prudhoe Moor), over Durham Riding (which confusingly is in Northumberland) to Dukeshagg, where it was met by an adult.

10 August 2008, confirmation today of successful breeding for Red Kite in the south west of the county, the first since at least 180 years ago! Near Ninebanks on the West Allen, one juvenile was fledged (video; stills: 1 2 3 4), showing its duller red tones, lack of moult, slightly shorter tail and bolder white markings on its coverts.

20 May 2008, the Red Kite (with tags-- red left wing, green right) seemed to be feeding young at Blanchland.

10 April 2008, a Red Kite was soaring over Letah Wood just a mile from the house.

9 February 2008, a pair of Red Kite at Ninebanks in full display at one point. Wing tags (green right wing, red left wing) were obvious on one bird but not on the other.

24 January 2008, at Wylam had 2 Red Kite around the River Tyne.


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