Wing tagging and ringing




Wing tag colours for red kites in the north east of England


         2004                                        2005                                     2006                                       2007

Left             Right                     Left             Right                   Left            Right                   Left            Right




















          2008                                        2009                                      2010                                      2011

















           2012                                        2013                                     2014                                       2015



















             2016                                                   2017                       2018. No tagging in the north east








The left wing tag denotes the region: Pink for the north east of England 

The right wing tag denotes the year of fledging 

Left wing tag colours for other UK regions and Northern Ireland

Chilterns ……………….…. Yellow**;   East Midlands…………White;   

Yorkshire……………………Orange;    Central Wales … .….…Black;       

Mid Scotland ………......…..Red;          North Scotland …....… Blue;

Dumfries & Galloway ..Green;       Aberdeen ………….      .….Purple; 

Cumbria (Grizedale Forest …….Orange

Northern Ireland ……..Chocolate Brown.

 ** includes Southern Counties


Ringing and Wing Tagging 2016

The first confirmed successful nesting of Red Kites in Northumberland since a pair was poisoned in 2010 was a highlight of another otherwise disappointing season for this iconic species.
In early spring, pairs or single birds were holding around 35 potential nesting territories across the

Of these, around 14 pairs went on to produce eggs. Nine were successful fledging 18young while at least five nests failed. Three of the successful nests were in County Durham,fledging 8 young, and five were in Gateshead's Derwent Valley.

Pairs may have also been successful at other localities which could not be fully checked during the season so the figures for successful sites given above must be regarded as the absolute minimum. 
Some nests failed because of natural predation and others probably from disturbance which will
always be a problem because kites often chose to nest close to homes or in local woodland used
for recreation.


 Three Kites being tagged and ringed

At the closely monitored nest sites, 13 chicks were ringed and tagged. Two others were ringed but wings were not well enough developed for tagging. At another site the young were judged too

large to safely handle.
The Northumberland success was the first for the county since the pair which was a big attraction for visitors to the former wild cattle centre at Whittonstall perished during the breeding season in 2010.


Chick waiting patiently to be checked over 

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.


Concern has continued about the failure of our kites to spread from their core area in the Derwent
Valley and the immediate surrounding areas. There have been 213 known fledged kites since the
project began. If the region had followed the trend of other re-introductions we should now have
over 50 breeding pairs annually.


 A healthy Chick waiting to be returned to it's nest

Ten kites have so far been found illegally poisoned in the region and one shot so persecution

remains a problem and probably an inhibiting fact to expansion.
Another worrying factor is that the number of kites using the main roosting areas in the Derwent
Valley showed a decline last winter. Comments have also been made that people living in areas
where kites were an everyday sight are now seeing fewer of them. This has been apparent even in the core area.


This winter FoRK is planning major efforts to monitor existing roosts site and to discover any
additional areas being used. Next spring an appeal will be made to the public to come forward
with any evidence they have of kites frequenting areas where breeding has so far not been
Ian Kerr and Ken Sanderson


    Ringing and Wing Tagging 2015

Ringing and wing-tagging was carried out on Wednesday 10th and Friday 12th June. 

Only seven nests were available to ring and wing tag chicks, . Of the nineteen known nests which got to the incubation stage, nine subsequently failed and the three remaining were either difficult climbs or the resident did not want the chicks tagged.

The high failure rate, nearly 50% of nests that got to the incubation stage could have been caused by a combination of bad weather, predation and human disturbance. Gale-force winds in the middle of May were responsible for blowing out two chicks and a brooding female from the nest at Bradley Hall. The two chicks didn't survive but the female was returned back into the wild after rehab for an injured eye.

Only six nestlings were wing-tagged with a further six were ringed as well. Those chicks that were ringed only were either too small or too big to wing tag. Laying dates must have varied quite a bit this spring for there to be such an age spread in the chicks.

One nest had a brood of four chicks, yes four chicks, which is our biggest brood ever - amazing. Only one of the brood was ringed and tagged. The other three were ringed only. You will see from the attached photo the size/age difference between the chicks.



Two chicks waiting patiently to be tagged


One of the nests with 3 chicks 



One of the nests had two chicks but these were deemed to small to wing tag so they were ringed only 



A few pictures of tagged kites. The pictures show how quickly they grow. Although called chicks they are getting to full adult size




Ringing and wing tagging 2014

The team carrying out the procedures found  that some chicks were further ahead than was apparent, and were too big to be disturbed. 

In one nest with triplets, the youngest chick was considered too small to undergo the tagging and was ringed only. 

Derwentcote chicks

Image courtesy of Ken Sanderson

First of all, the licensed group must locate the nests, then the accredited Tree Climbers scale the tree,

Gellesfield Copse


carefully pick up a single chick of the right age, put it in a white bag and lower it to the ground to be collected by one of the Team.

Once on the ground, the work of fitting leg rings, with a unique number for each chick, and the two wing tags is begun by licensed Team members, working swiftly in order to avoid any distress to the birds. Notice that the chicks' heads are covered to keep them calm, and records, including the weight , are kept of each kite. Here Ken Sanderson, Chairman of FoRK, Ian Kerr and Keith Bowey, who was the Leader of the very successful Northern Kites Project, are busy carrying out the procedures.

Ken Sanderson, Keith Bowey

Here H5 tag is ready for use.    The left tag is pink for northern kites, with the orange  band for 2014.

Wing tag fitted 


Wing tag fitted


 Comprehensive details of each chick are recorded for data purposes.   FoRK accepts a degree of accountability in maintaining the records begun by the Northern Kite Project. Chick is weighed.

Weighing chick

Once the wing tags and rings are fitted, the chick is given a final check,  before being popped gently into a blue bag, ready to be taken back up to the nest by one of the Tree Climbers.    . 

chick into blue bag

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