More than 30 people turned out and enjoyed the latest annual Kite watch organised for members of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

The event, the fourth of its kind, was led by Tim, Ian and Anna of FoRK's Thursday monitoring team. It provided around 25 kites in view from Nine Arches viaduct on January 22, a day which had been dull and grey until the skies cleared and the sun broke through just as the party arrived and settled to wait.

Because of the bright, dry and sunny conditions, the kites were a little late in appearing, no doubt taking advantage of the weather to get in an extra half hour or so of foraging or simply aerial socialising. Eventually, several showed well, soaring directly above the viaduct as dusk fell. Others perched in groups in the skyline trees and were viewed by the party through telescopes.

The team were able to pass on much information about the kites and their progress to many of the party who were first-time visitors to the event, some who had little previous knowledge of the species.

Other species seen by the party included a splendid pair of Goosanders diving and feeding on the Clock Pond, Buzzard flying and calling across the river, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Dipper.

The Thursday team were delighted with the big turnout and have already undertaken to repeat the event for a fifth year in early 2018.

Ian Kerr



Annual General Meeting 2016

Lintzford Garden Centre, Rowlands Gill, hosted our 7th Annual General Meeting on the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 2016.


33 members attended and, as the Reports, last year's Minutes, etc had been emailed to all members well in advance, we managed to get through the formal part of the meeting with the election of Officers, including our new Treasurer, Hilary Johnson, and Committee Members in 20 minutes (a record !).


This gave plenty of time to receive a verbal report on this year's breeding season and have a lovely meal served by the Lintzford staff.

All in all, an enjoyable evening was had by all.



Tanfield Railway Gala Event (Sylvia Jones)

On June 11th and 12th we reinforced our partnership with Tanfield Railway and Go North East at the Tanfield Railway Gala Weekend. Fourteen FoRK volunteers enjoyed conversations with railway enthusiasts; many of whom had travelled a long way including Belgium, Somerset, Dundee and the M40 corridor at High Whickham. We exchanged some interesting red kite stories.

It was cool and wet but many found time for a 'selfie' with the red kite bus board which is always popular.


Geoff brought the red kite bus on Sunday.


Two special steam engines were there to celebrate the weekend: one having recently returned from America.




Thank you to Tanfield Railway, Go North East and our loyal volunteers who supported us through the weekend.

Our next event is the Gibside Red Kite Family Fun day on Sunday July 24th. As last year, the Go North East entertainments team will be joining us for this event. Please come to join us for a fascinating day. Face painting and varied games will entertain the children. The bubbleologist is amazing to see. You will be able to chat to us for up to date information about the red kites and, hopefully, you will see the kites flying over Gibside. There will be a tombola to raise funds for Friends of Red Kites. A special thank you to everyone who is able to help on the day.

If you have any ideas for events, or wish to join our team, please contact me: mobile: 07974810364 or


Members' night Report

On Wednesday February 24th 63 Friends of Red Kites members  attended our Spring meeting at the Red Kite pub.Louise and her staff served a very good meal.Ken gave us updates about the red kites and gave out 'sightings sheets' so we can collect information about the kites.Sylvia provided details about future events.Ken had also provided a 'sit com' picture quiz to be completed during the meal.Fiona collected £85 from the sale of raffle tickets.Thankyou to members who contributed raffle prizes and all those who bought tickets.This is a useful source of income for us.



Ken then introduced Colin Heath,the wildlife crime officer for Northumbria police.Colin is a very experienced and dedicated police officer who obviously loves his job.His power point presentation gave us a huge amount of useful information.There are many wildlife laws which can affect us in our monitoring of red kites.His information covered all wildlife and some of it was very shocking but it provided facts we need to be aware of.


Harold provided a vote of thanks and we all agreed it was an enjoyable and informative evening. 

If anyone wishes to help out with future events please contact any member of the committee.




An impressive crowd of 33 turned out for another highly successful Kite Watch event staged on January 24 for members of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

Tim, Ian and Anna from FoRK's Thursday monitoring team guided the annual event, the fourth they have staged for the region's oldest conservation body.

The weather, in contrast to some freezing previous events, was very kind with dry conditions and the temperature a very unseasonable 14C. There was a light to moderate south westerly wind.

The kites co-operated with two appearing almost immediately the party had gathered on the Nine Arches Viaduct. Between then and dusk, kites were generally present in small numbers before rising to a total of 16 in view over the main roost area.

Although light conditions were generally poor because of overcast skies, most of those attending managed to get good view of the birds and to pick out colours as they banked and swirled. The kites were obviously enjoying the windy conditions and were in no hurry to drop into the roost.

Unfortunately, none of them came in to perch on the usual pylons or nearby trees so the scopes set up by the leaders proved superfluous. However, some of those who attended had not seen the kites previously so were nevertheless delighted with the experience.




Friends Of Red Kites

Roost Watch - 6th December 2015



On Sunday 6th December eleven people gathered at the Nine Arches Viaduct on Gateshead's Derwent Walk in the late afternoon, and, with a break in the weather giving calmer conditions, they were anticipating seeing a spectacular display of red kites coming into roost. They were not disappointed. Thirty one kites were counted in the air together at one point and there were good views through the telescope of seven kites perched together on a pylon at pre roost. One of the birds on the pylon was identified as wing tag K5, a juvenile kite fledged from a nest close by in the wood below Hollinside Manor last summer.

The number of observers increased rapidly as passing walkers were drawn in to watch red kites soaring and drifting in the skies above the viaduct with "Friends volunteers" on hand to answer the many questions that were asked. In total thirty nine kites eventually dropped into the West Wood on the Gibside Estate to roost with the last bird going in at 4.05pm.

The roost has been building steadily since the beginning of November when circa twenty birds gathered and by the end of the month a count of fifty two kites had been made with forty two birds seen together in the air at one time on that occasion.

There is an established second roost higher up the valley at Victoria Garesfield. On the same evening as the above event twelve kites were observed dropping into the edge of Chopwell Woods at this location. In all twenty kites were noted there but six of these drifted down towards Lintzford. They could have been making their way to the main roost but there is a possibility that these birds were roosting at Strothers Wood.


Red Kite Family Fun Day - Sunday October 18th 2015 Gibside Estate

This event was a joint venture between Gibside, Go North East, and Friends of Red Kites.



Gibside's Market Place was bustling with 500 runners when we arrived, all running the 7 mile Blackill Bounders Fruit Bowl Race. Many of them staying after the race intrigued by what we were doing.

Gibside staff had prepared gazebos where Judy, Sue, Pam, Fiona and Jon set up a very impressive tombola stall. There were dozens of donated prizes and this was a very popular addition to the event.




 Geoff the Go North East Driver positioned the 'new edition' red kite bus adjacent to the stalls and this attracted a great deal of interest and attention.



As a very experienced Go North East bus driver he was very lucky to win two Go North East pens and notepads with the tombola tickets he bought.

An entertainments team was provided by Go North East. The star was Jesse- a bubblologist who was a great hit with the children. Her prolific supply of bubbles both large, beautiful and exciting attracted a huge audience of all ages.




Carma provided exciting and decorative face painting designs shown here by two very enthusiastic brothers





The children could then be photographed in and outside of the red kite bus as Ellie shows here


and also the bus selfie frame as demonstrated by Madeline and Charlotte two of our young visitors


Matt ,Holly and Jenna organised the music and garden games. 

Friends of Red Kite volunteers - Sylvia, David. Allan, Marian, Harold, Fiona, Jon, Paul and Lorraine - were available to give updated information about the status of Red Kites in the North East including breeding information, events and membership, and the ever present persecution problem.

 Allan one of our volunteers at the Information Stand


FoRK calendars and greeting cards were available.

This event was a huge success in promoting red kites and community involvement and cooperation between the three partners in an entertaining and informative way. The tombola raised £170 for FoRK. Well done to Fiona and Jon who organised this.



A further £35 was raised with the sale of the 2016 FoRK Calendar. Thank you to everyone who gave their time to make it such a successful and enjoyable day



Annual General Meeting - June 24th 2015 

35 members met at Lintzford garden centre for our AGM.A red kite bus was there as part of our partnership to emphasise the strong link between Go North East and Friends of Red Kites.

At a concise AGM reports were given about our very active year. Officers and committee members were re elected. June Atkinson and David Jones have left the committee and thanks to both members were recorded. The committee are keen to hear from any members who wish to join their ranks.

Lintzford staff served us an excellent meal of main course and 'very messy to eat' cream cakes. Tea and coffee were also served. Lintzford also offered 10% reduction on any items bought on the evening. The raffle was drawn with weekly bus passes and a variety of other prizes donated by friends. We are grateful to the generosity of all who donated. The raffle was combined with the Tanfield Railway event. Sylvia has contacted the Tanfield winners.

We thanked Diane and her staff for looking after us so well and the evening ended at 9.00 p.m.


Tanfield Gala Weekend

We had a very successful two day event at Tanfield Railway gala weekend on June 21st and 22nd.Two special engines -Mec Navvies 1940 and A5 1883 attracted a huge knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience to the event.

16 FoRK volunteers shared the rota and talked to visitors from many parts of the country. Some of which are pictured below



The raffle,card sales and memberships helped to make this a successful fund raising event for us.A red kite bus and driver joined us on Sunday



We had great fun taking photos with the selfie board both children and adults alike










Thank you to everyone who helped us to enjoy being part of such a successful event.




 The 41 Club, Barnard Castle

Twenty-four members enjoyed a talk by Judy Summerson on Monday 17th November 2014. They are also keen to see a healthy population of red kites in Teesdale.

Weardale Wildlife Group, Stanhope.

Thirty-five members enjoyed a talk and a very lively discussion about red kites on Tuesday 11th November 2014. The Group are passionate about the red kites and are keen to see a healthy population of birds in Weardale. The talk was given by Judy Summerson


Thirty of the members then joined the Friends again on Sunday to observe the pre-roost from the viaduct.

 Weardal group on viaduct

 Images:   Judy Summerson

Unfortunately the fog descended and the kites were difficult to see.  However, some kites were seen and the event was enjoyed by everyone.

 Roost Watch - November 8th 2014

We had a damp start as we gathered at Winlaton Mill.  In spite of the weather 27 adults,one child,and one dog assembled at the Nine Arches Viaduct at 3.00 p.m.The rain soon eased and it was not as cold as in previous years.

8 Nov 14 Roost Watch

Image:  David Jones 

Red kites drifted in from many different directions.As the numbers of birds increased we saw more birds flying together and they provided some excellent views.  At one stage we had the pleasure of seeing 20 kites flying together.

Roost 27 November 14
This photograph, taken by our member, Mick Render, shows red kites gathering to roost.

Ken gave an update about the current roost situation. Mick and Paul were able to confirm sightings they had made.  We estimated that between 40 and 45 kites had joined the roost and made our journey very worthwhile.  We all felt the uplifting experience generated by red kites flying together.  As we wandered back to Winlaton Mill at dusk, we agreed that we had enjoyed and shared a memorable afternoon.  

Roost Watch group 8 Nov 14 HD
   Image: Harold Dobson
Roost - red kites

  Image:  Gerry Whitlow

 Highlights_Keith Newman

I spent an hour this afternoon with Keith Newman, who kindly recorded a message about our Roost Watch.  Keith now runs his PR company from his boat Highlights which is currently moored in St. Peter's Marina. She is a lovely little craft and ideal as Keith's floating office!  e are very grateful for Keith's continued support and interest. 

Image and report:   June Atkinson

 Rena Holford

 Rena and Paul Holford welcome you to Hagg HilFarmhouse Tea Room and Glass Gallery

Thursday - Sunday  11am until 4pm

Spa Well Road  Winlaton Mill  Blaydon  NE21 6RS

Free parking    Cosy log fire and dog friendly.

Rena is one of our members.  Enjoy more of her work on her website. 



                                                                Roosting Red Kites

Following an excellent breeding season for the kites when a record number of thirty-five chicks fledged, our monitoring team's focus has now switched to checking birds at roost. Red kites form a communal roost in the autumn, initially made up of failed breeders and juvenile birds. The best place to view this spectacular event is from the Nine Arches Viaduct in the Derwent Country Park, Gateshead.

Roosting kites were first noted on September 22nd when 11 kites flew into the Paddock Hill wood. Numbers are starting to build now and at least 32 came into roost on Sunday 19th October which is 30% more than this time last year.

Several of this year's fledged chicks have already been recorded at the roost.

Numbers will continue to increase as we move deeper into winter and mature kites leave their territories during the colder months to join the roost.

Ken Sanderson

Kite officer

 People on the Nine Arches viaduct scan the valley for signs of red kites coming in to roost for the night.

Nathan and Ryan - telescope 

Image courtesy of June Atkinson

It's never too early to start!  Nathan and Ryan takes turns  using the telescope, aided by Harold Dobson.

 Scooter Safari

A group of us set off from Swalwell Visitor Centre for a Scooter Safari in the Derwent Valley.  The weather forecast was for heavy showers, and the temperatures were rather cool but that did not dampen the enthusiasm.

Scooter safari Group 

The Friends of Red Kites led the Scoot from Swalwell up on to the Derwent Walk, once a busy railway line but now a popular walking and cycling route. 

 Scooter safari

The leaves on the trees were just showing shades of green, and the woodland floor had a variety of wild flowers.  We had clear views over the Derwent Valley and of a soaring red kite overhead.

 Scooter safari


Facts on safari 

Once we reached the Nine Arches Viaduct we turned off the Derwent Walk, passed the "Stone Garden" and in to the Derwenthaugh Park.

Scooter safari

 The valley seemed to be full of bird song. A buzzard put in an appearance soaring overhead.

At Clockburn Lake we were able to watch a heron patiently stalking for food. 

Scooter safari 

A swan was uncharacteristically friendly and stayed with the group for quite a while. 


 The new Butterfly Bridge is impressive, and many commented on how well maintained the Park and Walk are.  By the weir at Damhead we had a chance to observe the nearly-completed fish pass which is quite a structure.


Weir_Salmon ladder 

 We watched a dipper on the River Derwent unperturbed by all the activity. 

Dipper on Derwent 

The promised showers arrived just before we got back to Swalwell but the rain did not spoil what had been a very enjoyable morning.   Although the weather reduced the number of participants, those who came with us were amazed at what they saw. The company of FoRK volunteers was greatly appreciated and made the experience different to anything they had done before.They stopped frequently to enjoy the views and the wildlife.They wanted another 'scoot' as soon as possible and promised to bring their friends.  We all gained a great deal from this unique experience.

Report: Jackey Lockwood, images:David Jones

Thank you to all who participated in this first co-operative venture between Friends of Red Kites and Gateshead Shopmobility.     Let's hope we have a chance to repeat the event in the future.


Image courtesy of June Atkinson  

Gateshead Shopmobility - helps you enjoy the Derwent Country Park

Red Kite in flight


 Would you like to see the kites, but can't walk the distance?   Become a member of Gateshead Shopmobility and then you can book a mobility scooter, collecting and returning it to Swalwell Visitor Centre by the required time.  This is usually between 10a.m. and 3p.m.

A FoRK member by Clockburn Lake, Derwent Country Park 

Annual Membership is £5 and the hire charge for a full day is £4.00.     2 Scooters are kept at the Derwent Walk Country Park.  This is one way to get mobile and keep up with the kites!

Mobility scooters

 images June Atkinson

    Guide to using your scooter in the Derwent Country Park.


Contact 0191 4779888      or

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