ARCHIVE     Celebrating 5 years of the Friends of Red Kites and 10 years since the red kite was reintroduced  into the north east of England.


 Visit to Rowlands Gill Primary School    Friday 21st November 2014

 This local School has been actively involved with the Red Kite project from the very beginning in 2004.

The children adopted the very first red kite chick to be released,  naming him 01 Speedy, who in  time decided to live up to his name and defected to join the Yorkshire kites where he is still thriving.   Marian Williams, Co-ordinator for the Schools scheme and database gave an up-date on Wing tag 01 Speedy.

Speedy spent much of his first year in the lower Derwent valley and Barlow Burn, taking a trip to Warden Law near Houghton-le-Spring with WT14 and four kites from outside the region in October 2004. Mainly, he was flying over, and roosting in, the Rowlands Gill area. In summer 2005, he was often seen with WT3, visiting the kite pens calling to the young kites awaiting release. He disappeared from Gateshead in late June 2005 and has not been back in the area since. In early February 2006 Speedy was detected in the Chilterns; he was last recorded in this area on 7th June 2006. Recent radio tracking by the South of England Kite Group had not detected Speedy. However, the battery on his transmitter will be losing power therefore he may only be detected by a visual sighting.

WT 001 Speedy

Speedy remains in Yorkshire and has bred with an untagged female. They have successfully raised three chicks that fledged in July 2007. In spring 2008 Speedy and his mate bred successfully for a second consecutive year. They have managed to raise an incredible four chicks, all of which fledged in July 2008. Though there are breeding birds at the nest site used by Speedy and his mate in 2008, it is likely that this couple have returned to use their previous nest site.  Speedy is believed to have continued breeding successfully in Yorkshire raising two chicks each year in 2009,2010 and 2011.


As part of our ON RED KITE WINGS Sage celebrations, and with generous sponsorship of Gateshead Council, the children again delighted us with the wonderful Red Kite Mobiles which decorated the balconies of Hall One and Hall Two at Sage Gateshead for more than a month. 

 Red Kite mobiles

A conclusion to the Workshop directed by Artist Clare Satow, was a Banner.   Our visit was to share in the occasion when Clare Satow was to present the Banner during Morning Assembly.

 RowGill Banner

Clare Satow, left and Head Teacher Hannah Martin, right, hold the Banner.

 RowGill Banner

The Banner design incorporates the Nine Arches Viaduct, a Red Kite and the school name encompassed with individually prepared autumn leaves.

 RowGill Banner

 Report and images:   June Atkinson




 Image courtesy of June Atkinson




 We gathered at Winlaton Mill, where we boarded our coach for the three-hour excursion in Red Kite country.   GoNorthEast generously gave us the coach - we thank them for this support.

Anniversary RK Bus Tour

  Here Harold Dobson, FoRK Secretary, did a running commentary.

Harold commentating 

Sylvia Jones, Events & Presentations,  continued the informative commentary.

Sylvia Jones commentates 

We then stopped at Sherburn Towers Bus Stop, where we saw a single kite flying.

Sherburn Bus Stop viewpoint 

Sherburn Towers Bus Stop 

And there is nothing better than starting children when they are young!

Starting young! 

Images courtesy of June Atkinson

Although we only saw six kites during the trip, people agreed it had been an excellent introduction to the delights of Red Kite Country and said they would visit again independently.



Sage Gateshead, Saturday 5th July

To celebrate our Double Anniversary Year, there was a Day Event at Sage Gateshead.

Click on the link below to listen to one of the concert compositions and view the red kite video!community-videos/c21q8

On Red Kite wings
Flower design mosaic

   Flower Design of Rowlands Gill created this colourful red kite mosaic especially for this Event.

Exhibition is ready volunteers gather 

The Flight of the Red Kite Exhibition  has been set up and volunteers gather to engage with the public.

Sage   L-N- with Kite photo 

 Laila and Noah with the winning entry for the Photography competition.

Mick Render, a FoRK member, from Washington,  took this portrait of one of our Red Kites.


Red Kite mobile 

Images courtesy of June Atkinson

One of 22  mobiles created by Year Six, Rowlands Gill Primary School, directed by Clare Satow .

                      We were honoured in being able to showcase the work of Friends of Red Kites 

 and highlight the impact and importance of the majestic Red Kites in the north east

in the prestigious venue of  Sage Gateshead, recently designated by Emporis

as one of the world's top fifteen music halls.



 Sage Concourse


 Sage Stompers


Audience gathering on the concourse.                              The "Stocksfield Stompers".

                                                                            Images courtesy of Jane Adamson, John O'Rourke

Sage Amble choir

                                                                                                                                  Image courtesy of John Hills


        Trai Anfield, Patron of the Friends of Red Kites, introduces the Royal Northern Sinfonia ensemble. 

                                                                                                         Image courtesy of Jane Adamson, John O'Rourke


 Producer: ON RED KITE WINGS Chris Pentney

Head of Folkworks Programme Sage Gateshead

Friends of Red Kites, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne International Centre for Music Studies, directed by Professor Agustín Fernández, Royal Northern Sinfonia Ensemble under the baton of Mark Edwards and managed by Hannah Reynolds, and Sage staff collaborated for over a year to create this event . Robin Purser, Adult Learning Manager, ensured the practical layout of the Concourse. Harriet Mayhew, Communications Manager, generated excellent publicity for the Event. Chris guided us throughout; FoRK wish to express their appreciation for the sustained effort, understanding and support shown by everyone.

We congratulate Hugo Bell, Ian Fleming and Hannah Hawley on their winning compositions.

A special word of thanks is extended to our Committee and our Volunteers who manned the event.

We thank our Patron, Trai Anfield, for hosting the concerts and for creating the accompanying film.

Finally, our thanks to Anthony Sargent CBE General Director, Sage Gateshead, who saw merit in the proposal to create music which celebrates the return of our majestic Red Kites to our northern skies.



Public Kite Watch   
The morning was bright, although the wind became blustery as the day went on.  Walkers and a few cyclists appeared throughout the day to catch a glimpse of the two red kites tending their young.

Kite Watch 

All eyes on the incoming red kite, with the hope of some good photographs!

 Kite WAtch 2014

 Images courtesy of June Atkinson


Lanchester Valley Walk

On Wednesday 16th April, a group of 22 keen and enthusiastic Health Walkers met at the former Rowley station in County Durham to walk a 7 mile section of the Lanchester Valley Walk, on the course of an old railway line.  The group was led by John and Joanne Davison, who pointed out places of interest along the way, such as Rowley station which is now at the Beamish Museum.

Anniversary Walk  start

After crossing the A68, we set off at a brisk pace then paused to take in the Hownsgill viaduct. For safety reasons it is covered in now but there are still clear views from the centre.  The  path below leads to caves once used for habitation and the wire of the enclosure is not visible.

Hownsgill Viaduct
Anniversary Walk

At the meeting of the ways (Waskerley Way, Derwent Walk, Consett & Sunderland Railway Path and Lanchester Valley Walk), there was a short stop for a group photo in front of an old rail cauldron from the former Consett  Iron and Steel works. There is a long industrial history to this area dating back even earlier than the famous 16th century sword makers.

Anniversary Walk

From this point some walkers stayed at Hownsgill for a refreshment break whist others walked on past the renovated and inhabited former station at Knitsley to the farm shop and cafe.  Along the way the bird song and wild flowers gave welcome signs of spring.

Anniversary Walk
Anniversary Walk
It was fascinating to be told how the Knitsley viaduct, which was a wooden structure, was filled in with coal waste to stop it collapsing and was thus preserved for future generations to use.  Without it walkers would have a few more hills to climb on this path!

Anniversary Walk

This walk gave everyone time to look around and enjoy the views as well as to learn something from John and Joanne about the former railway and the old stations, the last of which for us was at Lanchester.  It was an excellent day out and a fitting way for the Health Walkers to celebrate a 5-year programme of Health Walks run by the Friends of Red Kites. Thank you to all Leaders and Walkers for your continued support.      

Report Jackey Lockwood   Health Walks Co-ordinator

Anniversary Walk
Anniversary Walk end


The Winner of our photographic competition is Mick Render of Washington.  Mick is a long-standing member and a very keen participant in the monitoring of our Red Kites, especially in Causey Gill and Muggleswick Moor.

Mick Render Kite  Photo winner 

An A3 print has been created for Mick by Chromazone, the firm which did all of the photographs for our Flight of the Red Kite Competition and has supported us from the outset. 

 Our Anniversary Red Kite Safari

in the Derwent Valley


 Sunday 16 March 2014

As part of the programme of events planned for 2014 (to mark 10 years since the start of the   re-introduction of red kites to the North East) some Friends of Red Kites led a walk along a section of Gateshead's Derwent Valley.

Anniversary Safari _Jackey Lockwood

 We were fortunate to have a sunny, mild morning.  The route we followed went from Winlaton Mill car park, through part of Derwenthaugh Park to the Butterfly Bridge.  There we crossed the River Derwent and joined the Derwent Walk to walk as far as the Nine Arches viaduct.

Anniversary Safari_Fork archive

 The red kites were proving elusive but everyone enjoyed the fine views of the surrounding countryside.  Singing chiffchaffs indicated that spring is on its way.  On our return we spent time surveying the area from Kite Hill.

Anniversary Safari 2014

 Finally, as we returned around Kite Hill, the group was rewarded with fine views of up to four red kites as they came low over the woodland then soared up on the thermals.  Along the river we then saw dipper and grey wagtail, as well as coltsfoot in flower.  It was a morning enjoyed by everyone who participated.  Thank you to all.

Kites streaming

                                                                                                                                               Report by Jackey Lockwood


Orkwings pdf intro


 Click HERE for a pdf of the On Red Kite Wings story - from seminar to stage. 


Concert Kings Hall

    The first step towards our Celebration  ON RED KITE WINGS at Sage Gateshead Saturday 5 July 2014


The Concert was attended by over one hundred people.  A pdf of the  Project is now available.

Rehearsals were arranged in the Barbour Room at Sage Gateshead for the International Centre for Music students to work with the members of Royal Northern Sinfonia, under the baton of Mark Edwards.

rehearsal with Mark Edwards 

rehearsal RNS Ensemble

Images courtesy of June Atkinson

Tenth Anniversary Roost Watch

 Julia Boreham-Styffe reports:

- a wet and overcast day. But it did improve!     A cheerful group of about 40 met in the car park at Winlaton Mill, clad in  boots and waterproofs, and walked to the viaduct, rewarded by good views of a very handsome pair of Goosander on the lake, and a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher.  After a short time on the viaduct the first Red Kites began to drift into view, and most of us climbed down into the meadow with Ken to watch from the shelter of the scrub area where we could have a better view and were unlikely to disturb the birds. Gradually they came in, gliding and lifting on the breeze, sometimes circling in pairs as if to share the day's news.

W Roost
19 Jan 14 

I counted 20 in the air together - 12 towards Gibside and the rest to the west of the viaduct - but Ken reckoned there were about 41 in all: more kept floating in across the trees as the light faded. We had some excellent views as they dropped below the tree line, and several landed where they were not hidden and could be seen clearly in the 'scope. The final treat was two Kestrel - racing and screeching along the valley bottom - a territorial display, and the winner landed triumphant in full view on the pylon!

Sylvia and David Jones report:
On Saturday January 18th,  forty-two  42 red kite enthusiasts met at Winlaton Mill, on a cold and wet afternoon. Following a brief introduction from Ken Sanderson,  Chairman and Kite Officer, the group walked up to the Nine Arches viaduct, where we were joined by three more members.
There were excellent views of red kites throughout the afternoon. The rain soon stopped and it was not too cold!  Telescopes were set up on the on the viaduct and more than half of the group moved down to the meadow for closer views of the red kites.
The red kites were flying constantly with up to twenty-one birds in the air at the same time. We estimated there were up to forty-one birds coming to the roosts.
When Steve Lockwood was walking home he saw seven red kites perched in a tree near Hollinside Manor and more single birds were flying in that direction to form another roost. This behaviour indicated that these birds were coming in to form a secondary roost.

W Roost
David Jones 

Images courtesy of David Jones

There were many regular members present,  but it was nice to see new faces, some of whom had travelled  from Bishop Auckland and Darlington. The three children in the group were very interested and very knowledgeable about red kites.   Whilst we were on the viaduct, someone spotted a buzzard in a distant tree.   This gave an opportunity to help the children understand the difference between a buzzard and a kite.   Thank you to everyone who helped to make this such a successful event, including those who did several roost watches prior to the public event.

The only positive identification of a red kite from the meadow was Wing Tag 15 Red Philip. We hope he will find a new partner this year.  He was born in the Chilterns and released into the Derwent Valley in  2004 and  his first chick, with Flag, was the first to be born in the north for nearly two hundred  years.  He was named Geordie!     

Wing tagRed Philip

Steve Lockwood reports:

During the red kite roost watch 20 or more people went down onto the meadows below the viaduct to look out for birds near their roost. Although it wasn't a very inspiring afternoon, we had good views of up to 15 red kites at any one time circling near the roosting site. Several birds made closer passes almost overhead and their stunning aerial skills were seen by those watching. Any questions were answered by the Friends of Red Kites team. It was an enjoyable experience for all who were there. 

RoostWatch _Nathan  

Tracy reports:

 It was a very wet day and we did consider staying home all warm and cozy;  surely the red kites would not venture out today.

My 8 year old had been looking forward to the red kite roost all morning. So off we went with wellies and umbrella.  On arrival at the  Nine Arches viaduct we were surprised to see a large group of people,  a much better turn out than last year on what was a glorious sunny afternoon.

Once again we were made to feel most welcome and were invited to make use of the equipment supplied ( binoculars, telescopes) so that we could see the birds close up. The guides were on hand to point out and identify the  various birds we were fortunate to see.

Although the number of kites and other birds we saw was less than the previous year we were not disappointed;  there was an array of kites, buzzards, sparrowhawk, kestrel and some of the group even spotted a kingfisher on the walk up to the viaduct.

It's safe to say we all had an enjoyable  time thanks to Friends of Red Kites for arranging the afternoon and special thanks to June and Harry for sharing their knowledge.

We will see you again,

Tracy, Dave, Nathan and Ryan

Roost Watch Jan 14_Family
Roost Watch Jan 14

Watch January 14 

Images courtesy of June Atkinson

DannyBoy writes on BirdForum:
Well done and thanks to all of the organisers of today's Roost Watch. Even  though the weather was a little dull there was a really good turn out and  everyone I spoke to seemed to really enjoy it. The Kites put on a good  display and hopefully the event will make more people appreciate those  beautiful birds and hopefully it would have inspired more people to become Friends of Red Kites.

RoostWatch 18 January 2014


Click on this link to enjoy John's video clip of our red kites gathering in the Derwent Country Park.  

Here is a recording of our red kites,

created by and kindly agreed for our use by Dr. Simon Elliot .