ARCHIVE   2014 Red Kite Breeding Survey


 2014 chicks H tag

2014 chicks J tag

  Go to Wing Tagging and Ringing page to follow one day's activities by the Monitoring Team 2014

Click   HERE     for a pdf of Training Session 1  held on Monday 10 February 2014.

Click   HERE    for a pdf of Training Session 2  held on Saturday 22 February 2014 .

Kite  Scottish Dude

We are looking for the Red Kite.  More detailed information can be found on the  About Red Kites page.

We have had a tremendous response and now have a strong team beginning this year's Survey.

People from all over the region have responded to this invitation from our Chairman & Kite Officer

It is now ten years since red kites were reintroduced in Gateshead's Lower Derwent Valley and the Friends of Red Kites (FoRK), which is in its fifth year, are planning an intensive survey of breeding red kites in the north east of England in the spring and early summer of 2014. The aim of the survey is to establish the number of breeding pairs of red kites in Durham and Northumberland, including the areas of North & South Tyneside and Cleveland.  FoRK already have a very strong monitoring team but would like to enlist the help of additional volunteers to carry out a more comprehensive survey of what appears to be a delicately balanced population.

Ideally, the survey will involve visiting potential breeding sites at least twice a month from the beginning of February to the end of June; although once evidence of breeding has been confirmed, visits will reduce significantly, and be made from distance, to reduce disturbance.

Where possible, surveyors will be allocated a location close to their home patch.

Survey guidance notes and training, which will include a field visit to a local territory, are given below  for those who may be interested.

Contact Ken Sanderson, mobile  07779 413471, or email for more information and to register your interest.

If you feel you cannot commit to the full survey then please still contact us as any help, however much, will be greatly appreciated.

Ken Sanderson

Chairman & Kite Officer

Up-date: Meeting at Thornley Woodlands Visitor Centre 14 May 2014

First of all a very big thank you to you all for spending the time and effort carrying out the red kite survey, your work is really appreciated. Fifty volunteers have spent over 1100hrs in the "field". Outside of the core area, quite a few have been rewarded with kite sightings, and even a few have confirmed occupied territories and  "nesting", but a significant amount have had very little or no kite activity.
Core area
The core area is defined as being where the majority of pairs of kites are holding territory and where a high percentage of breeding is taking place. It is the corridor of the Derwent Valley running from Hamsterley in the west to Swalwell in the east. Activiy in the core area will be detailed later in the report.

Legal status of the Red Kite

The red kite is afforded the highest degree of legal protection under the Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. 

It is an offence to take, injure or kill a red kite or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb the birds close to their nest during the breeding season. Violation of the law can attract fines up to £5,000 per offence and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.

2014 Red Kite Survey      Guidance notes

The aim of the survey is to establish the number of breeding pairs of red kites in Durham and Northumberland, including the areas of North and South Tyneside and Cleveland.

The survey will take place from early February to the end of May.  Ideally, surveying should take place in the morning, when the kites are most active territorially.

Surveyors will be allocated a plot from an Ordinance Survey map to monitor and it is recommended that at least 2 visits a month are made during this period. Plots may vary in size depending on how much woodland they contain. Ken Sanderson (for Durham) and Ian Kerr (for Northumberland) will study the respective maps for potential breeding woodland to determine the plots to be surveyed.

There may be plots which have no public access. Friends of Red Kites will seek permission to go into these areas.

Survey volunteers will be offered some basic training on surveying techniques. This will take place at the
Thornley Woodland Centre in early February and will include a field visit to look at kites on territory.

Kite in flight 

Image courtesy of Bill Cowlings

What to look for when visiting your plot
Study the ordinance survey map and, if possible, choose high ground locations that overlook suitable woodland habitats. If this is not possible, look for a footpath which skirts the wood. Unless the woodland is very large and has clearings in it e.g. Chopwell Woods, then it should not be necessary to walk through the wood.

Initially you will be looking for the presence of kites "patrolling" above the woodland. Then look for territorial behaviour e.g. aggressive behaviour towards other kites, corvids (crows, rooks) and buzzards with plenty of calling, circling and rising steeply above the woodland, then dropping quickly into the wood, speed chasing with partner, flying in tight circles just above the canopy with exaggerated wing beats when another kite approaches.

Once the territory has been established look for kites carrying nesting material (March). Large twigs will imply that the kites are in the early stage of nest building and kites carrying sheep's wool means that the nest is nearly complete. Here a kite carries a twig towards the River Derwent in Rowlands Gill. 01.03.14

Kite carrying twig

Image courtesy of June Atkinson

Red Kites are a Schedule One Bird of Prey protected by Law.

To minimise disturbance it is important that surveyors do not actively try and locate the nest. This will be done by an experienced Friends of Fed Kites monitoring team member who will be licenced to carry out this activity. 

 Copulation Thunderbird/Flag

 A fairly rare sight.  Thunderbird WT 42 and Flag WT 16 seen near Thornley Woodlands Centre.

Surveyors are asked to send their feedback  to Ken and Ian after every visit, even if no kites are seen, so that the outcomes can be collated regularly and updates can be made to the whole team.

FoRK are also requesting that surveyors record and report other raptors, especially buzzards.

Kite carrying grass.

Image courtesy of Ray Scott

This kite looks as though it is carrying nest-building material, but that is not so; this behaviour is done to declare a territory and warn off other kites looking for a good nest site.

Kite - Buzzard chart

More information on these two Birds of Prey: