REINTRODUCED bird of prey the red kite continued to thrive and breed an estimated 186 offspring in 2015, despite setbacks with storm-damage nests and illegal use of poisoned baits.

Yorkshire Red Kites, which began the project on the Harewood Estate in 1999 to re-establish the once common scavenger in the Yorkshire countryside , says it is highly likely that there are now more than 100 successful breeding pairs of kites in Yorkshire.

The 2015 breeding season was the sixteenth since the reintroduction of red kites to Yorkshire began.

Several pairs were located at new locations, though volunteers were unable to undertake a full survey of all known nesting sites.

Yorkshire Red Kites said: "The overall figures are very encouraging and, allowing for other pairs which have undoubtedly gone undetected, it is highly likely that we now have more than 100 successful breeding pairs in the county."

But the birds, said to be a common sight in the past, swooping down on rubbish tips in towns, still have a lot to contend with.

Two occupied nests were known to have been destroyed in storms in 2015, resulting in the death of the young, says Yorkshire Red Kites, which claims two further nests failed, possibly as a result of disturbance caused by woodland management activity close to the nest and inquisitive trespassers, respectively.

In West Yorkshire, 54 pairs are said to have bred successfully, producing more than 100 young.

On a lighter note, the kites' habit of collecting soft toys to decorate their nests was witnessed at one North Yorkshire nest, below which a stuffed toy rabbit and toy cat were found.

Other collectibles decorating kite nests in the past have included a tea towel, a teddy bear's head, a map showing the location the location of the G-Mex Centre in Manchester, and in 1996 - a World Cup year - even an England flag.

More recently, an East Yorkshire pair had collected an Order of Service for a funeral at the nearby village church.

Yorkshire Red Kites says the illegal use of poisoned baits in the open countryside, aimed at killing pests but at risk of being eaten by other wildlife, continues.

"The deaths of a red kite and a common buzzard caused by carbofuran in different areas of North Yorkshire in 2015 suggest that this banned insecticide is still being widely abused," said the organisation.

An RSPB report showed 36 reported incidents involving birds of prey in North Yorkshire, far exceeding those in any other area.

Details of recommended action if a wildlife offence is suspected can be found online at, along with other information about kites in Yorkshire.

Suspected wildlife or domestic animal poisoning incidents can be reported to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) contact (0800) 321600.