People are being warned not to feed red kites after two toddlers were left with cuts when a bird swooped in and tried to snatch their sandwiches at a park in Marlow.

Giulia and Luca Viarnaud, aged five and three respectively, were enjoying their lunch in Higginson Park with mum Emily when the bird of prey dived at the children and tried to steal their sandwiches.

It went to Giulia first and, when it was unsuccessful, pounced on Luca’s lunch, managing to take it away.

Emily said her daughter was left with a scratch to her head as a result and she is now worried about letting her children play outside, especially with food.

She said: “We were just sitting in the park on a bench by the Steve Redgrave statue and we got sandwiches out.

“A few seconds later and it swooped down and went for my daughter’s sandwich. It didn’t get that and it then went for my son’s.

“My daughter was quite scared and was more upset about it.

“We went inside and they didn’t want to go back outside again.

“I have literally never heard of this happening before.”

An RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) spokesman, Rupert Masefield, warned people against feeding the bird of prey in their gardens and in public places so the “amazing birds don’t associate people with food”.

He said: “Birds of prey tend to avoid humans as a rule and reports of incidents like this one are, happily, extremely rare.

“These days red kites are a wonderful sight soaring above the countryside, particularly in the Chilterns where their reintroduction has been such a great success.

“This is an example of what active conservation can achieve – a beautiful bird that was on the verge of extinction in the UK as little as 150 years ago now colonising much of its former range across the UK.

“Red kites are primarily scavengers and travel far and wide in search of food.

“They rarely have any problem finding dead animals and other things to eat, so there really is no need for people to be putting out food for them.”

Emily told the Marlow Free Press that the family went for a picnic a few days after the incident and her daughter was worried about it happening again.

She said: “I wouldn’t want to leave them outside, even in our garden at home, with food.

“We often have swarms of them [Red Kites] outside in the afternoon. I wasn’t really worried about it before but I am now.

“I just want more people to be aware that this can happen.”