PEOPLE feeding Red Kites could be behind the birds attacking walkers and picnickers, according to a wildlife trust.

Another warning has been made for people to avoid feeding the birds of prey after a number of incidents where people have been hurt or narrowly avoided it.

Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust ecology officer Colin Williams told BBC Oxford: "Problems with the Red Kites are where they become quite tame, where people have fed them.

"They're opportunist birds so if they do have the opportunity they will take scraps. They're not attacking people they are just trying to find food."

It comes after a series of incidents, including in Marlow, where two toddlers were enjoying lunch in Higginson Park last year when a red kite dived at the children and tried to steal their sandwiches.

More recently, several visitors to south Oxfordshire Watlington Hill and the surrounding countryside have reported being injured by the birds, which were reintroduced to the area in 1989.

A further warning on the National Trust website states people are free to see, photograph or video the Red Kites but are asked not to offer them ‘any sort of food’.

It explain the birds can survive in the Chilterns without ‘artificial feeding’ as there is plenty of natural food and it is ‘not necessary to supplement their natural diet’.

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The trust goes on to explain: “It is possible that putting out food could ultimately lead to an unsustainably high population of red kites, reliant on human hand-outs.

"The birds cannot differentiate between food that is deliberately put out for them and visitors’ picnics.

“The National Trust, the BTO, the RSPB and the Chilterns Conservation Board all urge the public not to feed red kites.

Parish councillor for Watlington, Roger Beattie, said he had heard of many cases of the creatures targeting those with food.

He said: "People say they can't hurt you but that just isn't true. They are big birds with sharp claws and a wingspan of around six feet.

"A couple of years ago I was with friends for a birthday tea at Watlington Hill and my friend has his head quite badly scratched by one who took his sandwich."

Ranger Matthew Bond echoed this, saying: “Please do not put food out for these birds.

"This encourages them to steal food from picnics and even people’s hands!”