A red kite was found dead in Bedfordshire with 10 pieces of lead shot embedded in its body.

The bird of prey was found at Daintry Wood near near Toddington by a member of the public.

X-rays were carried out by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and revealed the 10 pieces of shot.

Red kites are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the RSPB is appealing for information.

RSPB officer Jenny Shelton said it was likely the bird had been hit at close range.

"It is appalling to find yet another shot red kite, and one containing so many pieces of shot. This was clearly no accident, and the bird will most likely have been shot at close range to incur this level of damage.

Jenny Shelton, RSPB.
A red kite. Credit: Press Association Images.

Although a fairly common sight in Bedfordshire now - thanks to one of the world’s most successful reintroduction schemes - in the 1980s red kites were one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds.