Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Raptor persecution in the UK past and PRESENT! Sign the e-petition!

As the year draws to an end including another breeding season for British birds of prey we can look back and reflect on not just breeding successes and failures but also the persecution that birds of prey have had to face.

527 crimes relating to birds of prey were reported relating to birds of prey in 2010 which is actually down on previous years but the sad fact still stares us in the face that it is still taking place! I'm sure you will also be aware more will have gone undetected or not reported, but what are the main causes of persecution.

The RSPB bird crime report 2010 shows a variety of case studies and areas of persecution reported to them but the two main areas of persecutin from the 527 reported were Shooting and destruction of birds of prey 227 reported cases and poisoning and use of poisoned bait 128 cases reported. Details of such activities can be found in the report but even if the arguement that these cases are not proven surely something is going on if so many have been reported. They can't all be mistakes can they?

The gamekeeper and shoot managers get the brunt of these cases and most of you who follow this topic will have read various articles between the two interested parties, those for birds of prey and those for the shooting fraternity usually always of the same substance but sadly breeding figures aswell as persecution evidence shows birds of prey just don't thrive on shooting estates. The sensitive subject lies with who takes the blame when such crimes are brought against the shooting estates where the majority of raptor persecution seems to be taking place in the UK. My opinion and various other's is that it should fall not just with the person(s) in question but the landowner in the form of vicarious liability. This is soon to be introduced in Scotland and surely it will make landowners take an interest in whats happening on their land.

A petition has been started to bring the subject of vicarious liability to the House of Common's for England, surely for the sake of British birds of prey it is something that should be at least discussed if we are to try and change the victorian image some people have of birds of prey in the UK. Who are we to say what can and can't live and survive on this island?

To make a stand against bird of prey persecution take five minutes to sign the petition below

To read the full RSPB Birdcrime 2010 click here

Birds of prey in the news!

There have been plenty of birds of prey stories popping up in the UK news you can check some of them out below by following the links.

A Honey Buzzard who caught a plane home -

RSPB's crackdown on pesticides -

Red Kite and Raven poisoned -

Poisoned bait found on Scottish estate -

RSPB launches its Skydancers project -

Red Kites increase in Scotland -

Further Raptor Persecution in UK -

Another dead Peregrine -

Peregrines vanish from grouse moors -

 Eagle rescue -

All of the above is to be read and digested as you please I obviously have my own personal opinions, but one article I have come across which I do think is a load of tripe is below!

Where has November gone?

I have kept meaning to write a new post then I have been dragged off to another job or work. Well I have plenty for you to read about and a VERY important e-petition coming up straight after this entry PLEASE take the time to read and sign. But before then I have got plenty for you to have a look at below!

I have a few papers and a new interview which have dropped into my inbox over the last month all of which you can find links to below.

Firstly a new interview on the African Raptors website by Andrew Jenkins one of SA leading raptor biologists explaining his extensive work on the Taita Falcon in Africa.

Staying with falcons I also received a copy of a publication based on Eleonoras Falcon wintering in Madagascar, this study was carried out by satellitte tagging a few falcons. The publicaton is below

Satellitte tagging birds of prey for research purposes is something that has become more and more popular opening up a whole new means of understanding things like migration but how many people have asked what effects this might have on the birds. Below is an article based on the effects have on Red Kites in England.

If vultures are your thing there has been a recent publication on Two species of Iberian Vultures by studying Integrating effects of supplementary feeding, poisoning, pollutant ingestion and wind farms of two vulture species in Spain using a population viability analysis

One of the more unusual papers I have posted on here is the one below regarding a Crested Eagle feeding a Post fledged Harpy Eagle in Panama, if anyone else has ever come across this in other species why not get in touch

The IUCN has recently released new figures for the Red List of threatened species, I am currently in the process of developing several world maps highlighting raptor species but before then take a look at ARKives press release

If like me you think it is vitally important we connect kids with the natural world then check out this fantastic game ARKive have developed to educate children about some of the worlds most endangered animals I will also be adding this to my links page in the kids section!

Dont forget to keep an eye on the monthly raptor profile page on the right hand tool bar as I will be adding a new species for November, supported by ARKive!

If there are any budding raptor biologists out there or even some current field biologists reading this why not take a look below at whats going on.
If you fancy a far flung trip away adding to your field work CV why not take a trip to the Baikal Reserve and volunteer on the reserve as an ornithologist for the resurrection of one of their trapping/ringing sites

GREFA is a NGO from Spain and they are currently looking for a biologist or veterinarian willing to develop a research project in their facilities, mainly involving captive breeding techniques (incubation, captive brehavior, etc.). No contact details were supplied.

Do you know of a field biologist who is carrying out fantastic work in the field then maybe they are worth some recognition?
Natural Research is pleased to announce that it is opening the application process for the 2012 Mike Madders Field Research Award.  The Award aims to support high quality field based ecological work, and was established in memory of Dr Mike Madders, a founding Director of Natural Research. 
 For more information on the Award and details of how to apply, please visit our web page

The BTO annual conference is coming up next month in the UK on Dec 2nd/4th more information can be found at

Closer to home in the UK raptor persecution is still the hot topic and there have been several articles and comments posted on the subject through various websites including but I will be covering some of this in more detail in my next post.

I have recently tiddied up my bird of prey links page hopefully making it easier to use and find the website of your interest, two websites I will be adding tonight are below. As always if you have a website that is of interest please don't hesitate to let me know!

I'm going to follow this entry up with one covering birds of prey in the news and then another on persecution as there is just too much to fit into one blogging page!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Plenty to read!

I went for a walk the other day and saw three species of bird of prey in one field, a Peregrine appeared over me only to be chased off by one of the resident Kestrels which was closely followed by some sky dancing Buzzards. Well worth the walk out! I have also seen plenty of Sparrowhawks recently in built up areas, each week I travel to the outskirts of Manchester and each week I manage to catch a glimpse of a Spar soaring above one of the many large gardens. They are obviously adapting to population expansion better than other species.

I have come across some new tracking sites for birds of prey, I say new they are to me and sadly one of them is now no longer running but I thought someone may find it interesting for reference and research they include four species and I will be putting them on the website links page.

I will also be adding some websites to the links page that I have recently come across one of which I thought was already there as I regularly follow its news page.

There is a new piece on the European Raptor website about the scientific study for the Hen Harrier Framework here in the UK.

If you manage to read the Hen Harrier framework and the 90 pages aren't enough for you why not take a look at this scientific paper based on the whereabouts of non-breeding populations of Short Toed Eagles.

Also in the UK the BBC Autumnwatch series is well underway and if you caught the first episode you will have seen Roy Dennis an Osprey expert following the progress of three Welsh Osprey chicks. The chicks were fitted with GPS tracking devices and the show is now following there progress each week, catch the other episodes below.

Also in the UK the RSPB have recently advertised 3 job vacancies relating to the safeguarding of certain species of birds of prey on managed land. The species in question is the Hen Harrier which as you might know is now one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK.

Or if you love Ospreys try

On a sadder note you may remember the story on this blog about Hagpa the young Philippine Eagle who was caught by a farmer but rescued by the Philippine Eagle Foundation. The bird was eventually released and thought to be observed interacting with the parent birds which was fantastic news. Sadly this story hasn't ended this well and a Philippine Eagle was found dead thought to be shot and also thought to be Hagpa.

Also in the news relating to raptor persecution, the raptor persecution Scotland blog brings more stories ranging from further raptor deaths in the South West of England, shooting estate activities and policing matters, you can also find out more on the Raptor Politics site.

On a lighter note to end the latest blog why not take a look at this website created by artists trying to put there artwork to good use by raising awareness about conservation issues. One current project is based on the Philippine Eagle and the art work is truly stunning!

Many thanks for your time and don't forget to have a good look through all the pages, I plan on tidying and updating the book page next.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Great News!

I have to admit as much as I enjoy compiling the blog and researching for it its hard work fitting it in with everything else I have going on in life. That means a couple of weeks might go past without a post and also things I would like to start take a bit longer. One of those things I started and didn't finish is the bird of prey profile page on the right hand side of the blog main page, the aim was to create a page that is changed every month with a new species of bird of prey and a fact file. This would have taken a lot of time and effort, then I had a fantastic idea and sent an e-mail.

Some of you may have come across on the internet and the fantastic resource of facts, images and videos covering a whole host of wildlife, this includes a variety of birds of prey. I decided to contact the team at ARKive to find out if I could create a link between this blog and the ARKive site to help with the blogs BOP profile page, they got back in touch saying they would love to join forces and spread the word about birds of prey.

They also informed me that the top viewed video on the site is one of an Osprey which went global and has had over 700,000 hits. I have no doubt that some of you may have seen the video but I thought what a great species to start with so why  not visit the page via the link below.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cooling Off!

Well the days are really geting shorter and the cool air is starting to arrive, this is when people start telling me I should swap my shorts for trousers! I am in the process of building boxes for a few different species of birds of prey in my local area, I need to get them up sooner rather than later so that the birds can get used to them and hopefully use them for the winter ready for spring. One species I am focusing on is the Little Owl, in Cheshire the grazed farm land with old Oak trees has proved to be perfect habitat for these owls but in recent years myself and friends have noticed a drop in pairs. I knew I had at least one pair on my local patch and the great thing is Little Owls are sedentary and hold territory all year round so myself and a friend decided to see if we could locate the territory(s) so we could put some boxes up for the birds.

So on Friday night we went out armed with our Little Owl MP3 call to locate the pairs, now I say night but Little Owls start becoming active at dusk but you will also see them out during the day. The first pair I knew about responded immediatly but then we heard another owl from the other side of the field, now it is fairly common that if the land is good for Little Owls you will get territorys very close to each other and we put this down to being a second pair based on the distance apart. We drove to the back of the farm where a pair of Kestrels had nested this year and played the call, we didnt have to wait long for a response from an Oak tree and also a large pile of rubble out in the field. SO were putting it down as potentially three pairs of Little Owl on the area of farm we found and in the next couple of weeks we will be back out in the fields choosing suitable locations for the boxes.

Want to see a bit of Little Owl action then have a look below

Other news from the bird of prey world at the moment Red Kites are doing extremely well in Ireland after an extensive release project

Did anyone catch the opening Autumnwatch 2011 on Friday, if you didn't then click on the BBC iPlayer link as there is a great piece by Roy Dennis one of the worlds leading Osprey experts and his role is radio tagging the three Osprey chicks born in Monmouthshire, Wales.

Back onto the topic of Red Kites I have come across another website based on these birds back in the UK and also asking people to take part in a survey of feeding Red Kites in the UK, sadly I am not lucky enough to have Red Kites in the area never mind feeding the birds in my back garden. Have a look below

I have also had a message informing me of a society created for Turkey Vultures Society, I have only had a brief glance at the website but it seems to have all the information you might need on these highly adaptable birds.

I am currently in the process of tidying up the Books page as I have added several new titles to my book case and I am also trying to set up something exciting for the I've never heard of that bird of prey page on the right hand tool bar.

Hope you enjoy and keep coming back!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Persecution Updates!

I forgot to mention those of you who are interested in following the persecution and political side to birds of prey in the UK need to keep following Raptor Politics and Raptor Persecution Scotland Blog. Every day more things come to light about previous story and articles I may have linked on this blog which is usually expanded more on these two pages.

Raptors around the world!

Well it feels like being abroad here in the UK with the lovely warm weather we have just had, perfect for watching young Common Buzzards stretching their wings and also Sparrowhawks thermalling in the blue skies. I'm going to get a sore neck with all this looking up. I have been a bit busy lately at work with the students coming back so I apologise for the lack of entries but hopefully you have been following things via our bird of prey links page. Well I have got plenty of stuff for you to read below and the blog will be getting a bit of clean up and update.

So what have the birds of the prey been upto from around the world, well I'm that behind there has been 3 Wildlife Extra newsletters I have missed.

The Autumn migration is well underway with thousands of birds moving to warmer climbs, this is no easy journey especially when your route includes Malta.

An Osprey found injured by fishing line has had a happy ending but is this happening all to ofren with fishing line?

Some of the best known Peregrines in the UK live at Symonds Yat and this year they surprised the viewers of the breeding season with the late arrival of a smaller juvenil.

The Hen Harrier continued this year to be the most persecuted raptor in the UK with only 4 pairs in England, anyone who follows the Hen Harrier issues closely will have heard of the Langholm Project a unique project to find out if Hen Harriers and Red Grouse shooting can co-exist.

On a sadder note is the continued persecution of birds of prey in the UK, below are just three stories that have come to light albeit a little late in the day.

The Sea Eagle camera based in Australia has recently announced they have had there millionth viewer, why not catch up on it all before it fledges.

Now something for our extreme raptor enthusiasts, below are three scientific papers that have recently landed in my inbox, so if your keen to find out something a bit more in depth about raptors from around the world below you can read about Harpy Eagles in Serra Bonita, Semi Collared Hawk in Northern Peru and the effects of radio back packs on Red Kites in England.

Two more things before I finish this post, firstly the Raptor Research Foundation September Newsletter is available on this link and a website researching Arctic Raptors you can find this on the links page.

Hope you enjoy all the above, I'm off to tidy up the blog and add a new page. Don't forget we are now on Twitter you can follow us at!/raptor_aid and why not add us as a friend on Facebook at

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Massive Thankyou to a TOP artist & TOP bloke!

Well I met Dave Rampling a wildlife artist and falconer from Devon for the first time at the International Centre for Birds of Prey last weekend, I thought he was a top bloke to talk to and his artwork is truly fantastic at brilliant prices. I bought two prints one of the Perlin on kill for a friend who flies a Perlin and he loves it and a Buzzard head shot for myself which I'm very pleased with! His work really does catch the moment and the species in particular and a must for anyone who loves birds of prey!

It gets better though, I also wanted a print of the Sparrowhawk chasing Sparrows in a bigger size so Dave said best order it off his website, I did so but then decided I liked a male Kestrel print so ordered them both. They both arrived within two days and not only that but I found a print of a Peregrine on Partridge with the Spar print and a mounted female Kestrel print in with my Male Kestrel print!

I thought this must be a mistake so I rang Dave to find out if I owed him anymore money as I would happily keep the two extra prints but he said NO, they are a FREEBIE to a good customer!!!!!!!

Well Dave you are an absolute legend and a pleasure to have met and purchased your stunning work! It is nice to know even though there are a few bad apples which appear in the British falconry field there are still gems like yourself who are talented and willing to share it! I will be making more purchases and definately an original at some point and I recommend anyone who reads this on the forum to visit David's website and buy something nice or visit his centre in Devon, I will be visiting when I have a free weekend!

Thanks once again Dave!

I have added Daves website to the links page and also another webpage from the European Peregrine falcon  working group 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Poisoning Birds of Prey!

It is becoming a bit of a  trend now in Britain, the way which must be most commonly used to killed birds of prey illegally and that is with poison. Whereas other countries struggle with illegal hunters and trappers we have a silent killer on our hands which can lie there for days waiting to strike but still having the same deadly effect. If we thought policing illegal shooting and trapping  of raptors was difficult well surely this is bordering impossible, with so many chemicals still readily available and the arguements of target species how can a stop be brought upon these silent murders.

Below are just a few stories highlighting the poisoning problems facing Britains birds of prey.

They are sad to read about but this is sadly just the tip of the ice berg in the UK, the long agonizing deaths these birds must go through makes it all the more painful to read.

Now For Some Easy Reading News!

Bit behind on some of these but just ignore if you have come across them already, a few from Wildlife Extra, the first relates to releasing 16 Sea Eagles one of which was apparently the goose killing culprit from the other post!

Any of you interested in the flights and tracking of Britains Ospreys have a look at this nice story, they will be well settled in back abroad now!

The Peregrine Fund in America are still carrying out fantastic work, the first piece relates to the ongoing release of California Condors and the second is the successful release of a young Philippine Eagle.

Another great interview from African Raptors about the Martial Eagle in South Africa

And for something very local to me, the Marsh Harriers bred again this year in Cheshire, the nest previously found by a very good friend of mine!

What a Load of Rubbish!

I tried to post something about this last week before I went to the ICBP but my computer crashed and I never got back round to it so it is a bit of old news but it annoyed me a bit. Some of you may have seen the article attached below.

Now I think the whole thing is just daft and this has been blown way out of proportion by people who don't understand the birds or in fact wildlife. I don't for one second doubt this must has been a horrible ordeal for the clergy man but after reading what happened from several sources and seeing the injury it seems  fairly clear how the injuries occurred. It seems that in his haste to scare off the eagle the gentleman was in the way of the exit meaning the eagle scrambled over him to get out leaving the scratch on his back. I have dealt with eagles in captivity and if it had tried to hurt him intentionally he would have had more than that on his back, when an eagle locks its feet in protection or fear you would know about it!

What I also don't believe is how the victim can then comment on how he thought the idea of releasing the birds was suppose to bring millions into the Scottish economy but it hasn't! I think he needs to check again and see how many people visit Scotland just to see the White Tailed Sea Eagle, they raise millions and create a fair few jobs along the way! Finally maybe he might want to remember what his job is, I thought Christians believed everything God created was sacred whether its a Toulouse Goose to our native White Tailed Sea Eagle.  But I won't go into religion!

 It doesn't end there, off the back of this story the Scottish Gamekeepers Association has called for an enquiry into the realease of Sea Eagles on the East coast of Scotland with the view they might not be able to differentiate children from there natural prey items. I was actually quite amazed to think an organisation would try and call a government enquiry off the  back of that idea, it is something of fictional books. Firstly Sea Eagles will primarily fish/scavenge and possibly hold down prey no bigger than a lamb, and secondly there are so many illusions about what a bird of prey can carry off, when you think they will weigh between 4-8kg and the average  5 year old weight is 17-19kg I think the battle would be a bit one sided in favour of humans. The other thing that makes sea eagles or the Haliaeetus genera different from say a Golden Eagle or the Aquila genera is that sea eagles are snatchers/scavengers where as the Aquila's are more tacklers and will take down bigger prey but you'd have to go a long way with the kids to find a wild Golden Eagle.
Take a look at the article below.

Where Have I Been!

Ok so it has been a while but just like London  buses nothing for a while then 3 come along at once, and that's what I'm going to do now 3 posts for you as I think they all need separating!

Firstly I best tell  you where I have  been and what I have been up to which also means  I will mention one special place in the UK. At the start of last week I made trip to Gloucestershire and the International Bird of Prey Centre owned and ran by Jemima Parry-Jones MBE, they had an event coming up and  needed some help getting ready for it so I  gave them 3 days hard graft and in return I hoped to meet Jemima and her team and get to see what goes on behind the scenes of this amazing  centre.

Now I won't go into every detail of my visit but I'd like to give you an insight into the ICBP and what it is all about, Jemima is recognised around the world for her work with captive birds of prey especially the breeding of rare species but also the great conservation work she carry's out with her collection. The centre is nestled in a lovely village called Newent down  a truly narrow country track and is attached to Jemimas lovely house, essentially the centre is her back garden, she bought the centre from her late father Philip Glazier a highly regarded falconer who back in 1967 started the original Falconry Centre. The centre is now home to around 250 birds of prey covering 60 species from around the world and 5 labradors (well one is a terrier), the range of species can be seen on the webpage but they cover everything you could want to see.

The birds are housed in lovely large barn style aviaries designed and built from years of trial and error and they prove this mastered by the ease of use and lack of disruption made to the birds, some of my daily tasks included raking out the sand and changing water bath's all which can be done effortlesssly. These aviaries include the owl courtyard, small Falcon aviaries, Kite block and large Eagle barns but what really does it for me are the grounds that the whole place is set in.

As you enter the centre you come to the hawk walk where the current flying  birds are tethered usually a large grassed area with several perches scattered about, but at the ICBP it really is like a walk in a show garden. Along the walk are creeping plants and drooping trees seperated by rose bushes and past these are the birds, as you walk on around to the aviaries there are lawns and flower beds with shrubs and bushes growing aplenty. The centre is not short of mature trees some overshadowing the aviaries or a nice picnic spot, they have a small woodland walk currently being created to fit in with the childrens play area and Mozarts Owl Maze. These are found next to the flying arena, which is through an archway of foliage and here you can catch 3 flying demo's depending on the time of year, make sure you check out the gate on the way down, painted by my own fair hand but thats as far as my artistic skills stretch.

Jemima and her team were the nicest bunch I have come across at a centre, and if your looking for a day out you should look no further than here! In my opinion this place set's the standard for birds of prey in captivity and it was a treat to spend three days at the centre, I'll be going back!

Make sure you visit!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

New web pages added!

Aren't you all lucky, two post's in one night but I have come across several new websites relating to a variety of bird of prey projects. Take a look below or come back later and check out my bird of prey related web pages!

Eagle Conservation Committee in Poland -

Raptor Conservation Working Group (Milvus) -

Imperial Eagle Conservation in Hungary -

Bearded Vulture Monitoring -

Black Vulture Conservation Foundation -

Grey Falcon Study -

I hope you enjoy them, I will endeavour to update the bird of prey book page as I have many new titles which need adding. Coming soon will be updates and the start of the species specific page and under the microscope page aswell so keep coming back!


Raptors around the world!

Something that I would really like to change for wild birds of prey is the wild trapping and selling of raptors at flea markets and street stalls that goes on in some countries. I have come across it so many times while researching various things relating to birds of prey and the photos always send me into a deep depression. Plans are in place by myself to try and raise funds and awareness for the few organisations that do work tirelessly towards a solution.

On the issue of birds of prey being trapped and persecuted take a look at the links below, the first one is a report on illegal raptor trapping in Iraq. The second link introduces a rehabilatation centre titled Green Balkans based in Bulgaria, rescuing many birds of prey each year.

A bit more species specific are two organisations which are working to help conserve two certain species of birds of prey. The first one is based in Italy and it is working to preserve Red Kites in two nature reserves in Central Italy. The second page is an organisation working to help save and reintroduce the Saker Falcon in Bulgaria, take a look at the fantastic work for a beautiful falcon.

Two final pages concern raptor migration and in particular raptor corridors, these are routes across land that on migration get high concentrations of migrating birds. The first one is based in North America, and it has loads of interesting documents covering raptor migration including a great image gallery. Secondly I maybe repeating myself but it is the request for migration volunteers for the Batumi Raptor count in Bulgaria, it takes place each year and if you want to improve your raptor identification and help with a worthwhile conservation project take a look at the link below.

All of the above web pages will be added to my links page so if you ever want to re-visit them, rather than search through my posts just click on the bird of prey related pages on the right hand side!

Still a great time for us Brits to get out and see our native birds of prey, I went for a nice walk today on my local patch with the dogs and heard and sighted numerous juvenile Buzzards calling, a female Sparrowhawk circling above a small coppice and a Kestrel hovering over a hedgerow! Brilliant stuff!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Soggy Owls!

Well it feels like summer has been and gone, the wind is up and biting and I can't help but notice leaves gathering along the drive I go down to work and then the rain sets in. I actually love the varied weather we have in the UK although it did me no favours last week when I was carrying out an Owl Prowl for the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. The idea was a leaisurely walk around my local patch which has three owl species living on it and chat about there ecology and lives and maybe a possible glimpse of one or two.

On the night before I decided to go and see if I could see any of the Barn Owls I had been involved in ringing a month previously. The male bird has been roosting in an old derelict barn whilst the female and young have been using a pole nest box and I had been reliably informed the male usually appears about 8.30pm. The male bird didnt disappoint as he came curving out of the barn and off down the maize field in the direction of the nest box, I made my way down the bridle path which eventually runs adjacently to the nest box. I soon heard the shrill hissing shriek of a young Barn Owl begging and then over the hedge row not two but three Barn owls made there way down the bridle path and off onto the meadows, I decided to go and find a nice spot with a good view of the lower meadows and the nest box and wait for the owls to return, within 10 minutes the first owl appeared gliding across the rough grassland up away from the nest box and then another owl appeared quartering the lower meadow then plunging into the grass before rising and following the first owls path. They must have been the adults because in a large Oak tree the third owl landed hissing and shrieking while looking in the direction of where the adults had gone, I had a great view of it through my binoculars until it got better and the youngster flew up onto the nest box. It sat there swivelling its head before it locked its stare onto me tucked into the hedge and flew straight towards me and just 20ft above my head, as it passed over I made a light squeak through pursed lips and the owl did a near 180 degree turn to fly back over my head and off back down the meadows. I decided to leave the owls in peace, and wander back to the car, now if my guests on the Owl Prowl could get that sort of experience it would be money well spent.

Sadly this wasn't to be the case as the weather the following night was terrible for owls, we didnt quite have the heavy rain expected but it blew a gale and we had showers. The three participants that braved the weather seemed to enjoy the walk despite the weather and we managed to hear the resident Little Owls but sadly no Barn Owl sightings and the winds ruined any chance of hearing the Tawny owls in the woods.

I will be holding more bird of prey related activities on my local patch, hopefully the weather will be with me and I can show my guests the same experiences I have had on my patch. Watch out for updates!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Two New Pages!

I have added two new pages to the right hand tool bar on the main page to try and bring something new to the blog I'll stick the title of the page below with a bit of a brief description about how it will hopefully work or what my idea is!

Under The Microscope

The idea behind this page was for me to look at something relating to birds of prey in a bit more detail and write a piece about it for this blog page. The topic could be anything, a raptor conservation organisation, a current news article, a new or old topic relating to birds of prey or an interview with someone who is involved with birds of prey and conservation.

I Haven't Heard of That Raptor

I'll happily admit I don't know every species of bird of prey there is in the world but thats brilliant because I love learning about a new species. The idea is quite simple for this page, to learn a bit more about the different species of raptors there are, with over 300 species of diurnal raptors and roughly 250 species of Owls there is plenty to get stuck into. I'm going to write each individual species on a slip of paper and pull them out individually. Please don't expect this to be a definitive guide but using some of my guide books or even a specialist guest blogger I hope to introduce some species you might not have heard about and if you have some knowledge about the current species let me know!

Hopefully these two pages might bring something new to the blog, I will get started on the first editions this week. It will probably take me a week to write all the species down on little slips of paper!

As always if you have any comments please get in touch.

Plenty of things to read about!

Well its gorgeous weather outside, I have spent the morning at a horse event in the gorgeous grounds of Cholmondeley castle and like all good supportive boyfriends I got bored noticed a large mere with plenty of dragon flies so went looking for hunting Hobbies, you never know!

I've got plenty of stuff for you all to read from the world of birds of prey so I hope you find at least some of it interesting. Let me know if theres anything else you want me to dig up for you!

Firstly a good friend of mine has just had published a new field guide which he helped co-author titled A Field Guide To Monitoring Nests which is a comprehensive and detailed guide into the nests of 145 species of British breeding birds. I have been fortunate to spend time in the field with Richard Castell and learnt a fair bit about the obsessive art of nest finding and let me be honest theres not many people better at nest finding than Richard Castell. Take a look below

Here in the UK I have a couple of pieces to relay to you, some great news from Wales firstly in that the Cors Dyfi pair of Ospreys have successfully bred and the first youngster since 1604 has fledged. You can read more on the link here

More news from the Wildlife Extra page is for Golden Eagles in Scotland and the news that the Scottish government has denied consent for a 14 turbine wind farm.

Wind farms are currently the new topic when it comes to conserving energy in the UK but that is not to say they are a new idea, around the globe they are used inland and have proved fatal for large birds of prey like the Golden Eagle. They are also known to kill other bird species and bats, but what does the future hold for a species like the Golden Eagle which has managed to survive extensive persecution thanks to its inhospitable habitats in Northern Scotland, a piece has been written on the Raptor Politics site and can be read here

Some of you might remember I had mentioned Simon Thomsett and his three piece interview on the Crowned Eagle on the African Raptors site, well Simon also has a blog that he updates and the most recent post has just dropped into my inbox, have a read and why not start following Simon yourself

Another newsletter that has just recently dropped into my inbox is from the Belize Raptor Research Institute, I love reading about foreign conservation projects especially successes and they have had a couple of good pieces of news to report, take a look at the newsletter here

 Any of you who might be interested in getting away to another country and helping raptors then take a look at the Batumi Raptor Count in Georgia. Sadly in Europe and further afield birds of prey are still shot and persecuted by hunters and they need our help, I dare say this trip wouldn't be for the faint hearted after looking at some of the hunting pictures in the gallery but they need our support and what a fantastic chance to improve your Raptor ID skills.

I haven't had chance to digest the next article but the evolution of birds is something that fascinates me,  I have been sent a new article regarding a new fossilised bird found in China that is thought to be older than the Archaeopteryx. The article is here

Finally I was contacted recently asking if I could alert the readers of this blog about the work being carried out in Bulgaria for the Egyptian Vulture, sadly they are down to just 30 pairs! have a look at the website here and I will add it to the website page for future reference
Bulgaria also has another website titled save the raptors highlighting conservation efforts in the country for the Imperial Eagle and Saker Falon the website is
You can also read a new interview about the Eastern Imperial Eagle in the Ukraine on this link below

WOW there is a lot there for you to get through and I will be following this post with another one regarding the two new pages I have added to the right hand toolbar on the main screen. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Where did it go?

The last month is what I mean! I cannot believe it has been nearly a month since I last made a contribution so I apologise, but it has been a busy month.

So what have I been doing and what is going on in the raptor world, well I have been busy helping a friend with his raptor ringing which has included a variety of species. For those of you not in the know about raptor ringing, you must be licenced in order to disturb and/or interfere with wild birds of prey in the UK, my friend is fully licensed and monitors a number of species on his patches of land and it is a joy to have been involved.

The majority of British birds of prey will have finished the breeding process and youngsters will now be out on the wing so it is the perfect time to see birds of prey in Britain. Barn Owls and Sparrowhawks will be fledging about now and then thats the 2011 year wrapped up so it will be interesting to see how species have managed this year.

I did ask myself a question this year about one particular species which is very scarce and secretive in the UK, how well have Honey Buzzards done this year? The one reason I pondered this is because I have seen next to no Wasps this summer in my part of the world, Wasp grubs are a large part of the Honey Buzzards diet but I don't know whether their is a nationwide shortage of them and whether it would truly affect the few HB which visit our shores?

Those of you interested in how Britains Ospreys faired this year have a look at the link below, things finished off pretty well.

Those of you interested in Eagles and who may have started reading Simon Thomsett's account of the African Crowned Eagle can find the third installment below, its on the African Raptor page  make sure to take a look round as there is plenty more new stuff.

Meanwhile in America they are facing more heartache with lead ammunition still being used and congressional bills being introduced which could have a negative impact on wildlife and raptors, read more on the link below.

When it comes to birds of prey in the news why not take a look at the BBC News page on the link page below.

Finally I need to put a bit more effort into this site so I'm going to add a couple of new pages to the site, both of which will put the spotlight on a certain area of birds of prey. Watch this space and I will try and add something tonight or over the weekend.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Busy Busy!

Well its nearly the end of June and I haven't had chance to sit down and write on the blog although I have been keeping my finger on the raptor pulse, mainly out in the field. June is when all the young birds of prey are growing up and getting active so I've been very busy helping friends with monitoring and ringing young.

But whats going on around the world with birds of prey, well I have been reading some fantastic interviews from the African raptor web page including a fascinating in depth interview with Simon Thomsett about his extenxsive studies covering the Crowned Eagle its so meaty its in 3 sections but well worth a read. I read part one and many of Simons views and opinions rang several bell's for the future of raptor conservation and human impacts. Check out part one below

Sadly I have also read that the oldest breeding Osprey found in Scotland has failed to hatch any young this year, questions have been linked  to the birds age as to why the eggs were infertile but we must not forget that we have had some extremely harsh weather during the breeding season and Roy Dennis a well known Osprey expert has also commented on the hard weather Ospreys have had in Scotland with nest's even being blown out of tree's.

I have a couple of new web pages that I have come across, they might not be new to some readers but I will add them to the Web site links page. The first one is a South African based vulture conservation group working towards raising awareness about the struggle African vultures are currently facing, it has several fantastic downloads including information posters and childrens activitties take a look at
The second website is another page that interest me as it relates to the the illegal trade in wildlife and animals, I have always been interested to find out more about the illegal trapping and trading of birds of prey around the world and whether anything is done about it. I have several pictures that have been sent to me showing birds being sold on the side of streets and in markets they make grim viewing but what is being done about it? The website is

I have just started looking into the IUCN Red List in conjunction with Birdlife International on the state of birds of prey in the world. I'm interested to find out how upto date these status's are and what is being done to find out about the status of our more unheard of species, I have already learnt some species I had never really come across and one thing has become clear that if your an endemic species you are usually in trouble. I will publish a table in due course and anything else I manage to find out through this blog page.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Lots of bad news with a little bit of good to finish!

Sadly there has been some bad news when it comes to birds of prey in the UK and abroad that I have read about in the last week most of it covering raptor persecution. Check out each individual story below and see what you make of it all, I know what I feel and think about these mindless actions!

Raptor Politics have plenty of stories this last week covering a variety of persecution cases that have taken place this last month with the UK's wild birds of prey. Take a look at the link below which is just one story of our rarest species of raptor the Hen Harrier and suspected persecution on their nest site.

Have a good look at the other sad events taking place in the UK when it comes to native birds of prey trying to survive. Another story of survival includes California Condors and how six have recently been found with lead poisoning, three of which have died from the poisoning. When will the world realise how poisonous this stuff is!

Now on a much brighter note some of you might like to hear how some of the UK's nesting European Eagle Owls have had a successful breeding season. The pair from Dunsop valley have had there best season ever, click on the link below to read more about the pair

With all this persecution happening you might wonder if anything actually gets done about it by the police and authorities, well the law has decided to take action with one Derbyshire gamekeeper who was caught  using illegal trap methods among other charges but has he been let off to easily, you decide by reading more on the link below

Plenty of reading  for you all!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Two pieces from Twitter!

Some of you may be familiar with Twitter, the global website that lets people announce where and what there upto anywhere in the world or maybe what they are thinking, its called tweeting! I'm on twitter if anyone is interested under raptormantv I just use it to follow some interests of mine and one of those is the BBCnature tweets! Below are a couple of recent ones.

This link is from the BBC nature site with some different videos on Tawny Owls, some quite interesting footage especially the one  of the Tawny Owls  fishing.

The next one is a short news piece on Barn Owl nest boxes or should I say manor houses? The Barn Owl Centre have created a whopping big Barn Owl Manor which is suppose to be the ultimate in Barn Owl accomodation. Personally I think it looks a bit over the top but if a pair of Barn Owls take up residence in the next Spring who cares it will have done its job. Take a look below.

I'm currently really busy with my new business venture setting up an outdoor education centre for school children and various other groups at a large dairy farm in Cheshire, the facillities are brilliant the land is fantastic we just need to find out what the teachers think! If you know of any teachers in the North West who may be interested ask them to please get in touch I'd love to hear from them!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Where has the time gone!

I can't believe I haven't posted in over a week and its June already, I have been very busy with other projects and out watching the activities of birds of prey on my patch, the usual species are incubating or rearing young now and to be honest there is nowhere I would rather be than out there following them.

SO whats going on in the bird of prey world, well the oldest Osprey thought to be breeding is now incubating her 60th egg so fingers crossed they hatch! I have also just read on the raptor politics website that the Dunsop Valley Eagle Owls have bred this year and had 4 young which is brilliant news, you can see the news on this link

If you want to read something interesting about our most common British bird of prey then check out this interview on the European Raptors site on this link

With BBC Springwatch back on our screens and a bit of bird of prey activity it is great to see that they have a camera on a Buzzards nest. It has already shown how Buzzards are much more then glorified worm catchers bringing in the usual rabbit and rodents but also duckling, frog and Grass snake.

They also have a camera link to a Red Kite nest and it is one of these birds I had the pleasure of watching yesterday afternoon in Cheshire. Now although Red Kites are thriving in the areas where they have been introduced they are still an unusual site in Cheshire but as I drove home I noticed a bird wheeling in the sky that didn't fit the usual Buzzard form. I pulled over and immediately noted the fork shaped tail continuosly twitching in flight and then the real treat happened when the kite began to dive and sweep across the field in an attempt to grab something. I just sat in the sun and enjoyed!

I did a talk the other week for the Wirral Barn Owl Trust which I think went pretty well, at least no one fell asleep and I got some interesting questions at the end. It was a bit of an unusual talk where I tried to cover how birds of prey work things like eyesight, hearing hunting etc. I enjoyed writing it anyway.

I had an e-mail today from Scott Mason who set up Parahawking in Nepal where you can actually fly with trained birds of prey! Now I have paraglided and it was amazing so I would love to know what its like to fly with birds of prey. Scott actually does a hell of a lot of conservation work for birds of prey in and round Nepal including setting up a rescue charity and being involved in the Vulture rescue programmes! Check out his site on this link

I'll be back online soon!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Breeding Season In Full Swing!

There is plenty of activity around with breeding birds and not just with birds of prey, I have been out and about checking out new areas for birds of prey around my home patch and located Little Owls, Kestrels and possible Barn Owl future sites in lovely old barns. I also took some owl pellets into college for some students to dissect and it was absolutely fascinating, they were big pellets full of mice and voles and the kids had great fun trying to identify the bones and then trying to piece together a skeletal mouse or vole. Most pellets contained no less than 4 skulls and lower mandibles.

In the news there have been a few stories covering urban Peregrines and a Sparrowhawk nest being predated by crows, which is similar to what happened to a local pair of Peregrines near my home. You can see these and similar stories at the BBC link below.

On Wildlife Extra this month they have an update of the Ospreys around the UK and also a sad story of the strange disappearance of a male Osprey from Rutland presumed possibly killed illegally. Now people may think why do we always automatically point the finger at illegal persecution, there is a chance the bird could have died from natural causes or has the bird even died. The reason the bird is assumed dead though is because he has left a female on the nest with three eggs, the male is the main provider of fish for her during incubation and would take this job very seriously. All animals have one thing in common, they want to survive so they can pass on there genes so they put a lot of hard work and effort into this important part of survival. Take a look at the Osprey articles below.

Indian vultures have seen a glimmer of hope with the banning of Diclofenac in 2006, the drug which has nearly wiped out some species. Now scientists are monitoring levels of the drug found in carcasses that are fed on by vultures and have noted a drop in the level of Diclofenac found. The drug is still used illegally but if some species are to be saved it will need to be taken out of the food chain completely.
Check the article below.

I must draw your attention to the Raptor Politics website as there is another issue that needs the attention of anyone interested in raptor conservation. Having just digested the comments from certain organisations about the need to cull certain species another topic jumps off the shelf to chew over. That topic is wind farms, and not just whether they are financially viable or eye sores of the countryside but the terrible effects these objects have on birds of prey! Sadly they both require the same sort of environment and if we look at what effects wind farms have had abroad you will see they have claimed the lives of large amounts of birds of prey each year. Read a bit more about wind farms and there effects below.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Raptor Stories!

Well theres a few pieces of raptor news on the Wildlife Extra news page this week but you can check them all out here.

Firstly some great news for Osprey lovers, the Glaslyn pair have hatched their first egg and have a healthy chick and to cap things off its the earliest Osprey hatching recorded in the UK. The pair were actually the earliest Ospreys to arrive back to their nest site this year arriving back a month earlier than usual. Could this have anything to do with the dreaded global warming or am I just stirring? Also in this article is a pair of birds only a stones throw away from my village and thats a pair of Peregrines nesting in an urban area who have laid an unusually large clutch of 5 eggs, the town pigeons could be in for some hammer this summer in order to feed 5 hungry beaks. Check out the link below.

On a more political note and after a recent BBC Scotland documentary it showed that some organisations in Scotland are calling for a cull on birds of prey. More can be read about this on raptor politics site and I will also be doing a seperate post on the subject.

Calling all Londoners! The London Wildlife Trust are asking the public to keep an eye out for Kestrels above the skies of London. Sadly Kestrels are not fairing quite that well in the UK though and are on the Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern due to a moderate decline in recent years, but people tend to think Kestrels are still a thriving raptor due to so many birds seen hovering over our motorways and road verges. The problem is they hunt along these road verges as they are now some of the prime habitats for rodents due to the shifts in agricultural practice. I'm not saying Kestrels are in a desperate survival struggle like our native Hen Harrier but I should point out that the reason behind the decline has not been pin pointed so we shouldn't rest easy. So maybe its time we all kept an eye out for our hovering falcon, take a look at the article below.

Some great news from across the pond now in the shape of a baby California Condor chick in Arizona. Those of you who have followed the plight of the condors once one of the rarest birds of prey in the world will know of the amazing work of the Peregrine Fund in the USA to bring the California Condor back from the brink of extinction. The Peregrine Fund have released several condors back into te wild around Arizona and biologist have been monitoring this pairs courtships. You can read more about the latest arrival on the link below

A species I am keeping my eyes for this breeding season is the Little Owl, I have had a few conversations this year with fellow raptor enthusiasts who have noticed a distinct lack of Little Owls in there usual areas. I may produce a seperate post on this subject shortly.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Great Weekend!

Well I have had a bumper weekend of raptors and wildlife! I have seen no shorter than 6 species on my patch and even saw some other great wildlife including Hare, Fox & cubs and a nice male Wheatear.

On the bird front it is extremely sad news that another Golden Eagle has been proved poisoned in Scotland, proving that despite our wildlife laws they are still routinely ignored at the expense of the countrys amazing wildlife. You can read more on

I have also seen that a Black Kite has appeared in Glouscesteshire, Black Kite's are a smaller relative of our native Red Kite and probably one of the most widespread birds of prey found in the world. The UK has seen Black Kites on its shores and its not an unusual sight amongst a group of our Red Kite's but they don't tend to stay for long, there is even examples of Black and Red Kites breeding here in the UK although I think that might have been a one off. Black Kite's are big scavengers more commonly seen in huge numbers flying above waste sites in large cities like Delhi, I can only imagine its the same image when Red Kites used to line the streets of London feeding off scraps. Read more at

I wanted to draw your attention to another web site found on our links page because they have some fantastic new interviews online. I have just finished reading two really interesting interviews by field biologists one on White Tailed Sea Eagle in Norway and the other on Eurasian Kestrels in the UK, have a look as they make interesting reading.

On a local level and a sad one in a previous post I mentioned that I would find out how many egg's a local pair of Peregrines had this season. Well that post hadn't been on line for 24hrs before I got a sad e-mail saying squabbles had broke out between the Peregrines and the pair of Ravens also found on the rock face and the Ravens were recorded smashing the Peregrines egg's. Very sad news for the hard workers of the local Peregrine watch, as I have no doubt if the eggs were hatched the Parents would have put up a stronger fight but nature works in cruel ways in our minds.

Finally I hope you have all had the chance to sign the petition on the 38 degrees website regarding cuts with UK's wildlife laws, if not it only takes 2 minutes to really stand up for what matters other wise we'll have more stories like the poisoned Golden Eagle I started the post with.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Back Home With An Idea!

Ireland was fantastic such a friendly place and what a gorgeous city Dublin is, the history and architecture was brilliant and the Guiness is pretty special there too. Sadly the only birds of prey I got to see was the pair of Snowy Owls at Dublin Zoo, I'm not a big fan of zoo's as I think they can sometimes be to commercial and forget about the animals but Dublin Zoo seemed one of the better one's I've seen.

I did wonder whether Dublin had any urban Peregrines as there were plenty of high rise buildings and pigeons but I did a brief bit of research and drew blanks so if anyone knows anymore info I'd love to know. Most species of birds of prey in the UK will be sat on eggs incubating which with most species usually lasts, 30-35 days (specific species vary), the Lady of the Loch at Loch Lowes has three eggs underneath her and I am told the local Beeston Peregrines have eggs, but I'm waiting to hear how many.

When I set up this blog I wanted to encourage people to get out and enjoy birds of prey and maybe learn a little bit along the way just as I do, well I get to read a lot of stuff regarding birds of prey from all sides of the fence, whether its the RSPB fund raising with gloomy stories, Raptor Politics bringing to light raptor persecution, Countryside Alliance slamming the new RSPB Hen Harrier Project and shooters/gamekeepers calling for culls on birds of prey I can't help but feel someone needs to sit all interested and come up with some answers.

Now before you say it, what a can of worms and why bother, why not just let them all sit on there fences and argue there causes and rights, well in the middle of it are birds of prey and there future. Regardless of our views they have as much right in the countryside and any conflicts they have with man are usually due to our actions. I have read the articles and forums and thrashed it out in my head like many raptor conservationists have when it comes to the future of birds of prey in the UK and I feel something must be done.

We need to bring all the organisations together including the government and there affiliated organisations and discuss path's forward for all interested parties, we should be grown up and able to discuss these matters and work together for the good of raptors hopefully.

I am in the process of setting up a not for profit organisation called Raptor Aid, working towards raising a wider awareness about the conservation and plight of birds of prey around the world, lobbying organisations and governments to stand up and listen when it comes to birds of prey and support new and ongoing bird of prey conservation organisations and projects. Surely thats just the tip of the iceberg?

Now that is a can of worms to open but rather than sit on my backside I have a burning desire to make things happen for the good of birds of prey.

I'd love to know any followers thoughts/criticisms so please get in touch.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Red Kites recorded in big garden bird watch!

The Red Kite has made an incredible come back, for a bird that was pushed to the brink of extinction in the UK at the hands of humans. Not known for it's scavenging tendencies it fell into the bracket all birds of prey fell into, as a vermin or pest they were shot poisoned and trapped!

Re-introduction programmes came about in the 1990's with huge effects, the Red Kite really has bounced back! Only the other day I was looking at pictures of a Red Kite seen flying above my home village, great news! This has been reflected with the RSPB's big garden birdwatch 2011 where the Red Kite has been recorded in a number of gardens!

Check out the link here for the Rspb news release.

From the ferry!

I'm currently on the ferry to Ireland for 4 days relax, so I'm trying for the very first time to post through my iPhone, if it comes out wrong I'm sorry!

Firstly some important news that you may already be aware of but it needs everyones action! The government and it's Devine intelligence towards the budget deficit have come out with the idea of cutting/scrapping our wildlife and environmental laws as they feel it's to much red tape! What a ludicrous idea, things like the wildlife & countryside act were created to protect our natural world from money grabbers and commercial exploits to name a few! We can't let this government scrap these laws for there commercial gain, there are already to many countries who exploit there natural resources! I urge you to visit and sign there wildlife petition! It only takes 2 minutes!

Onto birds of prey I have found out there are Peregrines in the area of Worlds End they bred 3 youngsters last year so hears to a successful season for 2011 I will keep visiting to catch a glimpse! I recently joined the neotropical raptor group which keeps me posted on all sorts of research and activities with raptors found in the tropics, one group that seem very pro active is Ryan Phillips and the Belize raptor Institution. You can visit them at to keep upto date, I will add it to the links page!

I'm hoping whilst in Ireland I can get away and see some Hen Harriers as it's a bit of a hot bed for the species but I'll have missed the display flights but I have my binoculars packed.

My thumb is getting tired now from this phone tapping so I will post again soon, don't forget to sign the petition!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Spring Sunshine!

Yesterday I had the chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine and the odd bit of raptor sightings thrown in for good measure. I decided to go to a place in North Wales called Worlds End which looks out over Llangollen, I did have a specific reason for my visit and that was to see the Peregrines that a friend of mine had shown me a few years previously. A small country road winds up and round the base of the hillside and moorland and this offers great views up at the birds which I managed once before two summers ago.

I decided to go for a walk up onto the moorland first before heading round to where I had previously watched them 2 years ago, I was not disappointed with the warm weather and wildlife and it only took one bird to make my day. As I surveyed the moorland I met a green bush stood on its own on the moor and perched on the very top was a Cuckoo. The best views of a Cuckoo I have ever had, this bird was perched calling in its familiar tones but sadly not as familiar as they once used to be.

I left the Cuckoo in peace and wandered back down the hill to drive round to where I had previously seen the Peregrines, the great thing about this face of the hill is its always in the sun so brilliantly warm and perfect for soaring raptors. It wasn't long before I sighted my first falcon but on closer inspection it turned out to be a pair of Kestrels hunting along the ridge. A Buzzard soared across much to the disgust of the Kestrels but no signs of the Peregrines, I wandered along the road and got regular sights of the Kestrels until in the distance and through my binoculars still well in the distance I sighted a larger falcon silohuette but sadly it moved on over the ridge.

When it comes to observing birds of prey one of the first things I look at is the silohuette and the shape/size of the wings and tail, Kestrels have much sharper pointed wings than a Peregrine, the Peregrine also has a clippier wing beat due to a heavier wing loading (muscle). Colour wasn't to difficult to distinguish with the Kestrels due to the sunshine as they twisted and turned there rufous brown backs and the males blue/grey tail stood out brilliantly.

Of course it would be silly of me to think after one visit there were no Peregrines at Worlds End anymore, I will do some research with local bird watchers and pay the site a few more visits with the fantastic weather were having it would be rude not to.

I'll keep you all posted!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Spring is really springing!

I love this time of year, it really seems to cheer everyone up and the weather has been bliss especially for watching soaring Sparrowhawks and Buzzards above work.

I have taken on a massive project this summer and possibly to much for one man. My favourite patch of land has an old wet area which is known as the withy beds, I remember as a child going round there with the beds being full of water and a variety of species of wildfowl and other wildlife. Sadly now the beds are dried out due to a damaged bank and inundated with willow trees, so the plan is for a full renovation, which is going to mean a lot of tree removal and digging work. Obviously the breeding season holds the job up but that is fine by me, I can wander around it planning and plotting the task in hand.

I had what I think was two sad sights on the way to work the other morning, I say think because the first was what I thought was a dead Tawny Owl in the road but it had gone when I went back past but I was pretty certain it was a Tawny. It wouldn't surprise me as I have on several occasions driven down country lanes at night to meet a Tawny Owl sat in the middle of the road, maybe a missed mouse?

The second sad sight is a definate, a dead Barn Owl in the verge of the A55 by-pass, no doubt a collision with a vehicle and when you weigh about 12oz you don't stand much chance. I keep meaning to pull over to retrieve the body and see if it is rung to report its death and find out a little of its history but its on the central reservation verge and it would be pretty risky to get across to it. Its the 4th Barn Owl I have seen dead on roads this year, one I did manage to retrieve a ring number from and after reporting it I found out it was a young bird that had been rung only 5-6km away. Its a sad thing but a large amount of Barn Owls are killed on roads around Britain every year. If you see what you think is a dead owl or any bird of prey on the road I would recommend you leave it well alone for your own safety.

The Ospreys are still doing well, I'm trying to get a pass out tomorrow to visit Jemima Parry-Jones at the International Centre for Birds of Prey. I will come back to you in the next couple of days with some bird of prey news from around the world.

Happy Easter!


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Apologies & Great News!

Firstly I must apologise for not posting anything in the last week or so I've been away and otherwise busy but I have lots of news. I was lucky enough to get a few days away in North Wales in the gorgeous weather we had over last weekend, I spent the days on the beaches watching the Buzzards and Ravens wheeling and rolling above the sea, these cliffs are also home to Sand Martins. The Buzzards will be preparing to breed shortly but the Ravens I have no doubt will have fledged young already as they are one of our early breeders starting around January/February in some parts of the country.

Whilst at work the other day I was outside talking to some students when I heard the Kee-Kee call of a Sparrowhawk, as I looked up I was greeted by a pair of spar's circling and tumbling high above me. Sparrowhawks tend to breed a little later in the year in order to take advantage of the smaller birds that will have fledged as a food source, seeing them circling in the sky calling to each other is the start of courtship for the pair and now is a fantastic time to see what is a usually secretive bird.

I was also pleased to hear from a local bird watcher/photographer that he has had several sightings of a Red Kite on my local patch, he also managed to take some cracking photos. A bird that was nearly pushed to extinction within the British Isles but has since made probably the most successful come back off the back of several re-introduction schemes. My feelings are that it will not be long before the Red Kite is a regular sighting across the UK a sighting that should be welcomed by everyone as a real conservation pat on the back!

Now for some truly fantastic news, Lady the female Osprey who is thought to be the oldest Osprey ever to breed has laid her 59th egg! Since her amazing return from Africa to her Loch Lowes nest the worry was that she would now be possibly to old to breed but yesterday she started the task of a new family by laying her first egg for 2011. Ospreys normally lay 2-4 eggs so there may be more to come and it is also not sure if the eggs will be fertile the proof will come after around 35 days of incubation, but my fingers are certainly tightly crossed for a successful outcome but will she be able to cope? To keep upto date with all the happenings at the nest click on this link for news

Thanks for following and make sure you get out and enjoy the Spring!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Fantastic News - Lady of the Loch Has Returned!

I like many Osprey and raptor followers have been waiting with baited breath for the news about the return of Lady, the female Osprey from Loch Lowes. Not just any Osprey though for she is thought to be the oldest breeding Osprey known by anyone, and she has just returned to her nest this year making it the 21st year of her at Loch Lowe!

Her exact age is not known but it is thought to be roughly 26 as Ospreys don't breed til there 3-4 years old and considering the average life span is 8 years she has become a natural phenomenon but what is just as incredible is the legacy this bird and her partner(s) have brought into the world. Within her 20 previous breeding years she has laid 58 eggs and reared and fledged 48 chicks from those eggs, now if that isn't some contribtion to Osprey conservation I don't know what is!

Now I also want to do some maths with you because the feats of this bird don't stop there, every year Lady will fly back to Western Africa for the winter and return to the UK the following Spring, a round trip of 6000 miles. If we work this out she will have fledged and flew to Africa some 3000 miles and she won't have returned until the age of lets say 4 ready to breed, another 3000 miles. She has continued this journey for a further 22 years if we assume she is now 26 so lets work this out?

22 x 6000 = 132,000
+ 6000 (Fledged Year & Return)
= 138,000 miles

So if Lady makes the journey back to Africa this Autumn she will have flown 138,000 miles in her life time, quite amazing! All this has now been documented in a book by Helen Armitage and if anyone deserves an autobiography this bird certainly does, I believe it can be found on Amazon soon.

So what does the future hold for Lady, well anyone who followed her last year may remember the scare she gave watchers when she failed to move from her nest for 48hrs, experts believing it to be her final moments until she began to rouse her self and make the journey back to Africa. Like any wild animal in there twilight years she is now surely on borrowed time, and whether her age will effect her fertility well only each breeding season will tell us that, but I for one will be making the trip to Loch Lowe to pay the Lady of the Loch herself a personal visit!

More can be found at

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hen Harrier Conservation Framework!

I have a feeling this is attached to another post somewhere but I felt it needed to have a bit more importance so I'll post it again. The Hen Harrier is probably the most persecuted bird of prey the UK have at the moment including that it is also of European concern.

The framework has been carried out by the JNCC to assess a number of factors that are affecting Hen Harriers on a national level incluidng the Hen Harrier-Grouse Moor conflict and how this may be resolved. The Frame work will look at both species protection on a regional and national level, constraints effecting populations and conservaton management practices.

It is a hefty read and probably isn't for everyone, but for those of you who have followed the Hen Harrier plight or have a keen interest in how conservation plans are thought out, take a read.

African Lots of News!

Take a look at for loads of new interesting stories and field work that has been taking place. The stories range from Seychelles Kestrels, Amur Falcon tracking and vultures being poisoned but there is plenty more for you to get into.

If your keen on reading more about bird of prey conservation around the world go to the web page list on the right hand side of this blog to find loads of website covering raptor conservation all over the world.


Interview About Hobbies in Germany!

I have just read an interesting interview from the European Raptor website regarding an updated monograph of Hobbies in Germany. Klaus-Dietrich Fiuczynski has been studying Hobbies for a number of years and has just completed the Monograph, in this interview he answers some questions regarding his work with these beautiful little falcons.

The Hobby is also found in the UK during the summer months, when it migrates back to our shores after wintering in Africa and Europe. These stunning little falcons are often seen over wetlands where they hawk for there favourite prey, dragon flies and other flying insects. The Hobby can also be found on open farmland where it tends to find its nest site, these are often in the crown of a large tree usually in an old crows nest.

I hope you enjoy reading the interview and if there is one raptor you must see this summer in Britain it has to be this little rocket.

Heiress Fighting The Good Fight For Raptors!

The Heiress of the Tetra Pak group has spoken out about the persecution of raptors on Scottish estates, Sigrid Rausing has spoken to the Telegraph about how she feels certain neighbouring estates are flaunting the laws protecting species like Golden Eagles for there own personal and financial gain.

I have to say it is quite refreshing to hear this coming from a large Scottish landowner, as you will read in the article below she owns her own Scottish estate that she is completly transforming into a wildlife haven including one for raptors especially Golden Eagles. Miss Rausing also touches on the awful plans to build a 33 turbine farm on neighbouring land that is a known hot spot for Golden Eagles.

It is now well documented that these turbines can and do kill large birds including large raptors like Golden Eagles, this site has now been passed and SNH are said to be supporting this development with one of the reasons that there are currently no breeding Golden Eagles in the area. Well how do they expect to have any Eagles breeding in this area if they won't even be able to fly around safely, but thats surely just the tip of the ice berg!

Have a read of the article below!