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!

Added Protection For Sea Eagles!

A scheme is in the process of being set up to fund the relationship between Sea Eagles and farmers/crofters. Sea Eagles are at the highest numbers since they were re-introduced in Scotland but this has not always been greatly received especially when livestock is concerned.

Scottish farmers and crofters have always been concerned about the welfare of there livestock and young lambs in particular since the introduction of such a large predatory bird. Although Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles are capable of tackling something the size of a lamb they both would normally predate on smaller mammals and carrion, carrion more so for the Sea Eagles.

Although I see the money as a mainly good thing I can't help but feel more time needs to be put into educating farmers and crofters about the habits and lifestyles of such birds and weighing up both sides of the arguement.

Take a look at the brief news piece below

The Return of Ospreys in UK

Its that time of year again when the UK welcomes back Ospreys from there wintering grounds in Africa, the first males have returned and the next couple of weeks will see the return of further males and females to their previous years territory.

Ospreys have made a fantastic return to Britiain since being wiped out as a breeding bird in the 19th century, Scotland now has over 200 pairs, England 7 and Wales 1 with further birds coming in to muscle in on the action. Young Ospreys make the mammoth migration soon after they have fledged and won't return until they are around 3-4 years old and ready to breed.

There is one very special Osprey though and she has been christened Lady of the Loch, she has surpassed the expected life of a wild Osprey and is thought to be 25 years old, the expectancy is 8 years old. Lady has mothered and fledged 48 chicks so far. Last year was thought to be the final curtain for Lady as she spent a few days on her nest looking very poorly but she amazingly she recovered and set off on her migration back to Africa, now all eyes are on the skies of Loch Lowe for her return?

A book has been written telling the tale of Lady just click on the link below

For more information on the returning 2011 Ospreys click on the link below

Table of Scottish Raptor Persecution 1989-2011

Raptor Politics have published an interesting table showing the raptor persecution that took place during 1989-2011 in Scotland and was reported. This data is only what Raptor Politics could find or know about you will see that 95-97 contains no data.

The biggest killer of birds of prey in the table is poisoning by toxic chemicals and you will notice that the same usual raptors succumb to this sort of death due in part to their diet including carrion. I can't help but feel this type of persecution can be used as a smoke screen by the people laying down such poisons, I think it is all to easy for the perpetraitors to say it was used to control something lawfully like a fox it wasn't meant to be eaten by a Golden Eagle. But that still doesn't make it right so why are so little custodial sentences or fines handed out?

I would like to see a more comprehensive national list compiled to really show what birds of prey still face in modern times. Take a look at the table at the link below

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Breaking News - Update!

I mentioned previously the website Raptor Politics had breaking news regarding Natural England and there relationships with the RSPB and the North West Raptor Study Group. Raptor Politics has lifted the lid on Natural Englands decision not to renew there workers licences so they can monitor various raptor species on moorland including the rare and struggling Hen Harrier.

The Raptor Study Group have been carrying out surveys and monitoring for over 4 decades working alongside government organisations and charities like the RSPB but it all seems to have come to a head in recent years. The reasoning behind the non issue of licences according to Natural England is due to unco-ordinated nest visits by study group members. The study group have strong evidence though to prove that they were not and had no reason to be acting unlawfully and in fact it was another organisations licenced volunteer(s) that had acted without the correct agreements in place.

For me it seems a great shame that NWRSG and Natural England can't work together amicably for the same common cause, the conservation of birds of prey in England. It seems that the big government organisations are sticking together with there own agendas and the volunteer study group just seem to be in the way of this money train.

Have a look at the report below and make up your own mind.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Wind Turbines and Birds of Prey!

With more and more money being spent on environmentally friendly energy sources and the current spotlight on nuclear energy after the terrible hapenings in Japan I came across this news article regarding birds of prey and wind turbines.

Wind turbines are nothing new but more and more are being set up on and off shore not just in the UK but Europe and America. Sadly these turbines don't help birds of prey and some of the larger species, whilst soaring birds of prey have been found to collide with the blades of the turbines causing instant death. Species included in this list have been as diverse as Golden Eagle, Red Kite and vultures like the rare Egyptian Vulture.

More information can be found on the net about the effects of wind turbines and birds of prey with some interesting views on why birds of prey collide with them.

Below are two links one relating to a news piece against wind turbines and another regarding an open letter sent to the Scottish National Heritage (SNH) regarding the effects of turbines.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Those of you who follow the terrible persecution birds of prey face in the UK may be aware of Natural England and the vast areas of land they manage which are also habitats for  extremely sensitive species like Hen Harrier and European Eagle Owl. You may also have read that Natural England have revoked all licences for raptor working groups which allows them to survey and protect this valuable habitat and the nesting sites of raptors. The Raptor working groups have for years worked tirelessly to protect and survey the birds of prey found in England until now, it is of no surprise that with the withdrawal such licences the fate of species like the two named above are in the balance.

Raptor Politics have covered all of the above in much more detail than I will here in this post and it can all be found on there website but the reason for this post is that they have breaking news regarding Natural England and there support or lack of  for raptor conservation.

I for one cannot wait to read this expose!

Wildlife Extra - Four New Birds of Prey Stories

Just received the latest e-newsletter from Wildlife Extra, if your not signed up to it and you love reading news about the natural world then you should sign up they always have interesting stories not just based on birds of prey! This month though they have four stories relating to raptors and you can find the links below.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Two New Pages Added!

I have just added two new pages to the right hand side of the tool bar. The first one covers talks and raptor awareness courses that I have started to run and the second page is dedicated to any books I have read or been recommended relating to birds of prey.

I have been carrying out the odd talk each year covering birds of prey and a variety of subjects and species, this led me to set up a Raptor Awareness Day for the Cheshire Wildlife Trust which was very well received. I also set up an Owl Prowl for Delamere Forest which looked at British Owls, this again was greatly received so I have decided to branch out a bit further with the courses and talks. You can keep upto date with them all and when they are taking place on the page.

The second page has been created to share books that either I have read or have been recommended relating to birds of prey. You can have your say on this page too, if you have read a book that you want to share with fellow raptor enthusiasts drop me a message and I'll place it on the page for everyone to enjoy.

Birds of Prey Are Back?

An interesting article from the BBC news team below, quite a balanced piece on the whole asking the question, are birds of prey back from the brink? The reason I say it is a balanced article is because for once they have seemed to speak to a broad spectrum of organisations in relation to raptor conservation with some interesting quotes.

Throughout the Victorian times birds of prey were under enormous pressure from direct and indirect persecution with as this article shows certain species being wiped out from original ranges, but with hard work and education certain species with the correct management have made a recovery. So have we done our job?

Some species have done incredibly well, Peregrine Falcons have made a great recovery but you are more likely to see them on a high rise building than a sea cliff or moorland, and Kestrels have had to adapt to hunting motorway verges rather than neighbouring farm land. The latter bird is in fact in a steady decline, these two examples show how raptors have had to adapt to human growth.

We have created these problems for birds of prey and have worked hard to correct the balance but there is still plenty of work to carry out, why are Kestrels in decline? Why does England only have 12 breeding pairs of Harriers? How do we manage the future of birds of prey to appease all parties interested?

You might say why get involved but we are involved and it would be irresponsible to drop things now and let nature sort itself and with comments like I have read from the Song Birds Survival Trust can we sit back when supposed conservation trust's are calling for cull's on birds and animals. I am yet to read a positive thing from the SBST, yes certain species of songbirds and farmland birds are in decline but to point the finger at other species with the view of controlling them is a bit narrow minded, groups like this need to have a more open view on managing conservation issues! At the moment they seem like wolves in sheep's clothing!

Take a look at the article below!

Friday, 4 March 2011

RSPB speaks out about Hen Harrier persecution!

The RSPB have taken a step forward in the fight on Hen Harrier by announcing the demise of Hen Harriers due to illegal persecution. New figures released in 2010 have shown a 20% decline in the last 6 years, take a look at the article below for some sad figures on the decline in Hen Harriers across the UK.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Golden Eagle Snatches Lamb!

Take a look at a recent article in the Mail on Sunday regarding new evidence that shows a wild Golden Eagle carrying away a lamb. The article claims that this proves hill farmers worst fears and that there flocks are under threat from one of our most spectacular birds of prey.

Now for some truth, the Golden Eagle is more than capable of carrying and even killing a lamb but this photo does not prove whether the lamb was killed by this eagle. Eagles will feed on a variety of prey species including carrion and if the oppourtunity arises will make up a large part of there diet during the hard winter months. If anyone has ever seen a ewe around her lamb they may be aware how protective they are certainly towards predators. I'm sure there are many more factors that affect a hill farmers livestock before an eagle comes along, my view is that this lamb had probably died from other causes and the eagle took an easy meal which is what will happen more commonly on the hillside.

We have to remember the persecution birds of prey have suffered at the hands of ill informed people and the hard work and money put into helping educate and bring these birds back to our skies. An article like this with its one sided quotes/opinions and muddled facts only undoes the hard work done to help these birds.

I have been in touch with the Mail on Sunday with my views and thoughts on the article, if I get a reply I will publish it on the blog.

Take a look at the article below.