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!