Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Introducing a friend!

If some of you have been on my long list of websites on right hand column of the blog you might have come across a friend of mine and his website, if not then let me introduce you to him. Allen Holmes is a freelance wildlife photographer and artist but he does all this in his own time not as a profession. He is based in Rotherham and when he's not working shifts he's out around his local areas getting some cracking images of our natural world, he has also been known to travel a bit further than Rotherham!

I had the pleasure of meeting Allen in 2009 whilst taking part in a BBC production out in Africa, he's one of those unassuming guys that has one of the nicest sense of humours you will meet. He told some of the worst jokes I have heard but somehow made them funny! Thankfully his photography is top notch and when you see his artwork well it could bring tears to your eyes I think it is that good.

I bet you want to see some photos don't you! Sometime ago Allen sent me some images of raptors he had photographed on his outings so below I will share some with you.

There are several more of these and many other species on the his website, but more recently he was lucky enough to get his best shots of an Osprey and it was in his home town of Rotherham.

I got in touch with Roy Dennis and he informed me that this was a male bird rung in Contin, Easter Ross on July 15th 2009. The bird was identified by his blue leg ring.

Finally if you thought his photography was good I personally think I have saved the best till last from Allen, as an artist he is incredibly talented and below is an example!

 Now all I need to do is give you his webpage so you can enjoy his work as much as I do

(Please note all the above images are copyright to Allen Holmes Photography and must only be used with Allens Permission, please respect this!)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Beating the Buzzards???

I thought I would let the dust settle before I blogged about recent defra plans to find a solution between Common Buzzards Buteo buteo and Pheasants released for game shooting.

Firstly I attach a link via the raptor persecution scotland blog

If you have read that and everyone elses views then I have no doubt you will have made up your own minds and thoughts on the prospect of managing buzzards to help aid game shooting and a non native species but below my thoughts on the topic.

The majority of pieces I have read have jumped straight to the mention of destroying buzzard nests and potentially the birds themselves but I think we need to understand it from the start. What Defra have done is become the main sponsor of a study into the effects the Common Buzzard is having on Pheasants and the shooting industry and the first word that jumped out to me is SPONSOR.

Basically this means our government are stumping up the British taxpayers money thought to be in the region of £400,000 to pay for this study to be carried out. I for one think it is wrong for a government organisation to be spending a large amount of tax payers money on 1) a commercial enterprise(s) 2) Something that has very little effect on society. Surely if the shooting fraternity were so concerned about the subject their organisations would fund this, but then maybe they did the clever thing realising how soft our government organisations are .

Secondly what effects do buzzards really have on what is largely an unnatural managed enterprise? Their is no doubting that the population of buzzards have risen dramatically in the last 20 years but lets not forget that is because man and mainly the shooting industry pushed this bird into very small pockets of Britain. If this was a celebrity we would be so proud of how well they have bounced back, but when we attach the same emotions to nature things get misunderstood. The buzzard is a survivor like any other wild animal and pheasants make up part of its food chain, can you blame it when it is thought 40million game birds are released each year. I have spoken to several game shooters and gamekeepers over the years and they tend to fall into two catergories, those who are dead against any thing other than a clients gun taking one of their birds and those who realise that predators are part of the bigger picture and if protected must be accepted.

I accept that shooting is part of our rural heritage, brings in large amounts of money and provides jobs within rural communities and can have positive effects on conservation and biodiversity but I can't accept that this allows them to decide when we can intefere with another species biodiversity. People can argue that we need to address the balance but how can that be used when 40million non-native species are released.

Now as for the management techniques that Defra have suggested I think the only one worth looking at is adding more cover for game birds, I sometimes wonder what some keepers do to protect their game legally, I know of one keeper who waits for his birds to feed for 20 or so minutes, he admits buzzards will kill his poults but he only really has an issue for the first couple of weeks then the game soon gets wise. Survival of the fittest surely and I'm sure shooting parties want the best sport meaning the fittest birds. Removal of Buzzards will never work as birds would just repopulate as the food supply will remain the same. Culling birds won't work again as the same above will happen and how many buzzards would need to be culled, surely we would be stepping back 20 years and would it stop just their, how many raptors might get persecuted by mistake?

Back in 1981 we came up with laws to protect our wildlife so should we really be bending these to suit the needs of commercial activities? Especially as this government announced they would  be the greenest to date! The only way I see this being resolved is if we respect our natural wildlife and work together to protect everyones interests! Trying to man handle nature will never work!

Sunday, 20 May 2012


I didn't realise how time consuming maintaining a blog would be and I must apologise for my lack of blogging. The world of birds of prey is still very active especially as here in the UK most birds of prey with be incubating eggs or rearing young. The Ospreys have returned breeding and that includes the amazing Lady of Loch Lowes possibly the oldest breeding Osprey!

Web cams and tracking has never been more popular with the chance to view a whole host of birds of prey on nest sites and also follow the journeys the birds take. You can find some of these web cams in the website links page just scroll down.

Bird of prey persecution is still a problem in the UK and this has included another Goshawk being targetted and English Hen Harriers presumed to be down to one breeding pair. Sadly in my opinion when the perpetraitors are caught the sentences they are given are little deterrant. So we could see the first extinction of a breeding bird in England for some time!

Some new websites being added to the website links page are listed below - The Barn owl conservation network - Welsh Kite Trust -  Predatory bird monitoring scheme -Simon Kings Wildlife Whisperer site - Save the falcons

I'm hoping to update the bird of the month page and also add some new stuff to the site including a video page with some ID tips. I am also in the process of setting up a new fund for birds of prey to raise money for a variety of different conservation projects globally with an interactive map to help you see where money will be going! Also I will be announcing my first bird of prey related fundraising challenge, its going to be a tough one! Watch this space for the webpage coming soon!

In the mean time why not get yourself down to and see their birds up close and personal, they are about to celebrate their 45th birthday! Congratulations Jemima and the team!