25
Apr
15

Henry’s Tour: Day 19

Fri 24 April Copy

Henry went for a skydance across the lawns of Holkham Hall in north Norfolk.

This place is home to Viscount Coke, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of that well-known raptor-loving organisation Songbird Survival.

In 2000, a Holkham Estate gamekeeper was prosecuted for 17 offences including the shooting of two kestrels and the poisoning of a third. He kept his job on the estate. Case write-up here.

In 2009, a dead buzzard was found at Holkham. It had been shot. The Holkham Estate put up a £500 reward for information leading to a conviction, as did the RSPB. Nobody was ever prosecuted.

Henry didn’t see any female hen harriers during his visit but he did watch a buzzard and three red kites. One kite had what some would call the ‘Malta Moult’ – a large hole blown through the feathers of one wing.

Henry thought it was time to get out of Norfolk but not before he called in for tea and cake with the legendary Richard Porter, author of the 1974 classic Flight Identification of European Raptors. More recently, Richard’s studies on the local buzzard population helped to convict Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert. Lambert had claimed that the ten poisoned buzzards found on the Stody Estate had been killed elsewhere and then ‘dumped’ on his estate in an attempt to set him up. His defence was to claim that they couldn’t possibly have been poisoned at Stody because there weren’t that many local buzzards to start with. He hadn’t banked on the evidence of one of the world’s leading raptor ID experts, who had recorded 233 buzzard sightings and had counted 73 pairs. Oops.

Thurs 23 April  Copy

 

25
Apr
15

Mis-use of crow traps (again)

This week’s Landward programme featured a section on the (mis)-use of crow traps, quite often used by gamekeepers to target birds of prey.

The programme featured Hugo Straker from the GWCT and Ian Thomson from RSPB Scotland Investigations. It didn’t cover any new ground, mainly because the same old problems that have existed for years with the mis-use of these traps, still exist.

Cage_trap_-_geograph_org_uk_-_228006

Here’s some stuff we wrote about crow cage traps three years ago. It was based on material that the RSPB and OneKind had produced years before that. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that SNH has still not addressed many of these issues:

https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/crow-traps-what-you-should-know-part1/

https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/crow-traps-what-you-should-know-part-2/

https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/crow-traps-what-you-should-know-part-3/

The Landward programme is available on BBC iPlayer for 29 days: HERE (starts at 08.21).

21
Apr
15

Henry’s Tour: Day 18

Tues 21 April Copy

Henry’s back in Norfolk. If he follows that sign to its destination he may never get out of Norfolk alive.

Wonder whether, six months after the conviction of gamekeeper Allen Lambert, the Rural Payments Agency has made a decision yet on whether the illegal poisoning of 11 raptors merits a subsidy withdrawal for the minted Stody Estate?

20
Apr
15

Traditional sporting estates ‘outdated & ludicrous’

Dick Balharry pic from the timesTraditional sporting estates embody the selfish greed of a Victorian era, outdated and ludicrous“, said leading conservationist Dick Balharry during his recent acceptance speech for the RSG’s Geddes Medal.

Quite.

There’s a good write up on this on Rob Edwards’ website here.

20
Apr
15

Henry’s Tour: Day 17

IMG_4813 (2) - Copy

Henry’s been in the NW of England where he went to visit young Findlay Wilde, a seasoned Hen Harrier campaigner even though he’s only just turned 13.

Read about the trip on Fin’s excellent blog here

#HaveYouSeenHenry

17
Apr
15

White-tailed eagle found poisoned on nest

WTEpoisoned Connemara April 2015

Press release from Golden Eagle Trust:

A White-tailed Eagle has been found dead in its nest at Connemara in south-west Ireland. The six year old female eagle was discovered on 1st April by Conservation Ranger Dermot Breen and recovered by a team from the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 2nd April. Subsequent post-mortem at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Athlone and toxicology analysis at the State Laboratory, Celbridge revealed the bird had been poisoned.

The female White-tailed Eagle was released in Killarney National Park in 2009 as part of a reintroduction programme for the species managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service. The female eagle settled in the Roundstone area of Connemara in 2012 where she paired up with a male. In 2014 the pair laid eggs at a nest in a remote site but the eggs failed to hatch chicks successfully. Both birds were on the point of nesting again this year at the same nest when tragedy struck. Indeed the post-mortem found the female to contain two developing eggs, so this female was within a few days of laying eggs.

The loss of this breeding female comes as a serious blow to the reintroduction project. White-tailed Eagles reach maturity and begin breeding at about 5 years of age. Seven pairs laid eggs in nests in the wild in 2014, with one nest near Mountshannon, Co. Clare, successfully fledging chicks in 2013 and 2014. It was hoped that the Connemara pair would be one of a number of successful nests in Ireland in 2015. The loss of a breeding adult has been found to lead to the desertion of breeding sites with potentially serious implications for the long-term viability of the reintroduced population.

This is the 13th confirmed poisoning of a White-tailed Eagle in Ireland since the reintroduction project began in 2007. The use of poisons to control foxes and crows has been banned since 2010 but the illegal use of such substances remains a huge threat to wildlife including birds of prey which consume carrion. Over the five years of the release phase of the project 100 young eagles were collected from nests in Norway and released in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. Thirty one of the released eagles have since been recovered dead with illegal poisoning by far and away the greatest threat to the recovery of this once native eagle to Ireland. Despite these losses the number of pairs in the wild rose to 14 in 2014 with most birds now mature enough to breed.

This is a very disheartening incident as the killing of this breeding female has effectively put an end to any breeding attempt of this incredible species in West Galway for at least another five years” said NPWS Conservation ranger Dermot Breen. “To see the female lying dead on her nest was a very sad and sickening sight especially with the knowledge that she would have been due to lay two eggs. Historically up to 14 pairs were known to have bred in the Connemara region up 1838. Connemara lost its White-tailed Eagles shortly after this with the introduction of poison. It’s deeply frustrating to see history repeating itself. I’ve encountered no negative feedback from any local farmers with regard to the presence of the eagles over the last three years. Many landowners would ask how the eagles were doing and would tell me if they had been lucky enough to see them in the locality. The loss of this female is also a great loss to tourism in the area. Connemara is world renowned for being an area of unspoilt beauty. Unfortunately this illegal and irresponsible action is likely to tarnish Connemara’s green image, an area that relies heavily on tourism”.

Although all losses impact the project, the loss of this female is very difficult to take”, said Dr Allan Mee, Project Manager with the Golden Eagle Trust. “She and her mate had been resident in Connemara for the last four years and it was only a matter of time before they produced chicks. It is likely the nest site they chose had been used by White-tailed Eagles in historical times, so losing this pair is devastating. Although the male may remain on his territory for some time, to date we have found that the loss of a breeding adult results in birds deserting the area and remaining some years before they find a mate again. The female’s mate is one of our satellite tagged eagles (male Star) who has travelled the length and breadth of Ireland several times before settling in Connemara. It’s tragic to see him lose his mate just on the point of nesting”.

Over the years we have endured too many losses to illegal and indiscriminate poisoning. We have tried to address this by raising awareness both of the law and the threat posed by poisons to wildlife and farm dogs. While we believe our awareness efforts have been productive it is clear that some individuals are still resorting to using poisons on meat baits such as dead livestock. While their target may be foxes and crows we know to our cost the devastation this causes to our rare and protected birds of prey. We have to continue to get the word out there that this practice is no longer acceptable. We hope that all farmers and farming organisations will rightly condemn this practice which has no place in today’s supposedly more enlightened environment”.

IMAGE COPYRIGHT: DERMOT BREEN, NPWS

16
Apr
15

Another year, another interesting SGA donor

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s quarterly rag (Spring 2015) arrived on the doormat a couple of weeks ago. We always enjoy reading it to find out what these doyens of the wildlife-crime-fighting world have been up to in their crusade against the illegal persecution of raptors.

As in previous editions, there’s a list of generous donors. One caught our eye:

SGA donation Edradynate 2015 - Copy

Surely not the same Edradynate that we blogged about last year when another Mr Campbell (MDCC Campbell that time) donated a hefty sum (see here)?

How interesting.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 851 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 1,329,973 hits

our recent blog visitors