Six dead buzzards in Aberdeen: an update

keystone-copsLast week we blogged about the apparent discovery of ‘six dead buzzards’ that had been found in a field in Aberdeenshire (see here).

Almost a week later, and after “extensive inquiries” and an examination of the bodies by experts…..it turns out they weren’t six dead buzzards after all. They weren’t even raptors! (We don’t know what they actually were – their identity hasn’t been revealed).

For God’s sake. It’s reminiscent of the “six skinned badgers” story that emerged earlier this year. They turned out to be the remains of roe deer (see here).

Doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?

STV news article here

UPDATE 10/10/14: According to the P&J, these carcasses were turkeys or chickens! You couldn’t make this up! See here.


21 Responses to “Six dead buzzards in Aberdeen: an update”

  1. 1 Helen Ireland
    October 9, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    who is giving a ID on these birds, dear me , words fail me

  2. 2 keen birder.
    October 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    That is good news for a change. Just shows don’t believe all you hear or jump to conclusions, it certainly does not inspire any confidence in who ever first reported it.

  3. 3 George Murdoch
    October 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Well, well, what can I say? It’s good to hear that the birds were not buzzards or any other kind of raptor. Given the source of the information and the previous history of the NE then it was inevitable that there would be speculation. Lets hope they make public some of the expert analysis so we can begin to understand what went on .. or is that, what went wrong?

  4. 5 Tony Warburton MBE
    October 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    There’s only one comment which can be made, i.e. “God help us”! Your photo says all that needs to be said.

  5. 6 Marco McGinty
    October 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Goshawks? Sparrowhawks? Tawny Owls? Kestrels? Utterly useless investigative techniques? Cover up?

  6. October 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Another perfect example of why you need RSPB and SSPCA involved in wildlife crime investigation…I presume the mistake here was made by police?…we must have saved a large amount of police time and money..and red faces…back when it was normal to be asked to help….pathetic.

  7. 8 nirofo
    October 10, 2014 at 12:51 am

    I seem to have heard the phrase “NOT FIT FOR PUPOSE” somewhere, I would say this is a phrase that just about sums up this latest escapade from Scotland’s finest. How can you mistake a Buzzard for anything else, I would have thought that almost any 10 year old schoolboy would be able to tell them ???

    It’s high time they left it up to the professionals at SSPCA.

  8. 9 Marco McGinty
    October 10, 2014 at 1:46 am

    The farmer’s comment in the Press and Journal is quite interesting in itself. He states;

    “We knew they weren’t buzzards because you could stand there all week and you wouldn’t be able to shoot six buzzards.”

    We’re forever being told that Buzzards are at plague proportions, and they are wilfully wiping out other forms of wildlife, so is this evidence that persecution is occurring in this area?

  9. 10 sh23363
    October 10, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Let’s be positive – someone took the trouble to report it. Let’s not say anything that reduces the chances of incidents being reported. What if it HAD been six dead buzzards and the finder lacked confidence to speak to the Police?

  10. 11 Stewart Abbott
    October 10, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Surely we still need to know how these birds died? If poisoned could have easily have been raptors.

  11. 12 bend and drve
    October 10, 2014 at 9:12 am

    where did they take them to be identified……….Tesco?

  12. 13 secret shooter
    October 10, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Looking at the press reports it seems that this find was of badly decomposed bodies, possibly just bones, does this provide some explanation as to the incorrect identification? Fortunately the remains were looked at more closely with the possibility of raptor persecution being discounted. Good investigative practice for the Police to seek confirmation of initial views.
    We hear much about the need for the Police to be open about these matters and I often read criticism around appeals for information made some time after events come to Police notice. In this case Police Scotland seem to have taken heed of such criticism and have gone to press as early as possible. In the event they seemed to have acted rather too quickly and will I suspect be less inclined to make immediate press releases. It seems to me that the Police are to be criticised by some no matter what they do.
    Just a thought, what comments would have been made if the Police had visited the site and written the find off as being chickens when they did in fact turn out to be buzzards? Looking at the scene was it unreasonable for the Police to fear the worst? It seems rather bizarre to find a number of dead chickens in a field and this might go some way to explaining why the officers thoughts turned to raptor persecution.
    The press report makes mention of number of suspects being fingerprinted and DNA tested. Evidence of a serious approach to the investigation, but no credit given for this? Well done Police Scotland. Can somebody explain how the SSPCA or the RSPB could do this?
    Police Scotland I think will have red faces over this matter, they do not need to be hammered for it, better to have an honest error than to have inaction.

    • October 10, 2014 at 10:20 am

      The criticism of the police handling of this investigation is not that they didn’t act. They did respond, very quickly, as they should for all suspected wildlife crime. The criticism is focused on two issues:

      1. That they couldn’t tell the difference between chickens and raptors. If it was just bones they found, why did they put out a press statement claiming they’d found six dead buzzards? Why didn’t they say ‘animal remains’ if they weren’t sure of the species’ identities?

      2. The press statement was put out the day after the [chickens] were found and BEFORE a search had been undertaken. That is a massive and basic error – it’s exactly what they did at Conon Bridge. Just suppose they had found six dead buzzards, or indeed six chickens laced with poison that had been placed out as bait. By alerting everyone the very next day, without having conducted a proper search, the would-be poisoner would have been given plenty of opportunity to hide any further evidence that might link him/her to the crime.

      The police deserve the continued criticism they get about their investigations. There are very, very few instances when they seem to get it right. They either (a) don’t bother to investigate; (b) investigate several months after the incident has been reported; (c) go to press too early; (d) go to press too late; (e) don’t go to press at all.

      Had they been ‘partnership-working’ in this case, they would have had specialist investigators on scene with them who undoubtedly would have been able to tell the difference between chickens and raptors. It seems, from the press reports, that they went it alone, yet again, and messed it up, yet again.

  13. October 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

    For a minute I thought that I’d overslept this morning and woke up on April 1st. What a total embarrassment for all those people involved in the initial identification and reporting!!!!

  14. 16 secret shooter
    October 10, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Why is it an embarrassment for whoever reported the matter? I have no more knowledge about the case that is set out here but it seems quite possible that the remains were simply found by a member of the public (maybe a birder) who reported what he considered to be suspicious circumstances to the Police. Well done to that person, they should not be castigated for doing so. Given some of the comments here how likely is it that this person will report any other circumstances that he feels are suspicious.
    So who are these specialist investigators who can provide on scene identification? How many are there in Scotland? Should the initial Police response have been delayed until such a person was available? Given the criticism I assume that you know that somebody had been available but were not contacted? If you do not know this then surely the criticism is uninformed. Surely better to go out and gather the evidence immediately rather than wait for a specialist to be available? As has been shown it can then be viewed by somebody with the knowledge to come up with an informed view.
    It is interesting to note that the view that the scene of all wildlife crime should be attended very quickly. Every Police force has policies relating to call grading and immediate attendance will only apply if an offence is in progress or a delay might result in loss of evidence. Those rules will apply to wildlife crime and I think it is very unlikely that all wildlife crime will fall into such criteria. We may not like this position but I have not seen anything on this site to show that the Chief Constable is being pressurised to move such matters up the Policing agenda.
    I have made clear that in my view Police Scotland will be embarrassed about this. But why do you want to crucify them for a mistake. I wonder how inclined the officers involved will be about working with the raptor community in future? You raise a very valid point if the press release was indeed put out before the evidence was recovered. On the other hand you have chosen not to pick up on the point that the suspects were fingerprinted and dna’d and give credit for that.

    • October 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      As someone who spent literally years training police and government officials in the handling of alleged wildlife crimes..I find this “case” sad and deeply annoying. To me the biggest fault here is in publicising the alleged crime before its been properly analysed and evaluated. That’s basic policing – would it have occurred in a drugs bust?…”police today recovered £5 million pounds worth of an unidentified white powder”??!………No one here is criticising the initial informant…if they have been upset by our criticism on this forum or elsewhere thats down to whoever made the daft decision to publicise it.

    • October 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      Ah yes, full marks to Police Scotland for actually turning up at a suspected wildlife crime scene. That is, after all, what they’re paid to do. Cue slow hand clap. Unfortunately, it’s the ONLY aspect of this investigation that they got right (and only then partly right – no evidence of partnership working whatsoever).

      You think they deserve credit for fingerprinting and taking the DNA of the ‘suspects’ in this non-crime? I’m pretty sure those ‘suspects’ will not be very impressed and will be asking for those samples to be removed from the police records as we speak.

      You’re right about one thing though – the person who found and reported what they thought could be a wildlife crime scene does not deserve to be castigated, at all. They did exactly the right thing.

      Your views on the police, and your continual defence of their ‘actions’ is quite telling. It’s almost as if you have a connection with them….

  15. 19 cupid stunt
    October 10, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    If the police did fingerprint and obtain DNA any potential suspects in this case ( I for one doubt they have) on what reasonable grounds did they have to do so.

    Why should the police or any organisation be beyond criticism, its attitudes like than Secret Shooter that have contributed to the public losing confidence in the ability of the police to investigate wildlife crime.

    lessons to be learned hear;

    Value of partnership working ( even if the remains were just bones , raptor skulls are readily identifiable)

    Given past history don’t expect sympathy when you screw up

    Don’t go to press prior to a proper investigation

    Badgers don’t have antlers and hoofs

    Don’t count your chickens……….etc

  16. 20 Pip
    October 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    “Your views on the police, and your continual defence of their ‘actions’ is quite telling. It’s almost as if you have a connection with them” That was an unworthy comment.

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