Birds of prey celebrated at the Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s birds of prey were celebrated at the Scottish Parliament last night during a reception for the Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG), hosted by Andy Wightman MSP (Golden Eagle Species Champion).

[Andy Wightman MSP with Logan Steele, Communications Secretary SRSG. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

In addition to a number of cross-party MSPs, approx 50 guests attended the SRSG’s first ever parliamentary reception, representing a wide number of interests. These included the National Parks, Forestry & Land Scotland, Argaty Red Kites, SNH, Scottish Government, RSPB, South Scotland Golden Eagle Project, Mull Eagle Watch, National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Environment LINK, Wild Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and a number of SRSG members.

There were speeches from Andy and Logan and an especially heart-felt talk from Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon who enthused about the opportunities she’d had to see hen harriers (she’s the HH Species Champion) in the company of Scottish Raptor Study Group fieldworkers.

[Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Mairi spoke of her appreciation of the work of the SRSG and its hugely important contribution to the wider scientific literature, as well as the ground-breaking research involving satellite tagging and the subsequent report on the fate of satellite-tagged golden eagles, which revealed the extent of on-going illegal persecution in some grouse moor areas of Scotland. She was well aware of the on-going persecution issue, and referenced yesterday’s news of hen harrier Skylar’s disappearance next to a grouse moor near Leadhills. Tackling persecution was certainly on her agenda and she said she was looking forward to reading the recommendations of the forthcoming Werritty Review (due out this summer).

The reception was wrapped up with a stunning presentation from highly acclaimed wildlife photographer Laurie Campbell, who shared some of his images and told tales about the extraordinary lengths he’d had to go to to get them.

Many thanks to Andy Wightman for hosting this event and well done Logan and his team for putting in the work to organise such an enjoyable celebration.

Many of the attending MSPs, including the Environment Minister, already had a good understanding and appreciation of these species, having taken the time to attend SRSG conferences, Hen Harrier Day events and field visits.

Could we say the same of Westminster parliamentarians? Could anyone imagine Therese Coffey standing up to deliver a speech about her appreciation of birds of prey and her determination to tackle the ongoing persecution of these birds?

12 Responses to “Birds of prey celebrated at the Scottish Parliament”

  1. 1 Michael Cropper
    May 8, 2019 at 8:45 am

    About time something was done about grouse shooting too. That’s where the culling of rapters begins.

  2. 2 Les Wallace
    May 8, 2019 at 9:35 am

    This is fantastic! What a breath of fresh air after years of seeing the SGA and SLE posting about their parliamentary receptions and presentations at Holyrood, absolutely stomach churning knowing the utter crap and the incessant playing of the victim card that was going on at them – straight to MSPs. Really hope there’s so much more of the SRSG and others getting in there to counter the propaganda that driven grouse shooting is good for both conservation and rural economies when the exact opposite is true, giving the tweed knuckle draggers the boot. Very well done and big thanks to everyone involved, especially to Logan for being the prime organizer.

  3. 3 Dougie
    May 8, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Words, words, words and more words. We have had words for eons and the result is that the killing goes on as does the failure to prosecute and/or adequately punish the overwhelming majority of the criminal scum.

    Action that yields results is all that matters. Not much of that about !

    • 4 Tim Dixon
      May 8, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      Thankfully Dougie some of us understand the power of words as opposed to keen-jerk rhetoric, which generally is not helpful in changing opinions. It’s only when sufficient opinion has been changed that political action will follow.

  4. 5 Ernie Scales
    May 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Totally at odds with the letter published in May’s BBC Wildlife magazine from Tim Baynes, Scottish Land and Estates Moorland Group; final paragraph reads ‘The killing of raptors on Scottish grouse moors now looks like yesterday’s problem and we should be able to look forward to a new era of collaboration, but it needs a positive approach all round to sustain progress.’ Hopefully, Mairi isn’t listening to that sort of drivel.

  5. 6 Nigel Raby
    May 8, 2019 at 11:12 am

    It all sounds great, BUT will anything change?

    • 7 Dougie
      May 8, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      I do not think so. All the talking, meetings, presentations, receptions keep a lot of people suckered into believing that progress is being made (that is how politicians and large organisations work). However, endless decade after decade the criminals carry on with impunity. They love all the talking because they know they have nothing to fear.

    • May 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Maybe not but it certainly will hinder or stop changes in the opposite direction so absolutely great work!

    • 9 Fight for Fairness
      May 11, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      Please have faith in the Scottish government. Things will change for the better, especially if groups like RPUK, Wild Justice and Revive are setting the agenda. My prediction is that mountain hares will get statutory protection in the near future and licencing of grouse moors will not be that far behind. There is a difference between politicians south of the border, whose sound bites cover up lies and delays, and the Green/SNP alliance that rules Holyrood, whose consistency and compassion I do not question.

  6. 10 Barney
    May 8, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Who mentioned the Westminster rabble, they are the problem and will never be the answer , while they are in power nothing will change in England because they have vested interest. The sooner that lot are out the better then perhaps we can follow what Scotland are doing

  7. May 8, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    The political lobbying is really paying off, its a long game but its good to see an understanding of the issues starting to embed in the decision makers. Please keep up the good work… do you need a crowd funder to help sustain the effort?

    The other benefit is seeing the reaction of the swivel-eyed flat earth brigade! More froth than an Atlantic storm.

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