Peregrine shot & killed in Belper, Derbyshire, again

For the second time in recent years, a peregrine falcon has been illegally shot in Belper, Derbyshire.

Yesterday (5 March 2020) Derbyshire Wildlife Trust issued the following statement:

Yesterday morning [4 March 2020], a male peregrine falcon was spotted injured at Belper’s East Mill in Derbyshire and taken by a local resident to a vets in Ashboune where a single shotgun pellet was removed.  A second pellet will be removed later today and the bird continues to be monitored. 

[The Belper male, photo by Terry Walmsley]

East Mill is a very well-known location for breeding  peregrines – the stunning views of the birds and easy accessibility make it one of the most popular places in the UK to watch them. 

Tim Birch, Director of Nature Recovery at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said; “This is appalling news – the Belper peregrines are famous, it’s one of the best places to watch and enjoy these amazing birds as they fly at top speed, perform acrobatic aerial displays and  raise their young high on the ledges of the Mill building. They are a huge draw for people and it’s shocking that anyone wants to harm them. Thanks to the quick response by a local resident and the vets, we are hopeful that this bird will recover.”

“Derbyshire sadly continues to see some of the UK’s highest levels of bird of prey persecution. We encourage anyone with any information about this or any wildlife or suspected wildlife crime to please contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.”  

The bird is about four years old and was ringed in Dorset. Without the support of the male at the start of the breeding season, any attempts to nest this year could sadly fail.


This morning we were informed that the peregrine died at the vet’s last night, unable to survive surgery to remove the pellet lodged in his breast.

This isn’t the first time the breeding pair at Belper have been attacked. In March 2015 the body of the adult male was found dead on the doorstep of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s HQ in Belper. A post mortem revealed he had been shot (see here).

25 Responses to “Peregrine shot & killed in Belper, Derbyshire, again”

  1. March 6, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Looks like the season has started again [for killing raptors] or did it ever end.

  2. 2 Paul V Irving
    March 6, 2020 at 8:42 am

    All of the shotgun certificate holders in the area should have their certificates suspended if the possess the size of shot used to kill this bird. When the culprit is caught the other certificates can be reinstated. Well it won’t happen but it should.

    • 3 Pip
      March 6, 2020 at 9:35 am

      It might be someone in the area – or it might not. It might be an Italian shooting tourist (they’re notorious round here) or it might not. It might be someone with no certificate at all ……or it might not. I know nothing about shotguns but I would have thought that owners would all have different size shot, kinda like fishermen have a selection of hooks -or not. However dispicable the crime evidence is needed before punishment is awarded and then only after conviction – whether we like it or not.

      • 4 Paul V Irving
        March 6, 2020 at 9:59 am

        Shotgun owners run severe risks if their guns are unlicensed including jail time. They tend to only have the shot size(s) suited to the game they shoot. Suspension of certificate is not punishment unless permanent which is not what I am proposing, it won’t happen anyway and shooting tourists are surely only present in the shooting season and this was obviously done by some oaf who knew about these peregrines well enough to know where to get a shot from without getting caught.

    • 5 Simon Tucker
      March 6, 2020 at 11:05 am

      Totally agree. The rampant criminality of the shooters and the inability of the police to secure evidence and convictions requires drastic measures, until such time as individual shot batches and registered users can be identified. Wherever and whenever a protected bird is killed by these criminals it should inconvenience the entire local shooting community for a decent period of time. They might then be moved to do something about the criminals in their midst.

      Shotgun licence costs should be increased to a level that would fund full time raptor persecution units in the police, akin to that of the RSPB, but with the statutory powers of the police. We might then see some timely interventions and admissible covert surveillance.

  3. 6 Secret Squirrel
    March 6, 2020 at 10:08 am

    This one seems slightly different to other persecution incidents – not least the repetition of what happened 5 years ago. The location is on the edge of a town, so I would have though a shot gun firing would be noticeable.


  4. 7 AndyH
    March 6, 2020 at 11:12 am

    No grouse moors in the area of Belper as far as I can spy on G’Earth.
    I imagine there being a fair few pigeon fanciers, Derbyshire being a former coal mining area.

    Just a quick look on the ‘Pigeon World’ forum and I see a quote on a post about a tv programme on Peregrines;

    “…they are impressive birds and I don’t hate them at all what I hate is the meddlers with nature putting up nesting sites in the cities especially churches they are the worst hypocrites spouting peace and love when the killing machine is ripping its kill and leaving the debris above on the church spire I always thought the dove was the bird of peace…”.

    And another discussion about the news of a pair of Peregrines found dead, suspected poisoning;

    “Anyone see Spring watch tonight, said they had found 2 adult peregrine falcons dead with a pigeon close to them, all birds have been sent for toxicology tests”.

    the reply being

    “Not seen it lofty, but sounds like a poisoned meal…Wink Wink (emoticons)” and “Two less of the bastards to worry about though eh………….. cheers cheers lol! lol! lol! (emoticons)”.

    • 8 Paul V Irving
      March 6, 2020 at 1:30 pm

      Its why I have little sympathy for the pigeon brigade and think that if a fancier is successfully prosecuted for killing Peregrines and/or Sparrowhawks they should be banned from keeping pigeons for life.
      I don’t know why but even as a life long birder I have never liked the domestic pigeon, may have something to do with the fact that as a child I was bullied by a bloody pigeon keeper.

    • 9 Secret Squirrel
      March 6, 2020 at 5:41 pm

      I do note that the building is due for redevelopment

    • 10 Iain Gibson
      March 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm

      What does “lol” mean? – lots of love, or laugh out loud? I presume the latter in this instance. Personally, I thought the local RSG ringers and the local ringing group were on top as far as prevention was concerned, but I’m now suspecting that the Peregrine persecution is becoming more active again. Killing harriers also seems to have become more popular amongst the rougher elements (including gamekeepers). Is it safe to assume there is quite a backlash by the shooting community in certain areas, caused by RPUK and partially by RSPB? I’d say it is, but fully support both bodies in their campaigns against the illegal “control” of avian predators, and other animals like our native Red Fox in horrendously excessive numbers. The fox, however, seems capable of producing replacements in time for similar numbers the following year, much to the pleasure of fox hunts and gamekeepers alike. I’m repeating myself, but I think a better ultimate aim for RPUK and RSPB should be to BAN ALL GROUSE SHOOTING rather than just DRIVEN grouse shooting. As a start I’d like to see all grouse moors, with breeding harriers present within the last 20 years (?) being given SPA status, which could kick off a retaliation against illegal killing, by making monitoring and conviction an easier action. Volunteer RPUK and RSPB members et al could become more persistent in monitoring, hopefully helped by local conservation and ornithological groups. Wishful thinking? I think it could happen, with coordinated action carefully planned to avoid disturbance of the birds. RPUK, Raptor Study Groups and RSPB Investigation Officers are already leading the way.

  5. 11 John
    March 6, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Pigeon fanciers worse nightmares.im a massive lover of birds of prey ESPECIALLY
    THE PEREGRINE FALCON. .to see 1 take its prey .out of the sky is amazing then drop it for its mate to catch in mid air it’s a way of life for these super birds .THE FASTEST BIRD IN THE WORLD.SO BEAUTIFUL TO WATCH. SAD FOR THE FANCIERS I KNOW BUT KILLS TO SURVIVE

  6. 12 ross
    March 6, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    This is not a countryman issue, no grouse in that area I believe and all other game bird seasons over I would look at pigeon fanciers, get your facts right then report the truth not speculation

    • March 6, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      Hi Ross,

      No idea what a “countryman issue” means but curious to know which facts in this blog post you think are ‘inaccurate and speculative’?

      You also seem to think that raptors are only shot during the game shooting season – I suggest you do some research!

  7. 14 Gerard
    March 6, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    It was at the mill when it was found, so was it likely it was shot in the vicinity? The nearest Moor to here is Beeley Moor (about 5 miles) which isn’t intensively managed for Grouse Shooting, for that you have to go nearly into Sheffield (10 miles) or to the West, North of Leek (15 miles). I photographed this bird last year on a rainy day, the female was flying round with two juveniles. Outrageous.

    • 15 Gerard
      March 6, 2020 at 6:47 pm

      What we have are dangerous criminals with guns at large in Derbyshire, I think an armed response unit should visit the next racing pigeon club meeting. If it’s not spreading poison it’s gunmen on the loose. Bloody wild west here. I think I might start highway robbery tomorrow cause anything goes in Derbyshire.

  8. 16 Keen birder,
    March 6, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Very bad news, see a comment about size of shot, commonest for game is no 6, there will be boxes and boxes of ammo, in possession and no way would this prove a thing, could be shot anywhere and flew a long way before coming down. Hope the hen gets a new mate. Theres some real idiots about. Peregrine wonderful bird RIP.

    • 17 Gerard
      March 6, 2020 at 6:49 pm

      I reckon that an x-ray spectrum of the shot could show up differences between batches. Derby University used to have a spectrometer.

      • 18 Gerard
        March 6, 2020 at 7:04 pm

        This is seriously worth looking into, someone needs to discuss this with forensic science service. I find it quite hard to believe that every batch of lead is identical. Even if it all originates from the same mine globally, most of it is likely to be alloy and all the other metals in the alloy will have characteristic x-ray signatures the magnitude of which should depend on how much of it is in the alloy. X-rays are good because they are high energy and you therefore only need a small sample for a good spectrum. Anyway you should identify your suspect, inform the local papers that they will be captured using a new analysis of the shot, then follow them until they throw the shot away. Then test it.

  9. 19 sennen bottalack
    March 6, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Very sad once again and of course may well have been shot miles away by any of the usual suspects, as this pair will hunt in a radius of many miles.
    Thankfully , as a northern nest site, early in March, a male will soon arrive hopefully and a pair will be formed again.
    The non breeding Peregrine population in the area must be large so the vacancy will not last long I suspect.
    Pigeon racing is, and has always been a very cruel sport .
    Imagine being forced to fly through dozens of Peregrine and Gos territories and the domains of all the non breeding raptors !?
    With many hundreds of thousands of large raptors [ breeders, non breeders and juveniles ] added to the UK and Ireland avifaunas since the lows of the 20th Century’s shooting, war culls and pesticide eras, we are winning the battle to see them back in their rightful places, so please don’t despair !
    Game shoots and to a much lesser extent, pigeon racing, remain as problems, albeit more localised, but just look at what we’ve achieved in 80 years !
    I started in raptor conservation in the 1970’s with no Peregrine, Kite, Harriers or Gos down south, low Golden eagle and Buzzard numbers, no White tailed eagle, tiny Osprey population and Sparrowhawk and Hobby still struggling with pesticide residues.
    These species are all now recovering well except Hen Harrier which faces a single identifiable problem on game shoots.
    I never thought we’d achieve such massive change so just keep bxxxxxing on !
    I nearly forgot the poor old Mont’s H that have now virtually gone because of a range of problems in Europe and Africa.
    And yes I’m still in raptor conservation, range expansion and research, and I’m very happy !
    All those Goshawks released and moved around were particularly good fun and have produced approaching 100,000 chicks in UK and Ireland in 50 + years.

    Keep up the pressure !

  10. 20 Huw Lewis
    March 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    It shocks me greatly that someone could shoot such a magnificent and majestic bird-yes the amazing Peregrine Falcon-the fastest animal on earth

    Who ever did this is obviously a coward as well as by definition, a common criminal-I would also wager that any person who shoots or indeed poisons a Peregrine has mental health issues and has a personality well within the sociopathic range

    It is sad that such dreadful individuals exist within our society but that is reality. It is up to us, the vast majority who are law abiding to do the best we can to help our Raptors and all OUR lovely wildlife from disgusting selfish individuals with bizzare beliefs. Whether the killer is a Pigeon Fancier, Grouse shooter or whatever-they need to be caught and punished -severely!

    Society has an important role to educate people and especially our younger generations to care and admire our wildlife–this is the way forwards. The Police and Judiciary as well as Government need to take this matter seriously also-to weed out these warped weirdo’s from society!

    • 21 WTF
      March 6, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      An excellent post from Huw, except for one point. It is not ‘OUR’ wildlife. These birds etc. are fellow sentient inhabitants of this planet. They do not belong to anyone – and this includes Red Grouse for that matter.

  11. 22 Phil Lavender
    March 7, 2020 at 5:05 am

    Just like that other pathetic wimp Tim Cowen who shot and stamped on two short eared owls. These psychos are rife and hide themselves amongst other psychos. AND they`ve all got guns!! IS the world fxxxxxx CRAZY?

  12. 23 Chris
    March 8, 2020 at 7:54 am

    It’s not like we humans have any more rights to live than the raptors.Leave them alone. Humans are despicable, shooting is a cowardly action. Hope the perpetrators are caught. ☹️

  13. 24 live nearby
    March 8, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Although people have commented about no grouse moors in immediate vicinity worth noting that plenty of pheasant shooting in the Amber Valley area. Often get our weekends disturbed by the guns (& see the occasional sanctuary seeking pheasant(s) ending up in our garden / nearby fields when shooting in full swing )

  14. March 11, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    A replacement male falcon has arrived at Belper and was photographed mating with the Falcon Wednesday morning 11-03-2020 @ 06:51 AM

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