Posts Tagged ‘peregrine

19
Jun
17

More distorted facts from Scottish Moorland Group Director Tim Baynes

We’ve all learned by now how Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group, likes to spin the facts; we only wrote about it last week (see here).

Here’s another well-spun article. We missed it when it was published in the Scottish Sporting Gazette (Summer 2016) but someone has kindly sent through. It’s classic Tim (Kim), pretending that illegal persecution is no longer an issue and also pretending that most conservationists (apart from us so-called ‘extremists’) now support the idea of some form of raptor ‘control’.

“The last few decades have seen a grinding controversy over birds of prey, with incidents of illegal killing linked to sporting estates often in the headlines. The good news is that the underlying situation is now hugely improved, but that has galvanised social commentators to try even harder to keep the controversy alive. Social media is their tool of choice, but the facts can become seriously distorted. The problem now is that all the positive work by land managers risks being derailed by a small number of committed activists, particularly those who are anti-grouse shooting.

The facts are that a number of long-term changes have come to fruition in the last five years. Scotland has pioneered new approaches, particularly through the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAWS) – of which Scottish Land & Estates and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association are committed members – with awareness training and tightening up of legal sanctions.

The Scottish Government now publishes official data on police-recorded persecution cases which enables national assessment of the problem each year, and that has shown a marked decline in bird of prey incidents – particularly poisoning, which is down to single figures. The police believe that wildlife crime generally is now under control and, for example, there have been no police-recorded raptor incidents in the whole Cairngorms National Park for the last two years. Recently, there have been as many reported cases of gamekeepers taking wounded birds of prey to the vet as there have been keepers being prosecuted!

Alongside this, most bird of prey numbers have increased all over Scotland, as evidenced by the BTO Bird Atlas, and on many sporting estates they are in rude health. An example is the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project where there are now 68 pairs of breeding raptors. There was a national census of golden eagles in 2015 which is expected to show an increase, and 2016 sees the latest national survey of hen harriers.

Three surveys of managed grouse moor estates in 2015 showed the presence of 10 raptor species, including breeding eagles and harriers. However, there is ongoing concern that these two Schedule 1 species could be doing better in some areas and Scottish Land & Estates are working closely with PAWS partners in two national initiatives – Heads Up for Harriers and the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.

With this background and the recent publication of the year-long scientific study ‘Understanding Predation’ by Scotland’s Moorland Forum, the real debate over birds of prey is now moving onto more positive territory, with focus on the ecological impacts, not just the incidents of persecution. It is now accepted that key prey species such as waders, black grouse, and grey partridges are in serious decline while some predators including buzzards and ravens have increased significantly. The project has fostered real cooperation among groups of stakeholders with traditionally opposing views, and it is hoped that the new Scottish Government will now back practical action to address this problem. It is now up to the extremists to give that cooperative approach their full support and not jeopardise progress”.

END

We could spend all day pointing out the spin in Tim’s (Kim’s) claims, such as there being no police-recorded raptor persecution incidents in the Cairngorms National Park for two years (not quite true – see here), or that there are more reported cases of gamekeepers taking wounded raptors to the vets than there are of gamekeepers being prosecuted, implying that gamekeepers are no longer committing alleged offences (not quite true – see here), or implying that eagles and harriers were successfully breeding on three surveyed grouse moor estates in 2015 (not quite true – see here), or that most bird of prey numbers have increased all over Scotland (not quite true – see here, here, and incidentally both these scientific papers were published before Tim (Kim) wrote this tripe), or implying that all stakeholders, with traditionally opposing views, are now supportive of backing what Tim (Kim) calls ‘positive action’ against raptors (what he means is licenced ‘control’) – again, this is not true. Name one conservation NGO that doesn’t have a vested interest in game shooting who supports this idea?

One year on from Tim’s (Kim’s) world of fantasy, and our so-called ‘extremist’ claims that illegal persecution is still rife on many driven grouse moors has been validated by the findings of the recently published golden eagle satellite tag review. It is now apparent even to the Scottish Government that illegal raptor persecution continues, albeit very well hidden (apart from if the targeted raptor victim happens to be wearing a satellite tag) and on the basis of this overwhelming evidence, we are finally set to see some action.

Thank goodness the policy makers haven’t listened to Tim’s (Kim’s) distorted point of view.

UPDATE 22 June 2017: Retired Police Wildlife Crime Officer Alan Stewart has blogged about this article here

18
Jun
17

Local volunteers patrolling peregrine nest sites in Forest of Dean

Following a spate of peregrine persecution incidents, the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has teamed up with local residents in the Forest of Dean to launch a protection scheme, including the installation of video cameras at nest sites and regular patrols to report any suspicious behaviour.

Full story on the GloucestershireLive website here

Very well done, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and those local volunteers.

Peregrine photo by Megan Lorenz

This local action comes after the suspicious death of three adult peregrines near the Devil’s Pulpit in the Forest of Dean earlier this spring (see here).

And last month, the Gloucester Wildlife Trust provided the Police with a video showing a man who appeared to have entered private land within the Forest of Dean and was throwing items at a peregrine nest site (see here). Police would like to speak to this individual:

07
Jun
17

3 orphaned peregrine chicks now fostered; one to become a Springwatch star

Over the weekend we blogged about the suspected poisoning of two adult peregrines at a quarry nest site in Clee Hill, Shropshire, leaving three vulnerable chicks in need of rescue (see here).

Thanks to the efforts of a team of experts from various organisations, the three rescued chicks have now been fostered into two wild nests. The two larger females have been placed on a nest ledge in the Midlands, and the smaller male has been fostered in to the nest on Salisbury Cathedral. The RSPB has an updated blog about the latest developments here.

Photo of the three rescued peregrine chicks (RSPB)

As many of you will know, this year’s breeding attempt by the resident Salisbury Cathedral peregrines has featured on the BBC’s Springwatch and tonight’s programme will show what happened when the young chick was introduced to his new foster family (BBC 2, 8pm).

Well done to all involved with the successful rescue of these peregrine chicks and thanks to BBC Springwatch for covering the story and bringing it, and thus illegal raptor persecution, to the attention of its 4 million viewers.

Clee Hill in Shropshire is a notorious site for the illegal poisoning of peregrines (e.g. see here). One local observer (@davebarnesphoto) has suggested that 11 peregrines have been killed at this nest in eight years. He also notes the area is a ‘pigeon racing hotspot’. Whoever killed the breeding pair this year will hopefully feel more than a little nervous as eight million eyes turn to scrutinise recent events at this site.

04
Jun
17

Pair of breeding peregrines suspected poisoned, 3 chicks rescued

A pair of breeding peregrines has been found dead at a quarry in Clee Hill, Shropshire, leaving three vulnerable chicks in the nest.

Thanks to the swift actions of the Shropshire Peregrine Group, the RSPB and others, the three chicks have been rescued and are currently receiving expert care from the amazing Jean Thorpe. It is hoped they will be placed in foster nests early next week.

RSPB Investigations Officer Tim Jones has written a blog about this case here

Clee Hill is a notorious blackspot for raptor persecution. Two peregrines were poisoned here in 2010, another was found poisoned in 2011 and another was found poisoned in 2015 (see here). Tests revealed all four had been illegally poisoned with Diazinon.

Photos from the latest incident (RSPB)

27
May
17

Peregrine found shot in Ninfield, East Sussex

Press statement from Sussex Police, 25 May 2017:

A protected peregrine falcon has been found shot in Ninfield, East Sussex, sparking an investigation by police and the RSPB.

The bird – a female – was discovered alive but injured by woods at Lunsford Cross on 10 May, and staff from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service were called to recover the bird.

An X-ray revealed a recent fracture to its right wing consistent with a shot injury. While undergoing examination, a further three shot gun pellets were discovered: two in the bird’s stomach and one in its left wing. These were considered historic and the vet concluded that the bird had also been shot at an earlier date.

The peregrine has undergone surgery and is recovering at the rescue centre.

Daryl Holter, Wildlife and Heritage Officer for Sussex Police, has urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

He said: “Peregrine falcons are a protected species under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is an offence to intentionally take, injure or kill a peregrine. To shoot it in this way was a vile and senseless act. Had the injured bird not been found it would almost certainly have faced a lingering death, possibly through starvation.”

Chris Riddington from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue said: “The bird is incredibly lucky to have been found and we are liaising with experts with regards to its care. It is still uncertain whether the fracture will heal, but our vets are happy with its progress. It’s hard to believe anyone would shoot a bird – but this is becoming far too common in today’s society. These birds are shot and left to suffer and we have to pick up the pieces.”

Jenny Shelton, RSPB investigations liaison officer, said: “It is appalling to hear that someone has shot a peregrine falcon – a bird which is already of conservation concern in the UK. Peregrines are magnificent, agile birds and will be breeding at this time of year, so taking out this young female may impact her chances of producing young this year.

This incident is part of an ongoing problem with raptor persecution in the UK. This is the fifth report of a peregrine with shotgun wounds we have received already this year, but as yet no-one has been brought to account. This, as most people would agree, is simply not acceptable.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, contact Sussex Police online, email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or phone 101, quoting serial 420 of 19/05. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you find a wild bird which you suspect has been illegally killed or harmed, contact police or RSPB investigations on 01767 680551, or fill in the online form here

25
May
17

Shot peregrine successfully rehabilitated & returned to wild

In March we blogged about the discovery of a shot peregrine that had been found in Hampshire (see here). This was a bird that had hatched from a nest ledge on Salisbury Cathedral in 2014.

Following the shooting in March, the peregrine, ‘Peter’, was taken to the Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover where he began a period of expert veterinary care and rehabilitation for a fractured wing caused by gunshot.

A few days ago, Peter was successfully released and returned to the wild. Fantastic work by all involved! The full story can be read on the Hawk Conservancy Trust website here.

The photo of Peter being released is by James Fisher.

15
May
17

Suspected peregrine nest robbery: NWCU appeals for info one year on

The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and Cheshire Police are appealing for information about a suspected peregrine nest robbery in May 2016.

The following press release was posted on the NWCU website yesterday:

Peregrine falcons have regularly nested on property owned by Railtrack at Dutton Viaduct in Cheshire.  However, nesting attempts have failed for 9 successive years.  Human interference has been suspected on a number of occasions.

Overnight 1st to the 2nd May 2016 (please note this is 2016) the nest failed.  On this occasion, the images of three men were captured on a trail camera that had been placed on land owned by Railtrack near to the nest.  In the early hours of the morning of 2nd May 2016 the three men were pictured heading up towards the nest site.  A short time later the same men triggered the camera as they headed back down the same route.

There is no public right of access and there seems no legitimate reason why these men should be at the location.

Cheshire Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit would like to speak to the men shown in the images below in order to ascertain whether they have any information relating to the failure of the nest.

 

Peregrine falcons, their nests and eggs receive the highest level of protection and it is an offence to take, kill or injure the bird, take or possess their eggs or to disturb them whilst they are in or near a nest containing eggs or dependent young.

Anybody with any information should contact the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

ENDS

It’s not clear why there has been an interval of one year before this appeal for information was made.

This case, along with the theft of gull eggs from Poole Harbour, featured on yesterday’s edition of Countryfile (available on iPlayer for the next 29 days here). The use of covert camera surveillance on raptor nests was mentioned as “a vital tool” in catching egg thieves red-handed.

They didn’t mention that camera surveillance was also pretty good for catching raptor killers red-handed, but if the footage was filmed on land being used for game bird shooting then every legal obstacle possible would be put in the way of it being used as evidence in court. Funny that.




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