SNH species action framework conference: presentations & podcasts

species action frameworkSNH have been under fire in recent weeks over their controversial decision to authorise the use of clam traps. (Thanks, by the way, to all of you who took the time to contact SNH on this issue – we await their latest response with interest).

However, sometimes SNH do things well and this blog entry reflects that. Last November (2012), SNH held a Species Action Framework Conference in Edinburgh to discuss the results of their five-year programme focusing on the conservation and management of 32 species (see website here). Kudos to them for recently publishing the presentations, both as downloadable PowerPoints as well as Podcasts.

The following presentations may be of particular interest to RPS readers:

Managing Species Conflicts (Steve Redpath, Aberdeen University). Powerpoint presentation here; podcast here.

Sea Eagle (Andrew Stevenson, SNH and Rhian Evans, RSPB). Powerpoint presentation appears to be unavailable; podcast here.

Hen Harrier (Des Thompson, SNH and Simon Lester, Langholm Moor Demonstration Project). Powerpoint presentation here; podcast here.

The hen harrier presentation and podcast is particularly amusing, with head gamekeeper Simon Lester brushing over the reasons why none of the 34 Langholm harrier chicks raised during the current Langholm project have ever returned to breed at Langholm (er, because they’re dead?). Can’t blame the hen harrier anymore for failing grouse stock so instead he concentrated on buzzards and ravens as the prime culprits, although without producing supporting evidence. He did say that 78% of tagged red grouse had been ‘killed or eaten by raptors’. That’s quite a misleading statement – there’s a massive difference between ‘killing’ and ‘eating’. Who’s to say that the ‘eating’ wasn’t the result of scavenging the dead grouse as carrion? Anyway, we look forward, hopefully in the near future, to seeing some hard data rather than having to rely upon Simon Lester’s ‘beliefs’.

We’ll be blogging more about the demonisation of buzzards at Langholm in a later post – we’re currently reviewing some fascinating data that show, fairly conclusively on first appraisal, that red grouse are not a major component of the buzzards’ diet at Langholm. Watch this space…

14 thoughts on “SNH species action framework conference: presentations & podcasts”

  1. At last some movement at Langholm. The area is a disaster zone. Why not push for the reintroduction of the Golden Eagles which were killed by xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx so that the Buzzards can decline naturally. Add a few Eagle Owls and the jobs a gooden.

  2. Ah Simon and his beliefs, opinions and ramblings.
    He did an article in the mid nineties about an incident in the South Wales/Herefordshire border area involving a Goshawk that had killed a large amount of pheasant poults without eating them. He gave his opinion that he believed Goshawks were similar to foxes in that in confined spaces they would carry on and kill everything that moved near to them. This was printed in shooting times as an educated opinion, what Simon failed to mention that was pointed out to me by members of the welsh hawking club who had heard about the storey afterwards was that the goshawk involved died of starvation, it had a disease called Trichomoniasis. The symptoms of this infection is that the bird gets legions in its throat and cant swallow, it doesn’t lose the will to hunt but once it gets its prey it cant eat and basically just plucks half heartedly at its unfortunate victim. Trichomoniasis at the time was particularly prevalent in South Wales and was deemed the reason behind the slow dispersal of Goshawks into Devon and Cornwall (documented).
    In another of his articles he recalled the first time he encountered a wild Goshawk “all the animals and birds in the woods I was in came running past me” he recalled “nowadays they don’t have that same effect” he wrote. When I mentioned this to several Falconers who flew Goshawks in South Wales at that time none of them had ever seen anything like that, one told me he had seen something similar but it had involved a tyrannosaurus rex running through a wood and he’d seen it on Steven Spielberg’s film Jurassic park which had aired on national TV only a few weeks before Simon had penned his article. One of the main benefits of social media is that we can now discuss openly comments such as Simons (magazine editors don’t usually publish letters critising their staff) and add our own beliefs to the collective pot.
    Goshawk persecution by gamekeepers is to me the most difficult to understand, in all the documented evidence on the diet of Gosses and there is plenty, game birds never seem to make up more than 6% of the diet, goshawks generally target species that are a possible threat to their eggs or young, Corvids form a substantial part of their diet, usually ranging from 30 – 50%. Grey Squirrels, Rabbits and wood pigeon, all pest species are also taken in good numbers. Buzzards and sparrow hawks actively avoid goshawk nesting ranges. Taking this into consideration over the coarse of a year out of 350 prey items your looking at a total of 21 game birds, at present prices of £3.50 per poult that’s £73.50, in return your shoot would be rid of over 100 corvids and you’d have less buzzard and sparrow hawks to contend with. A corvid trap alone for materials and to build would set you back over £250, then a keeper has to visit it daily every day, taking an average of an hour a day for each trip on minimum wage this costs in the region of £50 a week, your looking at £400 over 2 months in labour costs alone, not taking account of what productivity has been lost due to being tied up with corvid control. the figures don’t add up, its my belief that gamekeepers target goshawks purposely so as to keep themselves busy at what otherwise would be a quiet time of year.

    1. Merlin. I’ve never heard as much crap spoken in all my life !! Leave the Gamekeepers alone as they are only doing their job

      1. Educate us then crow man, what is the cost of corvid control on an average estate, why persecute birds that are beneficial to you, to farmers and to foresters. at what point does a bird change from being beneficial to the shooting industry to being classed as vermin. if it kills 1 pheasant to 33 crows does that make it vermin? any one of those crows finds a nest with eggs and you lose 10 – 14 young pheasants. its a discussion, simply putting I’ve never heard as much crap doesn’t wash, you obviously haven’t read much of what the SGA write. listen to Simon Lester’s podcast, he says that Strongyle worms are the biggest killers of grouse on Langholm accounting for more grouse than all the raptors, foxes and mustelids put together, then comes out with a statement that 78% of tagged grouse were killed or eaten by Buzzards, that’s like saying 100% of elephants in Africa were killed or eaten by vultures.

        1. “…that’s like saying 100% of elephants in Africa were killed or eaten by vultures.”

          A fine riposte, Merlin. It looks like we have another pro-shooting troll that can’t or won’t reply with a reasoned response.

    2. Regarding Gamekeepers persecuting birds of prey. you just have to look at the cases brought to Court and then look at the amount of successful prosecutions there are. Even the Courts are finding Gamekeepers not guilty on many, many occasions , am I right or wrong ?????????????????

      1. Another senseless argument. Has it ever crossed your mind that collusion could be the reason that there are few successful prosecutions? Here are two massive governments cover-ups that did not result in any prosecutions – Hillsborough and Jimmy Saville.

        So, if we are to follow your idiotic philosophy, then Jimmy Saville was not a sexual predator and paedophile and the Yorkshire police, the FA, the Thatcher government and the widespread media were all correct to criminalise Liverpool supporters as a whole and denigrate the dead and dying of that tragic day?

        No, the facts are there for all to see. Despite not being charged during his life, Saville was guilty of a vast number of sexual offences, many against underage victims. And despite the truth finally coming out that Liverpool supporters were not to blame, more than 23 years after the incident the families of the 96 are still trying to seek justice. I have a theory on theses two incidents and that there is a common link between these two crimes – the bastion of evil that is Margaret Thatcher. She knew the truth about Hillsborough but chose to lay the blame on Liverpool supporters and she was in regular contact with Saville.

        If governments can cover up such massive crimes for decades, then it would be relatively easy to cover up smaller incidents such as raptor persecution.

        Apologies to any reader that thought this was off-topic, but I did think it valid to my argument.

      2. Crowman, I have been involved with shooting in many aspects, your statement I know nothing about shooting or game keeping is wrong, it’s a typical default statement of someone who cant or wont answer something they are uncomfortable or unsure about. I am not anti shooting. I am anti raptor persecution, I also have no confidence in any of the leaders of the leading shooting organisations or the paths they are pursuing, instead of leading they are being led by the Gamekeepers. This is something that cant be allowed to continue, it is going to bring the shooting industry down, satellite technology is getting better and so is miniature surveillance equipment, within a couple of years we’ll be able to watch were raptors are and it cant come soon enough. Scottish gamekeepers recently petitioned for 16 more species to be added to the general license, probably the only surprise was the omission of the kingfisher to this list such is their intolerance to any other wildlife, Land managers need to stop listening to the bullshit told to them by gamekeepers, this is where the problem lies, it is the land managers who know little about wildlife. if you don’t believe what I’m saying here’s a few reminders of Some recent other activities involving prominent members of the SGA which include asking the Scottish government to hold an public inquiry to formulate an exit strategy should white tailed eagles start to hunt babies, stating anyone who didn’t believe a fake video on you tube of an eagle picking up a toddler would also deny the holocaust happened, losing 1,000 young pheasants to cold weather simply because they didn’t have a back up plan to cope with inclement weather despite living in Scotland. These Crowmen are supposed to be Scotland’s finest, you need to ask yourself why the top management job at Langholm, probably the highest profile Grouse moor job in Scotland went to an Englishman with no grouse moor experience, obviously someone else has no confidence in the SGA or its members

    1. Yes, let them do their job – indiscriminately and illegally killing all of Scotland’s iconic and protected species, and robbing the taxpayer of opportunities to see these fine creatures in their habitats.

      1. To all you do gooders out there you know nothing at all about Game Keeping, instead of commenting on something you know nothing about, until such times as you do, you all want to shut your mouths, or go and get a job as a Game Keeper and get some knowledge of the job before commenting about it.

        1. That has to be one of the most ludicrous arguments I’ve ever witnessed. Are you suggesting that because we are not actual gamekeepers then we can’t have any knowledge of the subject? As I said, a ludicrous argument. So if we take your nonsensical approach, then unless you are a politician you can’t have an understanding of poilitics. Unless you are a footballer you can’t possibly know anything of the footballing world. Unless you are driving test examiner you obviously don’t know anything about driving.

          If you feel so strongly that your imbecilic opinions must be heard, perhaps you should keep them for a more appropriate forum, one where high levels of buffoonery are accepted as the norm, such as a gamekeeping forum.

          1. Its the typical arrogance you get from the so-called custodians of the countyside. Not only are they attempting to drag this country back to the Victorian Dark ages when it comes to the persecution of raptors, but they also want to exclude everyone but the well connected elite from enjoying the Brtish countryside.

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