Sparrowhawk shot dead in Wrexham

SparhawkWrexhamThe BBC is reporting the fatal shooting of a kestrel in Wrexham, although judging by the photograph it appears the victim was a sparrowhawk, not a kestrel.

The critically injured bird was discovered by a member of the public on Thursday 29th August in Brynhyfryd, Johnstown and it died shortly afterwards.

The RSPCA Cymru are appealing for information. Tel: 0300 1234 999.

BBC News article here

5th suspected red kite poisoning in Northern Ireland this year

Y1D2013Last week we blogged about the growing concern of suspected red kite poisonings in Northern Ireland, following the discovery of a fourth dead bird in County Down this year (see here). Incredibly, conservationists had not been able to confirm the poisonings as they were still waiting for toxicology results from the lab – from as far back as January!

This week brings news of a 5th dead kite, this time found in the Cairncastle area of County Antrim and also suspected to have been poisoned. It was found by walkers on Sunday 18th August.

This bird (Yellow 1D) was born in May this year and was the offspring of one of the poisoned adults found in County Down.

The RSPB and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are appealing for information. Adam McClure, the RSPB’s Red Kite Officer in Northern Ireland said: “While we can’t say for certain until we have the results of the post-mortem, we strongly suspect that this bird, and potentially some of the others, has fallen victim to poisoning. All birds of prey are protected under the law, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean they are safe from poison. In some cases they are deliberately targeted as some people incorrectly see them as a threat to livestock or game birds. They are also vulnerable to poisoned bait left out with the intention of controlling foxes and crows. However, this is an illegal practice as it is indiscriminate and can affect not only scavenging birds like red kites but also pets, livestock and humans“.

Anyone with information about these suspected poisonings is urged to call PSNI: 0845 600 8000 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously: 0800 555 111.

Dead buzzard in Scottish Borders shot AND poisoned

6754Back in mid-July we blogged about a dead buzzard that had been found near Heriot in the Scottish Borders – it had been shot, but the precise cause of death was not known (see here).

Fast forward to August and it has now been revealed the buzzard had also been poisoned and that this was the cause of death, according to the BBC (see here). The poison used has not been named.

Enormous credit, once again, to the local Police Wildlife Crime Officer Hannah Medley for pursuing this case and also for publicising the findings in the media. Credit also to the lab folk at SASA for managing to detect poison in what had previously been described as a badly decomposed carcass.

This confirmed poisoning now takes the number of known (reported) poisonings in Scotland this year above the published figure from last year, so hopefully we will no longer have to read the ridiculous claims from the usual suspects that ‘poisoning cases are significantly declining’. The facts show that they are doing nothing of the sort. How ironic in this, the so-called Year of Natural Scotland.

Unfortunately the public haven’t been allowed to see this year’s on-going tally as yet – we know of several poisoned birds that have not yet been reported in the media, even though the birds were poisoned much earlier in the year. We’ll have more to say about these cases later in September and we’ll be asking the usual questions of a particular Police Scotland division about why they’ve kept these poisonings a secret for so long.

Poisoned peregrine rescued in Northern Ireland

Peregrine Falcon by Martin EagerA farmer, an RSPB warden, a politician and a falconer/gamekeeper have joined forces in Northern Ireland this week to rescue a stricken peregrine falcon believed to have been poisoned.

The bird was found by a farmer in a field at Churchill, Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh. The farmer contacted an RSPB warden who collected the bird and passed her over to Stormont politician Jim Wells, who also just happens to be a peregrine expert and Chairman of the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group.

Jim immediately recognised the symptoms of Alphachloralose poisoning (it thins the blood and causes death by hypothermia) and so he whacked up the car heater as he drove the victim towards Lisburn. Once there, the peregrine was passed to registered falconer/gamekeeper Alan Coates.The bird was put in an incubator and given a saline solution and appears to be making good progress, although it is still early days. She remains under Alan’s care and is currently enjoying strips of pheasant breast!

Peregrine photo by Martin Eager

Standing in support of the badger cull activists

badgerOur focus is on the illegal persecution of raptors that is closely associated with the game-shooting industry. However, exceptional circumstances have prompted us to post this blog entry.

The badger cull in parts of south-west England is imminent, if it hasn’t already started (see here). It is a government-sanctioned cull of a protected species for spurious, non-scientific reasons. Sound familiar?

This blog entry is to show our support for the hundreds of activists who have been, and still are, doing their utmost to prevent this cull from happening.

If you can’t make it to the badger kill-zones but you want to show your support for those activists you can:

1. Sign the e-petition (well over a quarter of a million people already have) – sign it here.

2. Contribute to the activists’ wish-list of equipment to help them in the field – the cheapest item is about £3 for a pack of rechargeable batteries. View their wish-list (and buy them something) here.

For more info about the whole disgraceful issue, read the ‘Stop the Cull’ website here.

Good luck and thank you to all those activists on the ground tonight and over the following six week cull period.

Young peregrine shot

peregrine shotPolice in Bristol are appealing for information after a young peregrine was found injured by the side of the road in Queen Charlton, near Keynsham earlier this month. An x-ray revealed the bird had been shot.

The bird, which had been ringed as a chick in July, is now in the care of a local rehabilitation expert.

More details in The Bristol Post here.

Not just any red grouse…part 3

MSFor part 1 see here, and part 2 see here.

The pressure is building on Marks and Spencer…..have a read of this article in today’s Guardian (see here).

On Tuesday we told M&S they had seven days to name the estates that are supplying them with red grouse. We also asked them to explain what measures they have used to assess these estates to ensure they are not involved in the illegal persecution of birds of prey. M&S have previously stated they only source game from “well-managed estates”. We want to know what criteria were used to assess and define “well-managed”.

 If they don’t respond with the answers to these questions within 7 days (so by next Tues, 27th Aug) we will be alerting Trading Standards and asking them to investigate M&S for what we think could be misleading claims about their products.

Tick tock.

UPDATE 3rd September 2013: Not just any grouse….part 4 – see here

Red kites start their own blog

bloggingbirdsRed kites in Scotland have started their own blog….sort of.

In a fascinating new project, the information provided by satellite tags fitted to red kites is being interpreted and transposed by a computer programme and then automatically published in the form of a blog post on the project website.

The project, called ‘Blogging Birds’, is a collaboration between scientists at the RSPB and computer geek types at the University of Aberdeen. It’s brilliant! At the moment there are four red kites ‘blogging’ – you can read about their daily and weekly movements and view maps to see where they’ve been. Take note, English Nature, this is the level of information you could / should be providing about tagged hen harriers instead of just giving us a wall of silence.

Check out the Blogging Birds website here. You’ll notice that all four of the current kites have been flying dangerously close to some well-known persecution blackspots. Wouldn’t it be cool if they could automatically blog “Help! I’ve been poisoned! I’ve been shot! I’m caught inside a crow cage trap and there’s a man approaching with a shotgun in his hand! I’m caught by the leg in an illegally set trap and I’m about to have my head smashed in by a man with a shinty stick!”.

Kudos to the organisations and individuals involved – the more the public can see what happens to these birds, the better.

Red kite found shot at Leadhills

RK Leadhills 2013A juvenile red kite was found critically injured in the village of Leadhills on 8th August. It’s injuries were so severe the bird had to be euthanised. See here for an SSPCA press release, and well done to them for not only getting this info out in good time but also for saying it how it is – none of this ‘the bird’s death was not by natural causes’ rubbish that we saw Police Scotland put out a few months ago when a shot red kite had been found in Aberdeenshire (see here).

This latest incident will come as no surprise whatsoever to anybody who has been following this blog.

If you’re new to this blog and don’t know what happens to birds of prey at Leadhills, try reading this as a little introduction and for even more info just click on the Leadhills Estate tag and read on.

So, here we are again, reporting yet another crime against a bird of prey at Leadhills. Not to worry though, especially if you happen to be the RSPB Scotland Director – he has recently agreed to hold the 2014 Scottish Birdfair at Hopetoun House, returning for the third consecutive year. For those who don’t know, the Hopetoun family own Leadhills Estate and some of them live in Hopetoun House. The Earl of Hopetoun also happens to serve on the Board of Directors at Scottish Land & Estates.

Needless to say, we’ll be blogging some more in due course about the RSPB’s decision to return to Hopetoun House, and we still need to blog about the Leadhills Estate Game Book that has found its way into our hands. We’ve also got some other stuff about Leadhills to talk about…it’s just a question of finding the time…

More soon….

Suspected red kite poisonings: 4 in Northern Ireland this year alone

_69410526_deadkiteConcern is growing over the number of suspected red kite poisonings in Northern Ireland, following the discovery of a 4th bird last week in Castlewellan, County Down.

The birds were part of a reintroduction project, initiated by the RSPB in 2008 after persecution in the 18th century had caused their extinction. This reintroduction project has so far resulted in a small breeding population and this year it is believed seven pairs managed to successfully raise young. Three of the four birds found dead this year were breeding adults.

What is especially surprising, and shocking, about these deaths is that the RSPB do not yet know whether poisoning has been confirmed. Why not? Because they’re still waiting to receive the toxicology results from the lab… of these dates back to early January!

These toxicology results are crucial for understanding what’s going on in Castlewellan – we have been informed that three of the birds were picked up within the same valley – an area of approximately 1km2 – if the birds were poisoned, which seems likely, the team needs to know whether this was as a result of secondary poisoning (e.g. by eating rodents that have been poisoned with rodenticides) or whether the birds were deliberately and directly targeted with illegal poisons (such as Carbofuran). Without this information it is very difficult for the team to address the problem with the appropriate action.

The problem in Northern Ireland is not just limited to County Down –  watch out for a press release next week concerning another red kite victim elsewhere in the country…

BBC news article here