The ‘secrets of the Angus Glens’ that Countryfile forgot to mention

On Sunday evening, Countryfile included a piece about the grouse moors of Invermark Estate in the Angus Glens and how it was “a haven for wildlife”.

It can be viewed on iPlayer here for the next 28 days (starts at 22 mins in).

Inane, vacuous and unquestioning, this piece was heralded in previews as ‘uncovering the secrets of the glen’.

Invermark is only one of several grouse moor estates in the Angus Glens. Here are some secrets of the wider Angus Glens that weren’t mentioned on Countryfile:

2004 May, near Edzell: long-eared owl and two short-eared owls starved to death in crow cage trap.  No prosecution.

2004 May, Invermark Estate: peregrine nest destroyed. No prosecution.

2006 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 May, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. No prosecution. Estate owner had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments. This was being appealed, but it is not known how this was resolved.

2006 July, Millden Estate; poisoned sheepdog (Lindane). No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird allegedly been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, Glenogil Estate: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 October, ‘Glenogil Estate: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 April, Millden Estate: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2009 July, Millden Estate: poisoned golden eagle ‘Alma’ (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 August, Glenogil Estate: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 September, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2011 February, Airlie Estate: buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. (see below)

2011 March, Airlie Estate: 3 x buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. Prosecution (!) but dropped after statement from suspect given to SSPCA deemed inadmissible.

2011 April, Millden Estate: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 April, ‘Nr Noranside’: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Suspicious death.

2011 June, Rottal & Tarabuckle Estate: dead kestrel inside crow cage trap. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Edzell’: spring-trapped buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Bridgend’: remains of buzzard found under a rock. Suspicious death.

2012 May, Millden Estate: satellite-tagged golden eagle seemingly caught in spring trap, then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside with two broken legs & left to die. No prosecution.

2012 May, Glen Esk: disappearance of sat-tagged red kite. No further transmissions or sightings of bird.

2013 January, Invermark Estate: white-tailed eagle nest tree felled. No prosecution.

2013 June, Glen Ogil: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2013 July, Glen Moy: illegal hawk trap. No prosecution.

2013 September, nr Edzell: unset spring trap next to bait. No prosecution.

2013 November, Glen Lethnot: poisoned golden eagle ‘Fearnan’. No prosecution.

2014 August & September, Glenogil Estate: alleged snare offences. Prosecution of gamekeeper underway (currently ongoing).

2014 October, Nathro: shot buzzard. Prosecution? Unknown.

And some more secrets of the Angus Glens that weren’t mentioned:

No breeding hen harriers on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens since 2006 (see here).

Mountain hare massacre on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens (see here).

Angus Glens gamekeeper facing trial for alleged pole-trapping offences (see here).

Mark Avery has written an alternative and more accurate Countryfile script (see here) than the one that was aired on Sunday evening.

Plenty of people on social media have been asking when Countryfile will do a piece on illegal raptor persecution. To be fair, they did one in 2014 (we blogged about it here) and it was fairly well balanced, but this then begs the question why Countryfile researchers hadn’t done their homework for this latest episode.

Had they done so, here are some of the images they would have found from those ‘wildlife haven’ grouse moors of the Angus Glens. From the top down, an illegally poisoned golden eagle, another illegally poisoned golden eagle, an illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle, an illegally trapped golden eagle that was then dumped in a layby with two broken legs and left to die, the nest tree of a white-tailed eagle that was illegally chainsawed to the ground, and a pile of rotting shot mountain hares. The grouse moors of the Angus Glens a wildlife haven? Hardly. They’re notorious wildlife crime scenes.

Petition to ban driven grouse shooting here




deeside eagle



43 thoughts on “The ‘secrets of the Angus Glens’ that Countryfile forgot to mention”

  1. They have much more recently done several articles about how game keepers are great, how burning moors are great because it prevents maturing heath which is supposedly bad (although literally the following week there was a report from a more middle class area which praised maturing heath and said not preventing it maturing was bad) and how all our wildlife and birds of prey are all doing super.

  2. You keep publishing these findings every five minutes.It is never ending.What is your next move now,to prosecute these people for there heinous crimes.It seams every grouse Moor is doing something wrong.What are you and the police doing about it.Every e mail I get from you is never any good news.Just a lot of words.For God sake give us some good news for once.Thank you

        1. Well I’ve suggested a bit of light (un)civil disobedience with a side order of minor criminal damage, but that gets voted down on the technicality of being illegal, unlawful, and gaolable over. All I’ll say is that before I became disabled I certainly did what needed to be done for the causes I supported, but I can understand why some people might be put off. I must admit various governments in the last few years have made even minor charges for “political” activities much more life ruining than they once were, and have really made even talking about it in media as dangerous as talking about Hulk Hogan’s racist sex tape for the publications. It is up to the individual to decide where they draw the line in their level of protest.

        2. ANDREW LOCKE. What the hell are YOU doing about it?! This website can only help publicize the issue and keep the pressure on those who CAN do something about it.

        3. I’m sure we would all like to read nothing but ” fluffy bunny ” reports in relation to the state of the countryside in these isles, but I think that you will find that the clue is in the title of this website- ” Raptor PERSECUTION ” How about getting off of your arse and making your own good news.

    1. Unless I’ve got it completely wrong, Andrew Locke, I don’t think RPUK sends out unsolicited emails, good news or bad. Perhaps you might like to enlighten us to an item of (truthfully) good news on the subject of raptor persecution. What do you suggest they do, introduce a quota system, one item of good news for every hundred items of bad news? Why do I suspect you might be a shooting sympathiser? Can I also suggest you ask the police themselves why they’re not doing something about the highly regrettable level of wildlife crime perpetrated on behalf of shooting estates? Thank you.

        1. How rude of you! So what exactly was the point in your negative comment? You should be thanking RPUK for highlighting the injustices, rather than criticising them for disseminating bad news. You might not be a shooting man but you’re certainly willing to shoot the messenger!

          1. I t was not a negative comment.What do all-day,use big words,and bore the pants off of people.It was not a negative comment.Ihave no big words to carry on this conversation., You call yourself a broadcaster,and a. Man who fights for all things nature.How rude of you to call me agreeing with shooting.Goodbye Mr snipe.Ihave found you on twitter

            1. You’re wasting space on this excellent site by resorting to personal abuse. I’m afraid you must be mixing me up with another Mr Snipe, because I’ve never called myself a broadcaster, and would have no idea how to be “on twitter.” Sorry to bore the pants off you, but we can’t all be as erudite and witty as yourself. Oops, did I use a big word?

              1. Great news from the national trust,standing up to the leases being suspended.At last some good news,and not all doom and gloom Well done to all

  3. I have written to Countryfile and suggested they review this piece of crap objectively.
    I am not holding my breath.

  4. “To be fair, they did one in 2014 and it was fairly well balanced”

    And that’s the problem, RPS. On the very, very rare occurrences when issues such as raptor persecution are mentioned, the establishment BBC will ensure that the debate is balanced and the shooting industry will get the chance to air their views, but when the issue is switched to their usual pro-gamekeeping or pro-shooting stance, no-one will be permitted to mention anything about ongoing, widespread persecution, habitat or environmental destruction, or other illegal activities.

    I must admit that I’ve given up watching Countryfile, the establishment BBC’s weekly pro-farming and pro-shooting drivel, however I watched the clip, and it just reassured me that the BBC will never allow the truth to be known. Pro-establishment propaganda, and corrupt to the core.

  5. If only there were some good news to give us! Unfortunately burying our heads in the sand would do nothing to help the raptors which are being ruthlessly persecuted and killed throughout the land. Why does the BBC (and other media, to be fair) fall for all this fakery? The gamekeeper’s “fascination” and love of nature was so obviously contrived. Is it because they’re being drip fed an easy supply of programme content by the game industry keen to cover up their crimes? There is really big money involved in promoting grouse shooting, in these days of the super-rich spending their ill-gotten gains indulging in sadistic blood sports, which serves to reinforce their sense of power and ultimate control. It would be a big step for nature conservation and humanity alike, if Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting achieved the success it deserves. It would also be a giant leap forwards if RSPB were to come off the fence and support the campaign. Their concessionary approach to the blood lust of the shooting fraternity has been a massive failure so far, and the hunters and shooters have clearly identified them as a soft touch. Time to recognise the enemy of progress and compassion towards wildlife, and regard them as an anachronism to be swept away. Grouse shooting has well and truly had its day and now needs consigning to the dustbin of history, along with all other forms of recreational killing of our wildlife. Change is happening, and Raptor Persecution UK is to be thanked for the significant progress made in raising public awareness, but I’m sure even you would admit there is still a long way to go. However you are giving decent people a degree of hope for the future, like a breath of fresh air.

  6. This is par for the course for Countryfile – a truly dreadful programme, more intent on selling calendars and getting the girls’ make-up perfect (so that it looks as if their rosy cheeks come from hiking in the glens, admiring the pretty mountain hares). They’ve had umpteen items about mountain hares which mention everything except the fact they’re being slaughtered in huge numbers by those ‘conservationists’ AKA grouse moor owners.

  7. Oh, look, there is a grouse, and an ffffing pheasant, sigh.

    I note that country file neglected to mention how much the estate receives in grants and subsidies ? I also noticed a few derelict properties……

    It might be an idea to list the owners of estates in these pages ( as long as no legal problems might follow ) it would be interesting to learn who owns the land that these crimes are occurring on, after all, it is no secret…. is it?
    We could take out a page in say, the Scotsman, to publish the list, I am sure we could ‘crowd fund’ it :)

    A searchable data base of gamekeepers and owners with ‘history’ would be enlightening, as would a list of fiscals and judges who seem too often, to fail to bring these crimes to conviction !

    Your long list of ‘no conviction’, is a travesty of justice, and this is why it still continues unabated.

      1. Thanks RP. I have Andy Wightmans books, follow his blog, and know of his excellent work in tracing the owners of Scotland’s land, and have high hopes that his election to the Scottish parliament will move land reform forward.

        It does occur to me, that the Scottish government might want to look at funding ‘ Who Owns Scotland ‘, and providing open free access, to this important resource.

        My thought was, that you name, where possible, the keepers and the estates responsible for the raptor crimes. But, the keepers work for an estate, the estate is owned by someone, and the ultimate responsibility for a/the crime lies with the owner ! They employ, train, house and ‘instruct’ the keepers, albeit through a factor/manager.

        I have to assume that lord Blahblah, owner of Muckhall estate, would not like to have his name publicly linked to a crime. Using the name and profile of the owner, might just be a way of these crimes making it into the papers? and therefore getting public recognition of what is going on in our countryside, which is not the chocolate box picture presented by country file etc.

        However, Invermark estate is part of Dalhousie Estates,
        and I think the current owner is James Hubert Ramsay, 17th Earl of Dalhousie,_17th_Earl_of_Dalhousie

        Estate owners might want to pay more attention to what their staff get up to, because we are watching, and we want to see raptors wheeling about in our skies !

  8. I have e mailed Countryfile to suggest that in the interests of balance they give Mark Avery a right of reply. I am not holding my breath.

  9. Crowd funding some advert may be a good idea. Do crowd funding web sites allow for that or is there a big enough crowd on here. (400,000 signed the petition)

    The thing to target would be the politicians. They don’t like bad publicity.
    The other aspect of something like this is the media follow events – it becomes news when you take a full page in the national press.

    1,125 followers on this blog to start with. How many are up for laying out a little cash. How about we get back all that reward money back from the RSPB? What is happening to that?

  10. For many years the Angus Glens has consistently had appalling levels of wildlife crime. It must be arguably one of the worst records in Europe.

    Certain estates continuing to commit wildlife crime with impunity.

    The public have no confidence in the police , both past and present in this area.

    A good example of the police refusing the assistance of other agencies to assist in reducing wildlife crimes.

    This is an area that brings shame on Scotland and the list included by RPS supports this. And the words NO PROSECUTION just makes things more frustrating.

    For those that may think ‘prosecution doesn’t work’ surely it has to be tried first before reaching this conclusion.

  11. The big question here and always has been the hobbies of inept human beings, generally male with overriding testosterone issues who take a putrid pleasure by cowardly placing themselves behind guns at the expense of creatures far more worthy of a life than themselves. It’s a sickness and a perversion which mascarades under the blanket of culture and sport, like it’s pathetic participants mascaraed under the thin veil of legality.

  12. Watched the Countryfile clip again, and actually quite amused at how much insincerity the ‘keeper oozed. The highlights of his love for the wildlife he cares for appeared to be “Oooh, there’s two pipits fighting” (off camera), and “Listen to the thrush singing” as a Chaffinch sang in the background! I’d advise him not to give up the day job, but on the other hand that might be a good idea for him and all his cronies.

    1. IMHO the most obvious bird singing when he said “there’s a thrush singing” is a Wren, immediately followed by Robin and Goldcrest…

      1. Must watch it again, although the main point is that it wasn’t a thrush, and he couldn’t even say which species of thrush!

  13. The number of raptors killed in the Angus glens will be small compared to the amount killed if the Glen Dye wind farm is approved. You might find a step change in the estates behavior when there is less raptors about anyway.

  14. A few years ago I worked for a short time for a building contractor that was owned by an estate ‘Factor’ and saw inside several of the Angus estates.
    Every Estate kept a ‘Vermin Book’ in which were recorded all the destructions of both wild and domestic species.
    I was appalled when I read The Gannochy book and left the firm shortly thereafter.
    At that time The Gannochy was owned by an ancient American [He has since died] but administered by my then employer.
    The Glens are hidden in a time warp where the elite rule the peasants and tied houses and employment govern how the populace act!

  15. I’d put money up to fund a “we want to see birds of prey here!” banner to fly out the tail of an aircraft over say Milden or Glenogil or both of them on 12 August.

  16. Not surprising from the BBC, their outdoors output is mainly written from the ‘country pursuits/farming’ perspective. See recent items about ‘predatory’ ravens, and frequent gamekeeping/SLE/GWCT puff pieces on Landward, GMS and Out of Doors

  17. I thought this might interest you.

    I just spotted a GWCT advert for a competition, the Grand Grouse Draw – “an unforgettable day’s driven red grouse shooting – the King of Sports – for eight guns in the heart of the famed Angus Glens during the 2017 season.”

    In this advert, the way they describe the Invermark Estate, you’d think it was a nature reserve, including this:

    “The keepering team are justifiably proud of the results of a recent survey identifying the presence of 81 bird species, including 10 species of raptor, either breeding on the moor, or using the area as a valuable feeding resource; testament to sympathetic management of proper wild countryside.”

    No doubt, if they spin such stories often enough, people start to believe them.


    1. Ah, that fabricated tale of the 81 species again!

      Despite many people requesting a copy of this “report”, the shooting industry has repeatedly refused to provide a single copy for the public.

      Anyway, my local patch has attracted more than 200 species of birds, without any predator control.

      Says it all, really.

  18. To understand how these estates get away with it you just have to go back to the 1930s (not all that long ago) and see how the law came down on the Kinderscout Martyrs (trespassers) like a ton of shite. These estate owners still have enormous power and influence, and that is why the Police and ourselves are up against it when trying to prosecute anyone killing birds of prey. I stopped watching Countryfile a few years ago.

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