Peregrine nest on Peak District grouse moor fails in suspicious circumstances

The Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group (PDRMG) has already reported the failure of a peregrine nest in the Peak District National Park, and the breeding season’s only just got underway!

You can read the group’s report here.

[Three abandoned peregrine eggs on the nest ledge, photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]

Of course, an abandoned nest is not a clear indicator that a wildlife crime has occurred and if viewed as an isolated incident, it could easily be argued that reporting this incident to the police is an over-reaction. Indeed, that’s exactly what we’d expect grouse shooting organisations to say. It’s what they do: play it down, make out that everything’s fine, that the persecution issue is “tiny and that there’s really nothing to worry about. And that’s a convincing argument, when viewing an incident like this in isolation.

However, incidents like this that happen on grouse moors in known wildlife crime hotspots (like the Peak District National Park) should never be viewed in isolation. Instead, they should be viewed as being part of a well-established pattern of failed peregrine breeding attempts in this region, and in every other region in northern England where grouse moors dominate the landscape.

We see it happen over and over and over again. In the Peak District, a so-called ‘partnership’ has consistently failed to address peregrine persecution (e.g. see here) and there have been several scientific papers making a direct link between grouse moor management and peregrine persecution here and across the UK, e.g. here, here, here, here.

It was only last month that we watched covert footage of a load of armed gamekeepers hiding close to a plastic peregrine decoy, on a grouse moor, er, in the Peak District (here).

[This peregrine was found shot next to a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park in 2016. It didn’t survive. Photo by RSPB]

And yet still it continues.

The police are investigating the latest suspicious loss of two breeding adults but to be honest there’s not much they can do unless they happen to stumble across a couple of shot peregrine corpses stashed under someone’s driving seat or chucked in the back of a Landrover, but even then it would be virtually impossible to prove who’d killed them and the charge would be for the lesser crime of ‘possession’.

In the meantime, this case will be hotly disputed at so-called ‘partnership’ meetings, the grouse shooting reps will come up with 101 reasons why the breeding attempt might have failed and not one of those reasons will be the probability that someone linked to the grouse moor has killed the breeding adults.

When you hear the inevitable denials and protestations, its worth remembering what happened to the poor Bleasdale peregrines and the grouse shooting industry’s response (here & here) when the RSPB’s video evidence was ruled inadmissible and the trial collapsed.

Hats off to the peregrine fieldworkers in the uplands who volunteer to monitor these breeding attempts, year after year, knowing full well what is likely to happen. Fortunately for us they’re willing to document these failures so everybody can see the pattern for themselves.

11 thoughts on “Peregrine nest on Peak District grouse moor fails in suspicious circumstances”

  1. The facts speak for themselves;
    It basically does not happen that a pair of Peregrines will desert a clutch without the pair being killed or the nest seriously disturbed.
    These events are almost always due to deliberate human actions.
    If one adult is killed it is often replaced by another very quickly.
    Keepers have recorded shooting several adults from the same nest in a single season, as they are rapidly replaced by adults seeking an empty territory.

    Keep up the pressure !

  2. It is important that even a nest failure should be reported so that the evidence case builds up, should the UK government decide that it should do something about the fact that so many birds of prey die or are driven away from the English uplands.
    Thanks to the raptor workers and RPUK for bringing the matter to our attention.

  3. A friend just posted a picture of a peregrine taken in my local woods, pretty much in the centre of Scotland’s central belt. He thought it was a sparrowhawk then when he looked at the pictures he’d snapped realised with amazement what it really was. If it sticks around in an area next to a busy motorway, two miles away from a massive petrochemical refinery it will be considerably safer than it will be in many of our pathetic National Parks. Same goes for the ravens we sometimes see and hear locally. That’s truly appalling. The peregrine was ringed, both legs, so it looks as if raptor workers have had an eye on it thankfully. It makes the blood boil to think the usual suspects have added insult to injury by trying to implicate raptor workers in nests being abandoned and BoPs ‘disappearing’. Bastards.

  4. Can’t we start a national raptor watch around the clock during the breeding season? We could all do shifts. Then we would also catch the swines at it if they are attempting to disrupt the nest or kill the parents. I can do weekends.

  5. Thank you very much supporters of protection for our Birds of Prey; you make an old man happy, with your deterination and courage. All my life, I have despaired at the lingering traditional cruelty of people against birds such as the Peregrine, from game bird shooter to the pigeon fancier, who just cannot accept the right of all creatures to exist. The whole world is still under the control of such out-dated persecution of predatory animals, without some attempt to protect game birds, pigeons and domesticated animals, without having to slaughter the likes of the Peregrine. Such a culture of knee-jerk reaction, has to be countered by an education policy, and alternatives to wipe-out, as is being done in some parts of the world. Over population of humans is causing severe friction between intruding urban settlements and farming, pushing into the landscapes where Elephants and other wildlife have long occupied, and co-existed with reasonable human communities without extinction becoming a threat. The Peregrine is being hammered by “sports” people and hobbyists, who just cannot accept competition and adapt their expectations to that reality. The natural world, at present, stands on a knife-edge, created by humanity’s Malthusian population growth and persistent persecution of wild creatures for irrational reasons. Renowned conservationists are ringing the alarm bells, to alert the world about the impending effects of a runaway effect of climate change not being curtailed. Here we are, with selfish and cruel elements thinking they are immune to prosecution, for their ignoring the fact that their actions are removing a creature, essential for the balance of life in a naturally managed environment. The killers of the Peregrine are bringing a desolation, as are the wipers out of wildlife in Africa and elsewhere. This has to be considered as part of a huge world problem.

  6. There is a fringe meeting at the SNP conference on 27th and I hope that commitments to licence grouse moors will be forthcoming. The evidence of need is clear. Pity that similar commitments are unlikely in England.

  7. As Sennen points out,anyone who studies Peregrines in the field knows they are remarkably faithful to their nest site. They do not abandon eggs for any other reason apart from human disturbance or both adults being killed. We all know that the only reason Peregrine numbers are not falling dramatically is because they have been able to adapt to cities. But to see a pair of Peregrines in their natural moorland habitat is one of the great joys of life,one that they deserve and we should be able to experience too Yet Peregrines,like Hen Harriers are being obliterated on our Grouse moors by criminals.

  8. If the nesting pair are still alive but have abandoned the eggs due to natural disturbance such as by a predator they will lay another clutch. I have had this happen twice at a nest site where the eggs were taken two years running by an egg collector. I have also had a pair lay a second clutch at a site where a runaway moorland fire frightened them away.

    This relaying early in the nesting cycle is well known to falconers who breed falcons. Falcons have been known to lay up to double figures when each egg was removed as it was laid.

    If there is no relay at the site in question then this abandonment of the clutch early in the nesting cycle looks highly suspicious.

    Jim Craib

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: