Buzzard-shooting caught on camera

Press release from RSPB (16 November 2020)

Horror as buzzard gunned down on nature reserve boundary

A member of the public witnessed and filmed the moment the bird of prey was shot out of the sky

The buzzard was found fatally injured over a week later

Due to its injuries the bird could not be saved and sadly had to be euthanised

The RSPB is appealing to the public for information regarding the illegal shooting of a protected bird of prey.

On 10 October 2020, members of the public out walking stopped to watch a buzzard in flight, on land adjoining the south-west boundary of the RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve near High Halstow. One of them started filming it on a mobile phone when they suddenly heard a loud shot, and the bird crumpled and fell from the sky before their eyes.

The witnesses called the police on 101. Kent Police and the RSPB conducted a search of the area, but the body could not be found. However, a few days later, on 19 October, a birdwatcher reported seeing a buzzard with a broken wing close to where the buzzard had fallen. RSPB reserve staff set out and discovered a badly injured buzzard on the ground. It was rushed to a local vet but the bird couldn’t be saved and had to be humanely euthanised.

An x-ray of the body revealed that the bird had four pieces of shot lodged in its wing, shoulder and leg. The injury to the wing, which had caused the break, was consistent with the timing of the recent witnessed shooting. However, three of the pellets were older, indicating that the bird had been shot before on an earlier occasion.

Police have spoken with a man in connection with the incident.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. Yet according to the RSPB’s recent Birdcrime report, there were 85 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK in 2019 – with many more likely to have gone undetected. More buzzards were the object of persecution in 2019 than any other raptor species. 

The witness, who does not wish to be named, said:

Northwood is a really special place for my family. We had just lost a loved one, so my dad suggested we take a walk to clear our heads. We were watching a buzzard flying together with another bird of prey, and I quickly got my phone out and started filming it. It was a beautiful sight. Then suddenly we heard a crack and the buzzard crumpled and fell to the ground. It was a feeling of utter shock; we couldn’t believe what we’d just seen. My sister was in floods of tears, we were just so shaken. It was not what we’d envisaged for our walk together. One moment we were watching something so alive, then the next a human had needlessly and senselessly taken it away – it felt like such a horrific waste.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations, said: “Nature has the power to lift our spirits, never more so than in these difficult times. No-one should have to witness wildlife being killed illegally before their eyes and our utmost sympathy goes out to the family.

We regularly gather evidence of raptor persecution, either finding bodies full of shot or illegal traps, but it’s rare that a bird is killed and filmed right in front of someone. This incident really brings home the horrible reality of what is happening to our birds of prey.

We are so grateful to them for picking up the phone and reporting this incident. We know that passing on information about any crime can be difficult, but if you do see anything, or have any information about this or any other crime involving birds of prey, please call our confidential hotline number (0300 999 0101). Your call could make all the difference and prevent more birds being killed.

We are in a climate and ecological emergency and losing our wildlife at a frightening rate. We all have a role to play, which is why we need an immediate halt to incidents such as this.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Kent on 101 and quote the crime reference: 11-0064. You can also call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.


There is a short clip of the buzzard-shooting on the RSPB blog here

39 thoughts on “Buzzard-shooting caught on camera”

  1. Police have spoken with a man in connection with the incident and ……………………………………….??????????

  2. What is meant by ‘We know that passing on information about any crime can be difficult’. Why would anyone witnessing this horror not report it and in what way is it ‘difficult’ one wonders. ?

    1. I hear you Greyandblue, and I totally get the sentiment. But their is another side…in many areas where a good few Buzzards are popped off each day (the grouse regions)…asking somebody to come forward and go to Court as a witness could mean them bringing a whole lot of shit onto their doorstep, affecting not just employment & income, but causing low grade but persistant passive-intimidation of them, their family and friends. All for what? Even if there is a measly fine handed out, the guy will walk out of Court smirking and the Estate will carry on as before. We know that is exactly what happens. The answer to me is to push (as we all are) for truly radical strengthening of police powers and of sentencing, not to force the little-man/woman honest citizen into an impossible situation. Just my opinion.

  3. There is a pretty simple answer. First get a list of all those with firearms certificates in the Northward Hill area. Secondly get a list of all active mobile phones in the area of the shooting. Correlate the two lists. Sadly I suspect such analysis is not currently legal. The police asking the public for information is a joke, when an analysis of mobile phone data will tell you who was in the area of the shooting. Any pheasant shoots in the area?

    1. What is the difference between what you are suggesting and ‘random’ stop and search powers that the police already have?

  4. No bird of prey would survive for 9 days without food – – – –
    If such reports are to be considered as credible, they need to be factual and believable, and I’m sorry, but this isn’t either.

    1. Are you seriously suggesting the footage of the Buzzard being shot was faked and the testimony of those present false? The police certainly don’t seem to think so. The question whether an injured Buzzard could survive for nine days after being shot I leave to better-qualified readers (although I gather Honey Buzzards go for long periods without feeding when on migration). Besides, it’s a lot more credible that a second Buzzard was shot by the same criminal unobserved than the film was faked and suitably injured Buzzard left for others to find over a week later.

      1. And, of course, it’s perfectly possible that given the locations of the injuries and depending on the effects of shock, the bird may have survived on invertebrates for that time. Or does Perdix (in view of his/her previous displays of breathtaking ignorance) think that Buzzards only eat Rabbits, rodents and “gamebirds”?

        1. Good point – having often seen Buzzards rummaging around fields feeding on invertebrates etc that seems perfectly possible.

    2. And who said it had not been feeding during those 9 days then Perdix? And how do you know how long a raptor would survive on the ground? Buzzards are omnivorous and can feed on a wide range of food, e.g. earthworms, beetles. If evidence like the video of this incident isn’t factual and believable then what is? There is no doubt that the bird is a buzzard, there is no doubt that it was shot.
      I am sorry Perdix, but your statement is neither credible, factual not believable. I am beginning to wonder if Perdix is a pseudonym for Beefy….

    3. Perdix are you so naive, stupid or in denial? Apart from being a forum troll. Or maybe you know the type of shooters, farmers or gamekeepers that undertake these crimes and wish to protect them?

      Wildlife crime does happen more frequently than we’ll ever know.

      But, of course, you stick your neck out with facts that have no base in reality or truth. and certainly no evidence offered.

      Get real!


    1. The historic shot just confirms the extent of persecution that takes place; not only was the buzzard shot in the video footage, but someone had attempted to kill it previously. That isn’t supposition, it’s a fact.

      When you’re deliberately trying to play down clear illegality and wildlife abuse, do you ever take a moment of self reflection and wonder how on earth you developed such a disgusting mindset?

    2. Supposition so a bird is seen to be shot or is it entirely coincidence it falls as if shot. It will have been X-rayed you numpty. Buzzards are large enough to survive some days without food although a grounded bird could still earth worm. I do so detest those in shooting who think that we are all as bad a liars as they are. Even if what you claim is true which it isn’t it is still a sickening fucking crime you Rsole.

    3. Are you really claiming the footage taken in the video was fabricated?
      Are you really claiming that the injured bird found later and examined by a vet, which had injuries consistent with being shot, was all just made up?

      Whilst there is no definite proof that the shot buzzard found later was the one shot out of the sky in the video, the fact that the bird was found in the same area, with injuries consistent with what was witnessed at the time of the shooting, is such strong circumstantial evidence, that most people would come to the rational conclusion that it was most probably the same bird.

      The fact the buzzard had an older injury from a previous shooting incident provides very tangible proof that 2 crimes have been committed against this buzzard. (There are many other recorded instances where birds of prey have been examined and it has been found they have the scars of previous gun shot wounds)

      It also provides proof that lurking somewhere in the Kent countryside is a despicable wildlife criminal, who is prepared to commit abominable crimes in broad daylight, in front of members of the public.
      Hopefully the media attention will help the police bring this offender to justice.

      The comments you and Perdix have posted regarding what would appear to most people as a horrific and senseless crime, appear to be complete nonsense.
      It raises the question “What sort of person would make such perverse comments and why?”.

  5. Perdix, whatever the circumstances the buzzard had pellets in it, so someone had shot it. I’m sure a Vet would not be lying about an injured animal, or that these visitors to the reserve would fake a video for the fun of it!! Stop trying to excuse these inexcusable crimes and put your energies into protecting our wildlife.

  6. One would think that these wildlife criminals would make an effort to slither up the social ladder and improve their social standing by becoming a common dirt bag rather than stick with being toilet licking maggots, or lower.

  7. If caught, the perpetrator must be given the
    maximum possible penalty and their crime publicly broadcast for everyone to see.

      1. The video clip of the buzzard shooting also got a brief, but favourable, mention on the James Whale show on LBC (National Radio) at 1900 on Tuesday evening.

  8. I’m sickened by this of course, but am actually pleased by the reactions of “some” shooters, and by the shooting organisations. Perdix et al claim that the video, x-rays, vet’s reports etc are fabricated. They are pathetically attempting to undermine a criminal investigation. Similar things are written / said after EVERY new case comes to light. The shooting organisations say nothing, a typical reaction, again showing how much they really care about the law being broken by one of their own “community”.

    They seem to think that this is the way to defend shooting, but if they think that shooting can’t happen without an under-pinning of crime, then they are really just banging a few more nails into their own coffins, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who won’t be shedding a single tear.

  9. This is not an isolated incidence, I picked up this posting on Poole Harbour Sightings ( the other day which makes for shocking reading, Be warned if you are of a nervous disposition.

    Before we provide todays sightings, we’d like to make you aware of a report that was published today by Birdlife International which highlights the mass licensed, legal killing of birds across EU member states (including the UK) over a nine year period of 2009 – 2017. The licenses, also known as derogations are granted by governmental organisations to individuals (landowners, farmers, supermarkets etc) to ‘deal’ with birds that start having an impact on either health, produce and profit! The study found that c84,000 licenses were granted during this time period with c17,000 to the UK alone! The report highlights that across the EU, a whopping 14 million birds were legally killed which if you add to the totals of illegally killed birds (c25 million) as well as species that are disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, lack of insects etc then it adds to an already pretty grim picture. The main species concerned are Feral Pigeon (c2.5 million) and Wood Pigeon (c1 million) but also include Starling (c1.5 million), Song Thrush (c700k), Chaffinch (550k), Blackbird (c350k) and Fieldfare (c300k) to name a few. The report not only highlights the scale, but also the EU commissions inability to follow protocol and govern the Habitats and Birds Directives which states that full reporting of derogations is mandatory for all EU member states, however when the report was being carried out, huge gaps in the data were found. There are numerous species mentioned within the report relevant to Poole Harbour, most notably the Cormorant, a protected species that’s been in steady decline here in Dorset for many years. However, it’s been noted that over the last 9 years around c400,000 Cormorant were killed legally with a population of only c240,000 pairs! Pretty staggering.

    1. “The report not only highlights the scale, but also the EU commissions inability to follow protocol and govern the Habitats and Birds Directives”

      I took a case, against Natural England and the UK Department for Transport, to the European Court of Justice over the licensed destruction of a rare bat colony – in order to save just 46 seconds journey time on a proposed new train service to London. After two years of EU – UK Government faffing about behind the scenes, the European Commission intervened to prevent the ECJ from hearing my case.

      I was asking that the Habitats Directive be upheld.

  10. The Kent Ornithological Society (KOS) has today issued the following statement:

    “The RSPB has offered a reward of £1000 for information leading to the successful prosecution of the person responsible and the Kent Ornithological Society has added a further £1000 – doubling the reward offered.

    We know members will be angered by this cruel and senseless behaviour and we feel that our Society – which has faithfully cherished and recorded the birds of Kent for 70 years – should show solidarity with the RSPB in this matter by offering to increase the reward so that a successful prosecution may take place.

    Thankfully such incidents are relatively rare in Kent compared to some of the raptor prosecution hotspots further north. It is essential that this incident is rightly condemned and action taken by Kent Police.”

    This is an unusual step – I believe it’s the first time in the society’s history that it has stepped in to offer a reward for the successful prosecution of a wildlife criminal – but reflects the disgust and concern felt about this appalling act by birders across the county and beyond.

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