Natural England’s senior management team has a lovely day out…..on Swinton Estate!!

If anyone has been wondering why no progress whatsoever has been made to tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey in England, I give you Natural England’s senior management team:

18 thoughts on “Natural England’s senior management team has a lovely day out…..on Swinton Estate!!”

  1. Aye, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx This whole fiasco is a disgrace and needs dismantling.

  2. Well that answers my previous comment on the Red Kite blog!!! Strange bedfellows indeed. I keep thinking I’m living in a world where justice for wildlife is moving forward. Seems I definitely AM naieve!!!

  3. Top Tip – invite the same team to accompany you when you recover evidence or survey the ugly bits the shooters PR don’t want publicised.

    They will refuse but it will be interesting to watch them squirm as they explain why they won’t visit you.

    Had they had any sense they would have insisted on meeting you there too.

    But sense isn’t overly obvious.

  4. I hope these senior managers also balance their days out by visiting places such as Whernside where the Hen Harrier chicks were killed in their nest, or the moors around the A66 corridor where other satellite tracked Hen Harriers have gone missing. Otherwise they simply will not be getting the complete picture of what is really taking place in the uplands, and the challenges involved.
    I would hardly say 73 missing or killed Hen Harriers since 2018 is “most encouraging” !!!!

      1. Thanks for correctly amending the figures.
        My concern regarding this day out is that the senior management team will only be shown the positive parts of grouse moor management that the grouse shooting industry want the NE senior management team to see. This could have the effect leaving the senior management team with a very false picture of the extent of raptor persecution, and as such lead to decisions which divert NE’s attention away from the criminality which is occurring elsewhere, and which should really be the focus of NE activities.
        I note Tony Juniper in his tweet refers to being out with “partners”. I wonder if he also considers those groups such as LACS, Hunt Saboteurs and the RSPB investigations Team, which do so much valuable work in exposing criminal behaviour as partners?
        But thank you for posting this, as it does offer some explanation as to why NE seem to lack any serious strategic policy in tackling the criminal persecution of raptors, and how the shooting industry are able to manipulate those who really should be acting totally independently into viewing countryside management in a way which favours the status quo. A status quo which according to the recent state of nature reports has resulted in a massive decline in nature.

  5. Well now that is a surprise, not WTF so the NE board and those two HH “field experts” out enjoying themselves courtesy of Swinton Estate. You couldn’t write this and have it believed. This is an estate with a long long and then again even longer history of [Ed: incidents relating to raptors!] including [Ed: the discovery of] poisonings (a recent Red Kite is one of a number), many birds with ” Malta” or is that ” Swinton” moult, a currently vacant Peregrine site that in 20 or so years of occupation NEVER reared any young, hatching young only once which were subsequently found poisoned in the nest, how many Peregrines do you have to kill to keep a breeding territory vacant one wonders. A long history of Hen Harrier nests failing and birds disappearing stretching back into the late eighties to 2012 at least all with the hallmarks of persecution. Short Eared Owls disappearing, buzzards and their nests disappearing, two long term goshawk territories that probably never reared young and one of which once had a gas gun under it, these territories are now and have been for some time vacant. Long dead Sparrowhawk and Long Eared Owl remains found with shot holes in breast bones. The list is endless and the NE bigwigs go there for a day out. I have no time for Craggs or Murphy these days xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx The whole lot of them should be sacked or shamed into resignation, as you would say Ruth wilfully blind I on the other hand would say something far less polite. One might add there appears to be no change on this estate to the status of raptors other than Hen Harrier the estates flagship ” Green bird” FFS.

    1. I wonder what the employers “terms of reference” were for the original job roles of Stephen Murphy and Gavin Craggs and if their day to day work has evolved into being something different to how it began? How specifically and perhaps how narrowly is the job role defined / prescribed for them by their masters? I have genuine respect for their knowledge and hardiness in the rigours of their work tracking the tagged harriers and monitoring specific roosts and specific nests “on the ground” in all weathers. But not much admiration for their contribution to helping stop the “bog standard” boring old day to day common-species (e.g.buzzard) persecution that goes on at a number of locations they visit regularly in their fieldwork, and which they cannot be oblivious to with their considerable knowledge of birdlife on moors. I think it is obvious that NE need an additional team (and larger!). But this team should be comprised of “investigative fieldworkers”, working separately to the tagged bird monitors just mentioned.
      This team to be set to work with the same passionate ethos as RSPB Investigations, and it ought really to be the “First Team”…whereas they currently don’t even exist on the training pitch! We know it is DGS industry / Establishment influence on politicians that is to blame for NE not having a strong investigate and enforcement ethos in their raptor fieldwork. Maybe under another government of a different type it might hopefully happen.

  6. According to the Guardian, 4/12/21:

    “Grouse moors are not known for being friendly places for birds of prey – but the Swinton estate has a fresh attitude…

    “Two hen harriers coming in now,” said Gary Taylor, head keeper on the Swinton estate in North Yorkshire…

    Taylor’s efforts to prove that hen harriers can thrive alongside driven grouse shooting are lauded by Stephen Murphy, one of the country’s top hen harrier experts.

    “What he’s done for harriers, words can’t describe,” said Murphy, Natural England’s lead adviser for hen harriers, whose studies of satellite-tagged hen harriers showed that illegal persecution was responsible for their low numbers…

    Meanwhile, Taylor’s control of predators such as crows, foxes, stoats and weasels to protect ground-nesting red grouse also assists the ground-nesting hen harriers…

    “What’s here is almost optimum conditions for hen harriers to breed well,” said Murphy

    According to Murphy, evidence that illegal persecution is lessening on grouse moors is not breeding success (which can be due to a good year for voles, a favourite prey) but the survival of long-lived satellite-tagged birds, such as Sorrel (born 2016) and Dru (born 2017). “What’s incontrovertible is that we’ve got 8 to 10 wild birds breeding on English grouse moors and staying there in winter,” he said…

    Hen harriers like to nest close to each other, and so a concentration of nests can build up on grouse moors. If a second nest appears near a first, brood management allows landowners to apply to remove chicks, which are reared in captivity and released. This gives grouse operations a “safety valve” so hen harrier populations won’t become so concentrated that grouse numbers decline…

    Katie-Jo Luxton, the RSPB’s director of conservation, said the first step to hen harrier recovery should be the end of illegal persecution.

    “If brood management is successful and there are more hen harriers, ‘to manage’ it would involve an ever-increasing level of intervention as the perceived conflict with grouse shooting increases,” she said. “Brood management is about forcing hen harriers to fit in with driven grouse shooting. That’s starting in entirely the wrong place. Driven grouse shooting should instead fit around the recovery of hen harriers. And if it can’t, it needs to change.”

    Taylor is convinced that hen harriers, grouse and people can all prosper. “Hen harriers are part and parcel of what’s on the moor,” he said. “Grouse shooting gets a bad press but it’s responsible for the biggest part of upland conservation. Maintaining habitat and controlling predators benefits so many wild species, not just gamebirds.”

    The philosophy of Gary Taylor, Gamekeeper, and Stephen Murphy, Natural England – as indicated above – appears to be that predators should NOT be considered part of the ecosystem to be cherished, NOT part of our environment to be protected, and certainly NOT part of our wildlife to be admired, even though the Hen Harrier is, itself, a predator.

    The entire article is shot through(!) with contradictions and omissions, in favour of an industry creating unnaturally high densities of one species – within an equally unnatural environment – and causing enormous damage, purely for ‘sports’ shooting.

    And to think that by June 2020, RaptorPersecutionUK had already reported that the first five ‘brood meddled’ Hen Harriers, from 2019, had all subsequently been reported as ‘missing’.

    What, I wonder, would Stephen Murphy of ‘Unnatural’ England think about that?

  7. NE is a seriously compromised organisation. It needs to be disbanded and recreated as a body which puts the environment and wildlife first. Its managers must be thoroughly scrutinised [not jobs for the boys].
    And the grouse shooting industry, if it can’t be banned [yet], should be so heavily regulated that it becomes financially unviable to operate.
    All we need now is a government with the balls to do it

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