Henry’s Tour: Day 19

Fri 24 April Copy

Henry went for a skydance across the lawns of Holkham Hall in north Norfolk.

This place is home to Viscount Coke, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of that well-known raptor-loving organisation Songbird Survival.

In 2000, a Holkham Estate gamekeeper was prosecuted for 17 offences including the shooting of two kestrels and the poisoning of a third. He kept his job on the estate. Case write-up here.

In 2009, a dead buzzard was found at Holkham. It had been shot. The Holkham Estate put up a £500 reward for information leading to a conviction, as did the RSPB. Nobody was ever prosecuted.

Henry didn’t see any female hen harriers during his visit but he did watch a buzzard and three red kites. One kite had what some would call the ‘Malta Moult’ – a large hole blown through the feathers of one wing.

Henry thought it was time to get out of Norfolk but not before he called in for tea and cake with the legendary Richard Porter, author of the 1974 classic Flight Identification of European Raptors. More recently, Richard’s studies on the local buzzard population helped to convict Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert. Lambert had claimed that the ten poisoned buzzards found on the Stody Estate had been killed elsewhere and then ‘dumped’ on his estate in an attempt to set him up. His defence was to claim that they couldn’t possibly have been poisoned at Stody because there weren’t that many local buzzards to start with. He hadn’t banked on the evidence of one of the world’s leading raptor ID experts, who had recorded 233 buzzard sightings and had counted 73 pairs. Oops.

Thurs 23 April  Copy


Golden eagle & buzzard found poisoned on West Glenalmond Estate, Perthshire

In October and December 1998, a dead golden eagle and a buzzard were found on the Glenalmond Estate in Perthshire. The carcass of a red grouse was found close by, and tests later showed it had been used as a poisoned bait. The golden eagle had been killed by ingesting the illegal pesticide, Yaltox.

In Perth Sheriff Court in December 2000, a local gamekeeper was acquitted of all charges. He was also acquitted of further charges related to laying poisoned baits for either a peregrine or a golden eagle.

News story here

gamekeeper guilty of shooting hen harrier on Craigmill Estate, Morayshire

The hen harrier is the UK’s most persecuted raptor.

In May 2001, a part-time gamekeeper on Craigmill Estate, Morayshire was convicted of shooting a young female hen harrier. He pleaded not guilty to killing a 2nd harrier on the same day, not guilty to having both dead birds in his possession, and not guilty to carrying a shotgun for the purpose of killing a wild bird. The court accepted his not-guilty plea. He was fined £2,000 for killing the harrier.

In July 2000, the hen harrier nest had been under close observation by RSPB workers because eggs had been destroyed in previous years. They recorded video footage of the keeper as he approached the nest and shot the bird. In his defence, the keeper stated he had been attempting to restore the area for grouse shooting and he had shot the bird in “acute frustration”. There is a long history of hen harrier persecution on grouse moors in the UK, making it the most persecuted raptor in Britain.

Further info: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1352092.stm