Multi-agency searches in raptor poisoning hotspot in Derbyshire

Multi-agency searches were conducted last week at a raptor-poisoning hotspot in Derbyshire.

Since 2015, at least eight illegally poisoned birds of prey including buzzards and kestrels, as well as poisoned pheasant baits, have been uncovered on farmland in the Glapwell / Ault Hucknall / Rowthorne / Pleasley area of north east Derbyshire. Toxicology analysis has confirmed they were killed by the poisons Aldicarb and Alphachloralose (see here).

[A dead buzzard found in the area. Photo by Derbyshire Constabulary]

Last week police officers from Derbyshire Police’s Rural Crime Team were joined by staff from the RSPB Investigations Team, Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to undertake a series of land searches. A number of follow-up investigations are now continuing as a result of those searches.

Derbyshire’s Rural Crime Team posted the following statement on Facebook yesterday:

Consider this post both an appeal for information and a public safety warning.

Over recent years there has been a concerning number of dead buzzards found to have died as a result of poisoning on land around the Glapwell / Ault Hucknall / Rowthorne / Pleasley area.

In response to this issue, last week Derbyshire Rural Crime Team, RSPB Birders , the NWCU and Natural England were involved in a day of action in the area. Land searches were conducted and other lines of enquiry pursued in what proved to be a very positive day.

Clearly these beautiful birds are being targeted. Killing birds of prey in any way is ILLEGAL but laying poison on land that can be easily accessed by the public poses a significant risk to public safety.

When out and about, should you find anything suspicious it is important that you contact the Police immediately. DO NOT touch or handle anything and do not let children or animals go near.

If you have any information that may aid this enquiry please contact Derbyshire Rural Crime Team’.

This is the latest in a surge of multi-agency investigations in response to raptor persecution crimes over the last 14 months, including a raid in Suffolk on 18th January 2021 (here), another raid in Nottinghamshire in January 2021 (here, resulting in a conviction of a gamekeeper in 2022 here), a raid in Lincolnshire on 15th March 2021 (see here), a raid in Dorset on 18th March 2021 (here), a raid in Devon on 26th March 2021 (see here), a raid in Teesdale on 21st April 2021 (here), a raid in Shropshire on 2nd August 2021 (here), a raid in Herefordshire on 12th August 2021 (here), a raid in Norfolk on 14th September 2021 (here), a raid in Wales in October 2021 (here), a raid in Humberside on 10th December 2021 (here) and a raid in North Wales on 8th February 2022 (here).

Dead kestrels & hedgehogs dumped in layby on Isle of Sheppey, Kent

Gruesome photographs have emerged this morning of dead wildlife found dumped in a pile in a layby near Harty on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

The person who found the corpses (@neish397) identified them as three kestrels and ten hedgehogs. He posted the photos on Twitter and asked for advice about what to do. He tried to report this incident as a suspected wildlife crime to Kent Police using the 101 reporting system but was apparently told by a call handler that he needed to report it online.

Fortunately, the RSPB Investigations team were also alerted and are currently dealing with this incident.

Another kestrel shot dead in West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire Police have published a statement on Twitter this afternoon about a kestrel that was shot dead ‘at some point last week’.

The Leeds Wildlife & Rural Crime team say the bird was shot at the junction of Leeds Road and Park Lane, Allerton Bywater. There isn’t any further information about the type of weapon used (e.g. shotgun, airgun).

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on Tel 101 and quote crime reference #13210148679.

[A hovering kestrel, photographer unknown]

This kestrel is at least the fourth to be shot in West Yorkshire this year alone – in January 2021 it was reported that three kestrels had been shot dead in the first two weeks of the New Year (see here).

Last October another kestrel was found shot dead in West Yorkshire (see here).

3 kestrels shot dead in West Yorkshire since New Year

Three kestrels have been shot dead in West Yorkshire during the first week of January 2021, according to an article in the Yorkshire Post.

Is this the start of another lockdown surge in raptor persecution? Come on, who doesn’t want to start their New Year by illegally blasting a kestrel to bits?

[Kestrel photo by Annette Cutts]

The article reports that two kestrels were shot in the Huddersfield area and one in Leeds. Unfortunately there isn’t any further information such as date, specific location or type of weapon etc, although a tweet from the Leeds Wildlife & Rural Crime Team reports the shooting of a kestrel on 2nd January 2021 ‘in the Hebden Bridge area’.

In autumn last year West Yorkshire Police also recorded the fatal shooting of another kestrel, in the Pudsey area of Leeds (see here).

Kestrel shot and killed in West Yorkshire

Every report of a shot raptor is shameful, but there’s just something even more senseless about shooting a kestrel.

[Photo by Annette Cutts]

A kestrel has been shot and killed in the Pudsey area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, according to a tweet from West Yorkshire Police’s Leeds Wildlife and Rural Crime Team today.

No further details have been made available yet, i.e. date, specific location or type of weapon etc.

If anyone has any information please contact West Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote the crime reference number #13200496679.

Kestrel attacked with baseball bat: West Yorkshire Police seek witnesses

West Yorkshire Police’s Wildlife & Rural Team (Leeds) attended an incident in Bradley Park, Huddersfield where someone had attacked a kestrel with a baseball bat.

The date and time of the incident is not given in this police tweet posted yesterday but police are appealing for witnesses who haven’t already come forward to please do so now.

If you saw this incident or have information relating to it please call the police on 101 and quote ref # 13200421413.


£10,500 reward for info on four poisoned peregrines

Last week we blogged about the 4th peregrine confirmed to have been illegally poisoned with banned toxins in the Channel Islands (see here).

[Two of the four poisoned peregrines, along with the pigeon that had been laced with poisons and used as bait. Photo via Alderney Bird Observatory]

It was reported that a 5th (unidentified) raptor had been submitted for toxicology analysis and that a reward of £5,000 was on offer for information leading to a conviction.

That fifth raptor has now been reported to be a kestrel – toxicology results are pending.

[The dead kestrel. Photo via Guernsey Animal Aid]

In early August the reward for information had increased from £5,000 to £7,500 but according to Alderney Bird Observatory the reward now stands at £10,500.

If you have any information that could help this investigation please contact Sue Vidamour at Guernsey Animal Aid: 07781 150388.

Buzzard & kestrel confirmed illegally poisoned in Derbyshire

In March 2020, just after the start of lockdown, Derbyshire Constabulary reported the suspected poisoning of a kestrel and a buzzard, both found dead next to the remains of a pigeon at Ault Hucknall near Chesterfield (see here).

[Photo via Derbyshire Constabulary]

Samples were sent for toxicology analysis and last week the police received the findings. Both birds had been illegally poisoned with the banned pesticide Aldicarb.

This news was published on the Rural Crime Team’s Facebook page (see below). We haven’t been able to find any further news reports, for e.g. on the Derbyshire Constabulary website or in the local press.

These latest illegal poisonings are not the first in this area. A total of six buzzards were also illegally poisoned in neighbouring Glapwell between 2015-2016 (2 x buzzards, March 2015; 1 x buzzard & pheasant bait, February 2016; 3 x buzzards & pheasant bait, March 2016). Alphachloralose was the poison used in those cases.

[Some of the poisoned buzzards and a pheasant bait found at Glapwell in 2016, photos via RSPB]

There is a record of those poisonings in the RSPB’s 2016 BirdCrime report (here) and a short video, here:

It is quite clear that somebody in this area has access to banned poisons and is not afraid to set out poisonous baits that could kill anyone unfortunate to come in to contact with them, let alone wildlife and domestic animals and pets.

Let’s hope we see a continued publicity drive from Derbyshire Constabulary – these crimes warrant maximum awareness and exposure.

UPDATE 15th March 2022: Multi-agency searches in raptor poisoning hotspot in Derbyshire (here)

More birds of prey illegally killed in & around Peak District National Park

As conservationists continue to express concern for the safety of the visiting Bearded Vulture in the Peak District National Park (e.g. see here), the RSPB has published a blog detailing more cases of confirmed and suspected illegal raptor persecution that have been recorded in the area since the beginning of lockdown.

[This shot buzzard had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]

The RSPB’s updated list includes the following, some of which have already featured on this blog and some which haven’t previously been publicised:

NEW: In the north of the National Park, the remains of a short-eared owl, an amber-listed species, were found on a grouse moor near Glossop on 7 May. A post-mortem recently concluded that shooting had been the cause of death. No leads were forthcoming from police enquiries.

NEW: Near Agden Reservoir, an area dominated by driven grouse moors, four raven chicks were found dead in a nest also on 11 May. The parent birds had been seen bringing food to the young, then vanished without explanation. The chicks were almost at the point of fledging, and the RSPB say the adults were exceptionally unlikely abandon the nest at that stage. The incident is being investigated by South Yorkshire Police.

NEW: Test results are awaited in connection with an adult peregrine found dead in the Upper Derwent Valley.

NEW: In the south, just outside the National Park an eyewitness reported seeing two buzzards being shot near Ashbourne on 1 April 2020. A member of the public was watching the two birds circling a wood, on land managed for pheasant shooting, when he heard a shot and saw the birds fall. There’s no comment about a police investigation.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: On 11 May, a buzzard was found mortally wounded on land managed for gamebird shooting near Diggle. It was found alive but with terrible injuries and sadly had to be euthanized. An x-ray revealed six pieces of shot lodged in the bird’s body. [This crime has previously been blogged about here]

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: In the south of the Park, a buzzard and two peregrines are being tested for poison after being found dead in Staffordshire. [These incidents have previously been blogged about here] [Confirmed illegally poisoned. See UPDATE at foot of this blog]

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: In mid-June, Derbyshire Police issued an appeal for information after three peregrine nests were robbed of their eggs, all within the National Park. The RSPB alerted the police about one of the incidents. [These incidents have previously been blogged about here]

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: A dead kestrel and a buzzard have also gone for poison testing: they were found near Glapwell, where several buzzards were found poisoned in 2016. [These incidents have previously been blogged about here] [Confirmed illegally poisoned. see UPDATE at foot of blog].

To read the RSPB blog in full please click here

The RSPB’s Head of Investigations, Mark Thomas, was also on BBC Radio Derby a few days ago talking about the ongoing killing of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park. Available here (starts 3hrs 16) for 24 days.

UPDATE 3rd August 2020: Buzzard and kestrel confirmed illegally poisoned in Derbyshire (here)

UPDATE 2nd October 2020: Birds of prey illegally poisoned in Staffordshire / Peak District National Park (see here)

Buzzard & kestrel suspected poisoned in Derbyshire

Derbyshire Constabulary has published the following message on social media this evening:

Derbyshire Rural Crime Team is investigating after two birds of prey were found dead in the Ault Hucknall area of Chesterfield.

A Kestrel and a Buzzard were found on Monday 23 March. Initial investigations lead us to believe they have been poisoned rather than shot.

The birds have been recovered and an investigation launched.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rural Crime Team by emailing quoting reference 20000159754.

You can also pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or visiting


Well done to the police for a very speedy notification. Obviously the investigation is still in the early stages although the proximity of a plucked wood pigeon in these photos is probably a big clue.

UPDATE 3rd August 2020: Buzzard and kestrel confirmed illegally poisoned in Derbyshire (here)