Thursday, October 9, 2014

More Buzzard Bashing

Buzzards continue to be in the news for the right reasons as bird watchers celebrate the species success. Meanwhile Buzzards also make the headlines but for the wrong reasons. Yes, certain sections of the shooting fraternity continue to break the law by killing Buzzards.

Here’s the latest tale of a wretched mentality courtesy of Birdguides, Alan Tilmouth, Raptor Politics, and with not a little help from the splendid folk at The British Trust for Ornithology. 


Allen Lambert worked as a gamekeeper on the Stody estate in north Norfolk. On 1 October 2014, he appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court and was found guilty of two charges relating to the killing of 10 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk on the estate, and possession of pesticides and other items capable of being used to prepare poison baits. 

A key part of the case for the defence was the idea that the number of dead Buzzards found was too high to have been achieved through illegal poisoning in one area and that the carcasses must therefore have been 'planted' on Mr Lambert. When the experts were consulted, however, BTO quickly provided the robust evidence to refute the claim. 

Counts of Buzzards in north Norfolk from the same time period as the crimes took place (March–April) were extracted from BirdTrack and mapped. These counts were logged by ordinary birdwatchers during their day-to-day birding. Who could have foreseen that the simple action of recording sightings in BirdTrack would realise the immense value of such 'normal' observations in this way? 

As well as proving beyond doubt that double-figure counts of Buzzards are a regular occurrence in Norfolk these days, the data collected by BTO volunteers was used in court to highlight the recent population increase and range expansion of Buzzard. Data from Bird Atlas 2007–11 and the Norfolk Bird Atlas were used to show the eastward spread and increasing population density since the previous breeding atlas in 1988–91, while CBC/BBS data spanning 5 decades helped emphasise the recent, dramatic population increase.” 

Allen Lambert was employed by estate owner and former president of the Country Landowners Association and former trustee of The Game Conservancy (now known as the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) Ian Macnicol, a man at the centre of the game and shooting industry. Since Macnicol’s death his son Charlie is said to manage the estate. 

Farm Subsidy Payments of £1,408,502.30 have been paid to the Stody estate from the European Union Farm Subsidies fund since 2004. So dear readers, you and I have paid the wages of this criminal and over the years employed him to kill probably countless Buzzards and other raptors. 

Mr Lambert receives his “sentence” in November and if all goes to according to the normal way of such things in the UK he will probably face a slap on the wrist and a derisory fine rather than a well-deserved spell in Her Majesty’s Prisons where he could mix with criminals of the same ilk. 

Mr Lambert is almost certainly not on his own in killing Buzzards. 

I remarked on this blog recently how Buzzards have vanished from some regular and quite precise haunts of recent years in this part of NW Lancashire, The Fylde. Buzzards are very faithful to an area they adopt and have good longevity so why they would inexplicably disappear from previously successful and suitable sites is an apparent mystery. 


This part of Lancashire has a long tradition of game shooting and although I have no proof, I urge every bird watcher to keep as close an eye as possible on local shoots and the “management” methods on the land they shoot over, as I suspect Buzzards are here too being killed unlawfully.

This advice also applies to any other part of the UK where Buzzards have made a natural comeback but where certain people would wish to deny our Buzzards this sucess.     


The photographs of Buzzards are my own from recent days. I hope I will see and photograph many more of these wonderful birds in the future. 


Lew Newman said...

Your warning for people to keep their eyes peeled for illegal activities on the shooting front is very pertinent.

Margaret Adamson said...

WOW! Phil these are fantastic flight shots.

EG CameraGirl said...

Your photos are great, Phil. How sad that some people feel it's all right to kill buzzards!

David Gascoigne said...

Great account, Phil. It is sad to read the extent of illegal slaughter that still goes on. I'd be interested to know what the sentence is if you are able to follow this affair to its conclusion.

Choy Wai Mun said...

It's such a shame to know of these senseless killings. Buzzards are truly wonderful birds. Good shots, by the way.

Choy Wai Mun said...

It's such a shame to know of these senseless killings. Buzzards are truly wonderful birds. Good shots, by the way.

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