Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Little Surprise

Birders with eyes on the skies and ears to the ground will not be surprised by a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) report that raptor persecution shows no signs of slowing down across the UK.  Are we also shocked to learn that while the figures are scandalous enough, they simply scratch the surface when many incidents go undetected and unreported? 

Another Bird Blog has alluded to this in the past when in this part of Lancashire the Common Buzzard mysteriously disappears from regular locations where countryside folk love their shoots.  Exchanges with such folk reveals a huge distaste for Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and Peregrines. In many cases the same people have little or zero knowledge of each species other than their own ingrained prejudices and misconceptions about "hook-bills". 




The RSPB revealed this week that 2018 saw 67 incidents of bird of prey persecution confirmed in England alone, equalling the previous highest in the country noted way back in 2007. These figures come as the RSPB’s Raptor Persecution Hub, originally launched in 2018, and now for the first time depicting a full 12 years' worth of confirmed raptor persecution incidents back to 2007. 

There’s an interactive map where a user can filter and search for incidents in their own locality.  The visual map makes for a better appreciation of a problem that will not go away.

RSPB - Raptor Persecution 

Over a 12-year period, 22 species of bird of prey were targeted. Species of highest conservation concern include Hen Harrier (13 incidents), Northern Goshawk (24), White-tailed Eagle (4) and Golden Eagle (14). 

Common Buzzard is the most frequently persecuted, with 428 incidents involving the species. Red Kite is in second place with 189 incidents and Peregrine Falcon - 131 in third. 

Red Kite 

Other victims include Eurasian Hobby, multiple Long-eared and Little Owls and singles of Red-footed Falcon and Eurasian Eagle-Owl. The Red-footed Falcon was well documented at the time, a well-twitched bird seen in Staffordshire and Lincolnshire before being found shot in Cambridgeshire. 

Red-footed Falcon 

There are several clear black-spots, where persecution is highly prevalent with little surprise that the majority are in areas of upland habitat, often used for driven grouse shooting: 
  •  North Yorkshire accounts for more than 10% of the 1,200+ incidents over the 2007-18 period,   with   132 at an average of 11 per year. 
  • Highland Scotland with 71 incidents (5.6%)
  • Scottish Borders at 58 incidents (4.6%) 
  • Angus at 44 incidents (3.5%) 
Shooting is the most common form of persecution with 484 confirmed such instances. Poisoning was close behind on 472. A further 194 were due to trapping of which 104 were pole/spring traps, while 30 findings were of nest destruction. 

The figures above are simply the number exposed and will have little bearing on the actual number of birds of prey targeted in the year while detection rates remain low. Mounting evidence shows that crimes against raptors are more covert as the perpetrators become more secretive in their movements. This follows the enactment of vicarious liability legislation and the increased use of satellite tags to monitor raptors and a reduction in poisoning incidents, presumably because such crimes become increasingly easy to detect. 


The figures show that few areas of the UK are unaffected. It is also obvious that the highest concentration of these incidents tend to occur where the land is managed for intensive driven grouse shooting. 

The RSPB - “This data underpins the need for urgent changes which must be made to protect our magnificent birds of prey, and put an end to this appalling slaughter once and for all."

Linking today to  Anni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday Blogspot.


Rhodesia said...

I am horrified by these numbers and I thought France was bad enough for hunting!! The Peregrine is a beautiful bird and a bird with great character, I have seen them working in South Africa and I fell in love from the start. Shooting any bird is beyond me, and when it comes to poisoning how cruel can the human race get as well as trapping. It makes me angry and sad.
Keep well Diane

Wally Jones said...

A change in thinking for shooters must take place before any of this will improve. A "sport" shooter must be convinced there is as much pleasure to be gained at a range with stationary targets or clay "pigeons" as there is in slaughtering a farm-raised grouse which is essentially put in front of their gun barrel.

Once the money flows to managed gun ranges and game bird shooting is outlawed, the raising of birds and maintenance of game-shooting areas will become extinct.

It's all about the money. Take away the profit, save a raptor.

Gini and I hope your week has been going well and that you are getting some respite from storms.

Angie said...

I haven't had the best of days, and I came blogging in the hope for some escape. Sigh. Don't you just wish for some good news every now and then? It seems the world over that there are folks that can only get their jollies by killing something. (Deeper) sigh.

Elkes Lebensglück said...

is that sweet the little Sparrowhawk!!!
What a beautiful animal and nature world you have. Your report is always exciting!!
Have agood weekend, Elke

eileeninmd said...


I do not agree with any sport hunting, especially birds. The Buzzard is a beautiful bird. Great collection of raptors and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

Anu said...

Hello Phil. This is important post.
I think that in all European countries there are much poaching.
It is a sad thing.

sandyland said...

many here in fl near lake

Linda said...

Lovely photos. Very interesting post to read.

Saun said...

Wow, this was an interesting post Im in shock....Nice photos to go along with your words.

Saun in Ohio, USA

Shiju Sugunan said...

Interesting post! I like the falcons.

Anni said...

Why on earth does this go on? I can only think of the old adage "Ignorance is bliss" this case, tho, when these so important creatures are gone for good, that ignorance won't be blissful any more - and too late to turn back the clock!

Thank you for sharing the heart wrenching and frightful stats Phil. Hopefully your words will be noticed.

~Anni at I'd Rather B Birdin

Veronica Lee said...

This is so sad. I hope this senseless killing of these beautiful creatures will be stopped.

Great post, Phil.

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