Britain’s biggest bird of prey is back from extinction and thriving on Mull. It’s great news for wildlife tourists, but the sheep farmers are yet to be convinced. With wings like planks and a meat-cleaver for a beak, the white-tailed eagle fixes its eyeballs (twice as large as ours) on the boat. Taking great scoops of air with each flap, it stretches yellow talons to pluck a fish from the water.
Britain’s biggest bird of prey passes three milestones this spring. It is 40 years since a revolutionary reintroduction programme began to return the white-tailed eagle, also known as the sea eagle, to the Scottish Highlands; 30 years since the first chicks fledged; and this year, the number of nesting pairs will exceed 100 for the first time. But for all the celebrations, some people still detest our biggest carnivorous creature.
One of our followers kindly sent details of a Radio 4 programme where the row started by Sir Ian Botham ‘You Forgot the Birds’ (meaning the hen harrier) is debated by Ian Gregory a representative from the shooting industry, and Martin Harper on the other side from the RSPB. We decided to add the link to the broadcast because we feel the arguments from both sides are interesting and illuminating and in the public interest ; we are not trying in any way to promote one side or the other, although quite frankly some of the ideas being put forward by ‘You Forgot the Birds’ and Sir Ian Botham are rather like pie in the sky. We do however believe the more public interest we can generate relating to the persecution of hen harriers, all the better. We will leave you to make up your own minds. Click onto this link and begin listening at 06.00 minutes on the slider. We would welcome your comments please.
The following words are those of a gamekeeper, not the words of Raptor Politics. We would like to thank Trapit for having the courage to speak out. His last sentence tells it all.
In the late nineties,as the first Langholm report was being published, I was at a local Pheasant shoot talking to the head-keeper of a moor that historically had held the record for the number of Grouse shot in a single day.Trapit, he said, why have all the birdwatchers turned against us so much? Well ***** I said,you have killed too much stuff,all over the north of England it’s got too intense.
We received a request from one of our followers over the weekend asking if we would publish details of the above proposal by Scotland’s Moorland Forum. The Moorland Forum has commissioned a project titled ‘Understanding Predation’ to achieve a number of objectives by January 2016 which we have listed below: We have also added a link to the Forum’s web page explaining their objectives, methodology and conclusions below for anyone interested.
Hello Raptor Politics
I’m at the Scottish Bird Fair for Mull Eagle Watch this weekend and spoke to a person from the Scottish Moorland Forum. I shared something about it on facebook a while ago when I stumbled across the blog online. What I heard and read today made me even more concerned. Here are the key points of the “Understanding Predators” project that they have been running, much based on anecdotal evidence and opinion rather than science:
- How environmental and human factors may impact on wild bird species
- How predator species may impact on wild bird species
- Different techniques for managing predator-prey interactions.
One thing I’ve noticed, a lot in other paper articles is the “wild birds” and predators aren’t classed as the same thing anymore! Only the prey species are ever mentioned as being wild birds, what do they think the predators are?
No one from a conservation background seems to have a clue about this project and it seems RSPB don’t want to tell anyone. So currently all the feedback and anecdotal evidence is from the keepers/farmers side.
Wondered if you would cover this on RP and keep up the good work you are doing?
Migrating golden eagles could be slaughtered in their hundreds in Ontario
Wind projects in southern Ontario clutter the lake shores, which are followed by millions of birds during migrations – map credit: http://ontario-wind-turbines.org/ Whereas in Michigan, Huron County has imposed a 3-mile buffer zonebetween wind turbines and the shores of Lake Huron.
In October/November each year, as snow covers their hunting grounds, golden eagles from Canada fly south to warmer climates in the United States. Those migrating from Northern Ontario and the western half of Quebec (all the way up to the Ungava Peninsula) must deal with a major obstacle: the Great Lakes.
The following Research Article was first published in the Journal.pone on 20 May 2015. The article was given an open access certification for republication. We realised before publishing that the information may be of only small interest to many of our followers and is quite long and in depth, however there will be many raptor enthusiasts among our followers who may wish to take the time to read the article which in our view is very interesting.
We compared diet estimates obtained by direct camera monitoring of 80 nests with four indirect analyses of prey remains collected from the nests and surroundings (pellets, bones, feather-and-hair remains, and feather-hair-and-bone remains combined). In addition, we evaluated the performance of the trail-cameras and whether camera monitoring affected Goshawk behavior. The sensitivity of each diet-analysis method depended on prey size and taxonomic group, with no method providing unbiased estimates for all prey sizes and types. The cameras registered the greatest number of prey items and were probably the least biased method for estimating diet composition. Nevertheless this direct method yielded the largest proportion of prey unidentified to species level, and it underestimated small prey.
A gamekeeper on one of Scotland’s most popular sporting estates has been successfully prosecuted for using inhumane victorian gin traps outlawed in Britain for more than 50 years. James O’Reilly, 50, was caught after a member of the public found a seriously injured buzzard, which later had to be put down, in one of the traps and alerted the authorities. Several other traps, a “stink pit” full of decomposing bait and a snared fox were then found near his staff cottage on the family-owned 5000-acre Cardross Estate near Flanders Moss in Stirlingshire.
The 3 stuffed Hen Harriers inside this display cabinet were obtained from the Forest of Bowland. The Harriers were initially photographed by the licensed award winning photographer Dennis Green from a hide. After being killed the Harriers were stuffed then displayed throughout the photographer’s home as trophies. The photographer’s licensed activities went unnoticed for several years until eventually when police raided his premises 99 illegally killed stuffed birds, including additional Hen Harriers and Short-eared owls, were discovered in his garage and inside his home, enough material to fill two transit vans. None of Green’s co-conspirators were ever charged with killing any of the exhibits recovered by the police.