Scottish police search sporting estate following the disappearance of tagged White-tailed eagle

Police vehicles
Police officers carried out a search of the North Glenbuchat Estate
Scottish police officers have searched the North Glenbuchat Estate after  first white-tailed sea eagle to be raised in the east of Scotland in almost 200 years disappeared off the radar.

Maltese Police officer now faces fine for insulting BirdLife volunteers


The police officer who earlier this week allegedly described BirdLife members as “faggots” is facing a maximum penalty of seven days’ wages if found guilty.

A Police spokesman that the officer now faces a maximum penalty of a week’s wages, and may also be reassigned to another department within the force.

Peregrine falcon found shot dead near Stirling

Reading about the unacceptable slaughter of migrating birds on the island of Malta, including many rare and endangered raptors has highlighted to people across the world, just why these birds need better protection, not just on Malta but in many other European countries and in the Middle East. Sadly today we are brought back to our own shores where raptors continue to be persecuted, not just on grouse moors but also areas close to our own homes. Police Scotland are reporting that a peregrine falcon was found shot and  have launched an investigation into the death of the  falcon which was found in a quarry after being killed illegally.


Peregrine shot by a camera, a much better way, courtesy of Sam Hobson

 Raptor workers found the four-year-old peregrine in Cambusbarron Quarry near Stirling while they were carrying out monitoring work. One thing is certain, as the falcon was not shot on a grouse moor we are certain the death had nothing to do with gamekeepers.

Police Scotland are working with the Scottish Raptor Study Group and the RSPB to try and establish the circumstances of the bird’s death.

Pc Malcolm O’May, Forth Valley division’s wildlife crime officer, said: “Police Scotland takes the persecution of these magnificent birds of prey very seriously and we will be doing all we can to identify the person responsible for this crime.

“We will be working with the local community and our partners in RSPB, but I would ask anyone who has been in the Cambusbarron Quarry over the last few months to get in touch with us, you may hold crucial information that will assist in catching those responsible.”

The bird was found on April 15.


Female Peregrine Falcon: courtesy of Terry Pickford

Committee Against Bird Slaughter locates 72 illegal electronic lures in Maltese countryside

A CABS photo showing the two hunters it claims shot three birds each near Buskett on Saturday.

A CABS photo showing the two hunters it claims shot three birds each near Buskett on Saturday.

Hunters have installed an estimated three-figure number of illegal electronic lures for quail and protected waders in the Maltese countryside, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said today.

Continue reading Committee Against Bird Slaughter locates 72 illegal electronic lures in Maltese countryside

Maltese Police officer calls BirdLife members ‘faggots,’ one volunteer arrested

Should spring hunting on Malta be stopped?

As dawn breaks over the sea and ancient stone churches turn pink, the morning’s stillness is broken by volleys of gunfire. Tucked behind walls, sitting on armchairs in specially built turrets or else popping up from old stone sheds, Malta’s marksmen open fire as migrating birds flap desperately for cover.



When it comes to bird hunts, this is one of Europe’s more uneven contests. Birds flying over the islands of Malta on their annual migration to northern Europe must evade 31 licensed marksmen per square kilometre – 15 times more than in shooting-friendly France. On one day in 2013, more than 9,000 shots were logged by a conservation charity’s observers. Continue reading Should spring hunting on Malta be stopped?

North Yorkshire’s Shame, one of England’s worst counties for bird of prey persecution.

Persecution by poison of Red Kites reintroduced onto the Harewood estate near Harrogate in North Yorkshire are reported a  “national disgrace.”  as it emerges 14  Red Kites had been killed with deadly poisons. North Yorkshire has been named one of England’s  worst counties for persecution in England and Wales since 1991, with the RSPB reporting 87 raptors have been confirmed shot, poisoned, or trapped.

Red Kite dead

Poisoned Red Kite

Continue reading North Yorkshire’s Shame, one of England’s worst counties for bird of prey persecution.

Diclofenac the drug that has killed hundreds if not thousands of vultures has been approved for use in Spain.

 Vulture populations in many regions of Africa and India have been decimated by the use of Dicopenac
Spain approves use of drug beneficial to mammals – that will kill any vulture that feeds on a carcass containing traces of it. Despite their unappealing looks, vultures make a vital contribution to public health in southern Europe. But Spain, which is home to about 100,000 vultures, has horrified conservationists and bird lovers by approving the use of diclophenac – a powerful anti-inflammatory drug used that is beneficial to mammals but will kill any vulture that feeds on a carcass containing traces of the drug.

Malta:Suspicions as shot bird reports soar at end of season

A Marsh Harrier with wings damaged by lead shotgun pellets seen on April 17 . Photo: Birdlife Malta

A Marsh Harrier with wings damaged by lead shotgun pellets seen on April 17 . Photo: Birdlife Malta

Reports sent to the European Commission on the spring hunting derogation over the past three years consistently show a spike in hunters’ SMS reports in the last three days of the season, raising concerns on the data’s validity. During the spring hunting season, hunters are legally obliged to report shot birds immediately via a text message to the authorities. But for three years in a row, the bulk of SMS reports lodged occur at the end of the season, leading to suspicion that hunters are not reporting shot birds early in the season to avoid quotas being reached.SMS reports of turtle doves shot 2011 – 2013.SMS reports of turtle doves shot 2011 – 2013.

Hunting migrating birds on their return to breed in Europe in spring is illegal under the Birds Directive, but derogations (or exceptions) may be made where strict conditions are enforced – including the number of birds that can be killed.

Accurate reporting to the EU on the number of birds shot is crucial to avoid punitive fines.

The Wild Birds Regulation Unit, set up under the Environment Ministry to oversee the implementation of government policy on hunting, acknowledged this discrepancy.

Pressed for an explanation, a spokesman for the unit said: “It is an issue we have looked into quite closely. According to feedback we got from the hunters, the most plausible explanation would be that more hunters were actually present in the field in those last days of the season because of the proximity to a public holiday.”

The SMS system is completely flawed
That explanation was included in the country’s reports to the European Commission.

Yet, conservationists monitoring spring hunting illegalities in the field have an alternative interpretation of the data.

“The increased reporting at the end of the 2013 spring hunting season was similarly registered in 2011 and 2012, and continues to show how the SMS system is completely flawed given the hunters’ own reluctance to faithfully report catches earlier in the season for fear of national bag quotas being reached,” Birdlife Malta said.

Such concerns are amplified when the SMS reporting on hunting is compared to data from a study on migratory birds simultaneously being conducted during the spring hunting seasons.

Peaks in bird migration ought to correlate with peaks in SMS reports on hunting.

In fact, this occurs quite consistently, until the last days in the season when SMS reports on targeted birds shoot up even when bird migration is low.

Government recently said Malta deploys one of the most elaborate and rigorous hunting bag verification and control regimes anywhere in Europe.

But the data that Malta sends to the European Commission to justify the derogation is dependent on hunters honestly self-reporting their kills.

The authorities insist there are multiple levels of control. Hunters have to report shot birds in their carnet de chasse and send a text message to the authorities.

Both tools hinge on hunters’ compliance, but spot checks in the field aim to address any under-reporting, the Wild Bird Regulations Unit said.

Turtle dove and quail migration vs declared shots in 2013.Turtle dove and quail migration vs declared shots in 2013.

A spokesman said inspections in the field have doubled this year and penalties are harsher: “We are reasonably confident that the reporting reflected trends. “However, we cannot ignore claims that seek to undermine the whole system.”

The spring hunting season for turtle dove and quail opened on April 12 and will last until the end of the month. The quota this year is 11,000 turtle doves and 5,000 quail to be shared among 9,798 spring hunting licenses.

This translates into half a quail and one turtle dove per hunter.

By Caroline Muscat

Caerlaverock Ospreys web cam.


The nesting pair of Scottish Osprey at Caerlaverock Wetlands Centre laid their second egg yesterday. Ospreys have been nesting near the reserve since 2009 and successfully reared young on three consecutive years. The Caeraverock  female’s three successful breeding years (2009-2011) were with a male we known as AW (the letters on his leg ring).

View the web cam here