Suppress the truth by shooting the messenger

[singlepic id=295 w=200 h=200 float=left]This year Natural England announced changes to their licensing policy for Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland after claiming too many duplicate and uncoordinated nest visits were being undertaken in the area, in particular on moorland owned by United Utilities Plc. This excuse is the old chestnut and has been used  in the past by the Licensing Authority to restrict licenses held by members of the NWRPG without any tangible or credible evidence to back up such claims. Last year two hen harrier nests were discovered accidentally, one 25th April the second on 2nd May, by licensed members of the NWRPG on UU’s water catchments in the Forest of Bowland. Kevin Moore a member of the NWRPG while walking on public access land on the UU estate spotted an object through his binoculars he considered was out of place in such a remote area and decided to investigate. What Mr Moore found was a small video camera which had been placed on top of a wooden post looking down into a harrier nest containing 6 eggs. Acting responsibly Mr Moore decided as the nest appeared abandoned to walk away to a suitably safe distance and view the area from under a camouflage net. After 15 minutes he observed a female hen harrier flying towards the camera carrying strands of grass in one talon. After the bird landed in heather Mr Moore left the area and reported his surprising find to Terry Pickford a founder member of the NWRPG. Mr Pickford immediately reported what he had been told to Mr Stephen Murphy Natural England’s National Hen Harrier Coordinator. Mr. Murphy was concerned to learn about the camera and informed Mr Pickford he knew nothing about it. As Mr Murphy clearly had no prior knowledge of the camera, or who had installed it at a harrier nest, this would appear to indicate the nest had been visited intentionally without any prior coordination with Mr Murphy. Several days later when Kevin Moore and a fellow raptor worker Paul Williams met up with Mr. Murphy on the UU estate he confirmed the RSPB had installed the camera. What better example could there be of an intentional and uncoordinated nest visit, and what we might ask was done by NE – precisely nothing. One set of rules for the NWRPG another for the RSPB.

In view of the detail contained in the e-mail below sent to Mr. Pickford by the British Trust for Ornithology at the request of Natural England this year, the unintentional discovery of two harrier nests resulted in the loss of licenses previously held by the group for over 30 years for use on the UU estate. This appears to be totally unjust and illogical when compared to the intentional and uncoordinated nest visits undertaken by non members of the NWRPG last year which it appears are being disregarded. As the above example clearly demonstrates, where “uncoordinated but intentional” nest visits are undertaken by the RSPB or their volunteers these activities are simply dismissed altogether by Natural England.

E-mail sent to Mr. Pickford by the BTO at Natural England’s request

“In order to prevent uncoordinated visits to hen harrier nests in the future you will not be issued with a hen harrier Permit for 2011, as the accredited agents you were responsible for in 2010 did not make the appropriate consultation (either direct or via you). We accept there may be a possibility that such hen harrier nest visits by your accredited agents were unintentional, and therefore prior consultation could not take place. However, we would not expect experienced field workers to unintentionally visit hen harrier nests and to discourage this, or prevent visits without prior consultation your permit will not include hen harriers in Lancashire.”

The monitoring of hen harriers, peregrine and merlin on UU land are covered by RSPB and their registered volunteers and therefore no permits will be issued by the BTO for UU land unless RSPB confirm that they are working with a particular raptor worker.

Because of the irrational reason provided by Natural England for revoking licenses held by the local raptor group for their use on the UU estate this year, the NWRPG submitted several “Freedom of Information” requests to Natural England. The first request asked NE to supply details of all known incidents, including times and dates, of duplicate and uncoordinated visits made to peregrine and hen harrier nests last year undertaken by any member of the NWRPG. The e-mail reply the group received from NE was very curious but significantly important never the less. The information received did not refer to duplicate or indeed any nest visit as requested it described instead crucial hen harrier behaviour observed by two voluntary field workers at the territory which had been visited by Mr Moore several hours earlier on the same day.

Natural England e-mail provided under the Freedom of Information Act.

A pair of harriers were seen making figure of eights over a large field of heather. On closer examination, saw female was tagged red on the right wing. Frequently, they settled for short periods, but as often happens the male suddenly mounted her, (sub adult), lasting seconds, then began preening. At 1.30pm, she stretched her wings and lifted then treated us to a period of nest building, pulling up fine grasses with her talons which lasted nearly half an hour. After which, alighted within thirty yards of nest, a couple of minutes later a female merlin swept over her head causing her to duck. Not long afterwards, proceeded further on our way, climbing over the fence line. Looked back she was still perched.

After a number of hen harrier experts had been shown the content of this e-mail they each concluded the hen harrier behaviour  described strongly suggested to each of them the harrier nest containing 6 eggs had already been abandoned before Mr. Moore’s discovery of the camera, and therefore the failure of the nest could not have been attributed to Mr Moore.

As a result of NE’s disclosure a further request under the Freedom of Information legislation has now been sent to NE asking for important additional details, in particular the precise date and time the RSPB installed the video camera over-looking this particular hen harrier nest. As NE are suggesting (without proof), Mr Moore’s so called “uncoordinated” nest visit lasting less than 2 minutes may have caused the failure of the harrier nest, NE have also been asked to provide the precise date and time the camera last recorded a harrier at this nest and at what time the harrier first returned to brood her 6 eggs following the cameras installation.

Summary of incidents

  • 25th April first hen harrier nest containing 2 eggs located by Paul Williams Jr, the son of Mr Paul Williams. The existence of this nest was not previously known to Mr Williams and there had been no intention on the day the nest was found to look for hen harrier nests. The nest discovered was located by accident while innocently walking across access land while looking for merlin. Information of the nest’s location was passed to Mr Stephen Murphy and RSPB.
  • 2nd May Kevin Moore discovered video camera at hen harrier nest containing 6 eggs. Natural England illogically claim this was an uncoordinated and duplicate nest visit and may have caused the nest to be deserted. No hen harriers alarming and harriers were not present at nest and no incubation taking place when camera located by Moore. After staying for less than 2 minutes at camera, Mr. Moore walked a distance of 400 metres and after 15 minutes observed female harrier carrying fine grasses in one talon into heather. Reported find to Terry Pickford on same day. Terry Pickford contacted Mr Stephen Murphy National Hen Harrier Coordinator informing details of camera find. Murphy confirms he knew nothing about camera installation at all. Several days later Murphy confirms same information to Mr Moore and Mr. Williams telling them camera installed by RSPB without his knowledge. Conclusion, nest visit to install camera “intentionally” carried out without any prior “consultation” with Mr Murphy. NWRPG request RSPB to provide the location of each harrier nest in Bowland to avoid disturbance as a result of accidental discovery. RSPB readily oblige by providing list requested, no further problems reported that season.

 Before proceeding with further analogies, it would be useful to reiterate what NE have already stated about the unintentional location of hen harriers nests and particularly what NE commented about preventing visits without prior consultation.

We accept there may be a possibility that such hen harrier nest visits by your accredited agents were unintentional, and therefore prior consultation could not take place. However, we would not expect experienced field workers to unintentionally visit hen harrier nests and to discourage this, or prevent visits without prior consultation, your permit will not include hen harriers in Lancashire

If NE are prepared to accept there may be a possibility the harrier nest containing 2 eggs found in April by Paul Williams Jr. and the camera installed without any coordination found in May by Mr Moore could have been unintentional, what have NE to say about the intentional and uncoordinated nest visit undertaken to install the video camera at a nest containing 6 eggs? Experts consulted about the hen harrier behaviour recorded by the two volunteers several hours after Mr Moore had found the camera suggest the following possibility. The nest had already been deserted as a result of disturbance caused by the installation of the camera; the sub adult female (immature female) observed building a new nest on the day Mr Moore located the camera, may have been brought into the territory by the adult male after his original mate (adult female) had disappeared resulting in the nest’s failure.

Examples of Natural England’ Duplicity & Double Standards Approach

  •  13th April RSPB volunteer accompanied by his young grandson made an uncoordinated and intentional visit to a peregrine ground nest containing eggs. The volunteer had already been advised about the nests existance just 5 days previously. After falcons seen flying over nest in a distressed state from the road, a distance of over half mile, peregrine coordinator contacted by mobile to establish if any licensed raptor worker had coordinated a visit to this nest that day. Coordinator confirmed no licensed raptor worker should be at nest. After Police called further investigation established presence in territory of licensed raptor worker an RSPB volunteer; to avoid embarrassment police called a second time advised to stand down as identity confirmed. The man and his grandson were recorded by two observers near the nest drinking from a thermos. When challenged, the volunteer admitted the falcons had been off their nest for at least one hour. Several weeks later when nest re-examined by a member of the NWRPG, it was discovered the RSPB volunteer had left pair of black gloves in nest. Incident disregarded by Natural England.

It is vitally important to recall once again the words used by Natural England in their e-mail the BTO was instructed to send to Terry Pickford referring to his accredited agents, Mr. Moore and Mr. Williams.

“In order to prevent uncoordinated visits to hen harrier nests in the future you will not be issued with a hen harrier Permit for 2011, as the accredited agents you were responsible for in 2010 did not make the appropriate consultation (either direct or via you ).” We accept there may be a possibility that such hen harrier nest visits by your accredited agents were unintentional, and therefore prior consultation could not take place. However, we would not expect experienced field workers to unintentionally visit hen harrier nests and to discourage this, or prevent visits without prior consultation your permit will not include hen harriers in Lancashire.”

It would be reasonable to expect NE to apply the same principles to nest visits made by accredited agents to peregrine as well as hen harrier nests. In the more serious case described above (13th April), the RSPB volunteer who was also included on Mr. Pickford’s licence as an accredited agent was treated entirely different by Natural England, even though his nest visit had been intentional, uncoordinated and totally unnecessary.

As the RSPB volunteer  was also an accredited agent Mr Pickford was responsible for in 2010 did not make the appropriate consultation with him (either directly or indirectly) prior to visiting the peregrine nest, Mr. Pickford requested the BTO to remove the name of this agent from his licence with immediate effect. I find it difficult to understand why just a short time later the BTO were instructed to re-instate the licence they had removed from Mr Pickford’s agent  but this time providing a licence in the former agent’s own name. Again one set of rules for the NWRPG another for the RSPB.

  •  3rd June (same peregrine nest as 13th April incident) civilian witness observed BTO ringer and Mr. Stephen Murphy, National Hen Harrier Coordinator together with a third man at ground peregrine nest ringing 4 peregrine chicks at approximately 2.30pm. Importantly the nest had already been visited by Terry Pickford earlier on the same day to verify the number of chicks in the nest. In this instance not only was the nest visit undertaken intentionally, it was also a duplicate and uncoordinated visit which had not been arranged with the species coordinator Terry Pickford. Natural England has confirmed the BTO ringer will not be reissued with a peregrine permit in 2011 because he did not make the appropriate consultation requirements with Terry Pickford in 2010.

49 comments to Suppress the truth by shooting the messenger

  • skydancer

    Can some one please help me with this? if you dont know a nest is there and you come across it, how can it be classed as an intentional or unintentional nest visit ? and is it not access land that Mr Moore was walking on, so he was more than free to walk across the Bowland fells as he was not trespassing, it seems to me that Natural England just want the NWRPG taken off the fells so that they can carry on there skullduggery and kowtowing to the land owners. NE are just another useless government quango and the sooner they are put on the govenment “bonfire of the quangos” the better it will be for the raptors of Bowland.

  • ratherbebirding

    I think I can help Skydancer. I’ll make this as simple as possible for you. It is quite easy to avoid ‘accidentally’ visiting harrier nests if:

    1) You don’t wander around aimlessly in long heather within a traditionally used harrier territory in the spot the harriers nest in each year – whilst simultaneously claiming to be an ‘experienced raptor worker’ knowing every inch of Bowland.

    2) You have already been shown the location of the harrier nest by RSPB two weeks before you claim to ‘accidentally’ find it.

    Does that help clarify things for you?

  • Kevin Moore

    I think i can help you “ratherbebirding”, because clearly you appear to have only been told a half truth by your experienced friend, you are far too complimentary by the way, i am sorry to disappoint you, i have never stated anywhere that i was an experienced raptor worker, certainly not as experienced as your illustrious friend, nor do i wander moorland aimlessly. More important i was not shown the location of a Harrier nest by your friend at the location were i found the camera on 2nd of May.

    The RSPB volunteer you are referring to invited both myself and Mr Williams to join him on moorland looking for Harrier nests that is true. We were taken to see one Harrier nest containing 2 eggs and then visited the area where i located the camera. On that day we sat and watched Harriers flying in various locations,and under the guidance of your more experienced RSPB volunteer friend searched fruitlessly for a Harrier nest at this location.

    What your experienced friend failed to tell you of course, is that he had invited myself and Mr Williams to visit Harrier nests without first coordinating his visit to the nest containing 2 eggs before hand, then the RSPB worker then took us “wandering aimlessly” over moorland for further Harrier nests, but then again some raptor workers see themselves as above the licensing rules as the above article clearly shows.

    On that note i end this discussion as i have nothing more to say on the matter nor will i be drawn into any petty online arguements.

    Kevin Moore

  • After reading this a saying springs to mind, to many cooks spoil the broth. I understand the grievances of the NWRPG and also the position NE/RSPB are in regardless of any hidden agendas, but it seems to me there are too many people with or without licences who feel the need to visit these nests. Surely it should be either Terry and his licence holders or Mr. Murphy and his agents because it is apparent the NWRPG and NE/RSPB relationship doesn’t work and wires get crossed.

    NE & RSPB will always stick together from what I’ve read and I dare say the BTO will follow suit to a degree. The NWRPG need to keep doing there fantastic fieldwork and hope that the powers behind this see through the murky waters of above one day and fully support them. After all its about one thing, the protection and conservation of British Raptors.

    All the best.

  • E. Felton

    Let us take a look at the facts. Two organisations the North West Raptor Protection Group, and RSPB have a common ground, that being, the protection and conservation of birds, including birds of prey. I can only speak of my interactions with NWRPG because I have had very little to do with RSPB, but as a conservationist and naturalist myself, I have many times witnessed the professional conduct and responsible attitude of members of NWRGP in carrying out fieldwork (I now feel the need to address that I personally haven’t visited nest sites with members of the group nor have they invited me to visit nest sites where permits are required). What I hate to see is the constant battles that take place between organisations having a common aim. Why cannot everyone work together for the greater good of birds of prey? Reading the above article just annoys me that there are people around who are happy to dedicate their time to raptor protection, but are now being side-lined and accused of un-professional conduct by an organisation who should be encouraging their presence.

    More and more it seems that the big globally known organisations are the voice of what is going on at any given time, and the smaller more specific organisations voices are not heard. This is not just a problem with birds either. I think that NWRPG are being badly treated by Natural England, whilst RSPB licensed volunteers with their clean image are getting away with the same bad practices that NWRGP are being accused of. RSPB have over the years built a reputation for being a good organisation that care for birds, but maybe it is time for them to start policing the activities of their own volunteers, because examples of irresponsible behaviour provided in the article make the RSPB look bad in my eyes.

    The outcome I would like to see is people talking and communicating about their activities and working together for the protection of wildlife rather than keeping each other in the dark. As the NWRGP have witnessed unprofessional conduct by other licensed individuals and have been up front about it, wouldn’t it be nice if someone listened to them instead of ignoring what they have to say? Sadly I do not think this will be the end of all of this.

  • tom tit

    With respect to previous posters, I’ve always found that relationships, whether working, or otherwise, are usually based on trust and respect. Maybe something has occurred in this relationship to destroy that trust and respect, and someone has said enough is enough.

    Reading between the lines of the original posting, and what a long drawn out one it was, must have taken ages with one finger, I just get the impression from its tone that the NWRPG feel that they are above wanting to work as part of a partnership and want to be allowed free and unfettered access to monitor nests as and when they wish. Whereas the agencies involved want to establish a more regulated programme of visits to nests, thus avoiding any unnecessary disturbance of nesting birds, surely this can only be to the benefit of the birds and not just to satisfy someones damaged ego!.

    Instead of this rather aggressive approach by the NWRPG, why not just sit back for a year, regroup and come back next year with a much more positive approach, and maybe, just maybe, that trust and respect might be retrievable. If not, it is the birds who will suffer, not those damaged egos!!

    Best regards to both sides.

    • TerryPickford

      By the way, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and by attacking someone else’s post in the unnecessary and childish way you did undermined any argument you may have had.

      Not that you are interested, but you are right the trust was destroyed by the irresponsible actions of a small number of field workers outside the NWRPG who disregarded the principles of “best practice” together with their licence conditions.

      These individuals were reported by the NWRPG to Natural England for what they did. I can only speculate because of their support perhaps from the RSPB their inappropriate actions are being over-looked. The NWRPG are very particular with whom they work and with whom they share sensitive information; certainly the group will not work with anyone who does not work to best practice or follow their licence conditions.

      When an experienced field worker is told on trust of the location of a new peregrine nest which had just been located containing eggs, it is difficult to condone or accept the fact that that person then visited that nest just five days later with his grandson intentionally, without coordination and unnecessarily for self gratification purposes.

      The restrictions placed upon the NWRPG by Natural England this year are not as you suggest about the membership of the NWRPG’s free and unfettered access to nests, this is a totally ridiculous suggestion without logic, and frankly stupid. You only have to consider what has been done by the change in NE policy this year to learn who has been provided with free and unfettered access to nests. By restricting licenses to a small number of RSPB volunteers working on the United Utilities estates this year, the Licensing Authority have invoked a licensed monopoly which excludes all members of the NWRPG from monitoring any nests, regardless of species. So in future please put your argument where it fits and please keep your remarks factual.

      Natural England’s policy change was adopted to keep a lid on any bad publicity when nests are persecuted or fail because of unnecessary disturbance by serial nest visitors, who by the way, are too afraid to speak out because of the confidentially clause these individuals are obliged to sign.

  • bowland birder

    Correct me if i am wrong but responding to second and third posting, wasnt it the volunteers who were wondering aimlessly looking for the E.O. nest site on open moorland and causing/ disturbing the harriers from there territorial nesting location?

  • There are some interesting views and opinions and although I have no connection with NWRPG I don’t believe they would do anything to bring their name into disrepute. Surely the trust they earn and the way they go about their work is what they survive on. Organisations like the RSPB are based on funds from the public, they get this from the squeaky clean image they portray? And I dare say they would go a long way to protect that image with the support of other organisations like NE, just the same way Terry is protecting NWRPG’s name, 4 decades of raptor work deserves to be protected.

    Sadly the bigger picture shows in my opinion it results in one thing, MONEY. NWRPG are based on the loyal support of a committed knowledgable group, the RSPB are based on bringing in the money and upholding a public image at all costs.

  • paul williams

    Wondering aimlessly.. yet! looking for.. Don’t get that.

  • paul williams

    I just want to clarify that harriers do not nest in the same spot EVERY year, if they did there would be far more harriers on Private Estates like there was when i was a young lad,however, if they do…where are they?

    • nirofo

      Paul, I’m afraid you’re mistaken, Hen Harriers might not nest in exactly the same spot every year but they will certainly nest within the same territory quite close to previous nests year after year, provided that is they are left in peace to get on with the business of breeding. That’s what makes them so predictable and easy meat for the Raptor persecutors to take out and why there’s so very few of them on private estates. “Where are they?” that’s an easy one to answer, “DEAD”.


  • Trapit

    As a professional gamekeeper of 34yrs, I am only too aware of the criticisms aimed at my industry by bodies such as the NWRPG. Many of these are well founded others just nonsense, and the sheer ignorance of some of the comments posted, on both shooting and natural history matters amazes me. Witness some of the above. I happen to be quite experienced in the study of certain breeding birds including some Raptors, and I do think that in this field the NWRPG have behaved impeccably but are being victimised by other bodies embarrassed by the truth they reveal. For instance regarding the afore mentioned Hen Harrier/camera incident from the description of the birds behaviour, nest contents etc I can almost certainly say that the nest was deserted before Mr Moore chanced upon it, possibly as a consequence of the camera installation, which seems to have been a very underhand affair and by implication possibly amateurish. This utter nonsense should be no excuse for preventing experienced field workers from continuing the valuable service they have carried out for over 40 years.

  • SL

    From a removed position (Devon to be precise) not knowing any individuals or politics of Bowland, I am worried on two fronts:

    1. Surely the ultimate goal is enhance breeding success of raptors. This can only be achieved if everyone pulls in the same direction. Whether it be NE, RSPB, BTO or NWRPG or individual raptor workers, it isnt difficult to coordinate visits if everyone communicates effectively. Problems will arise when people make uncoordinated visits for selfish reasons.

    2. The licensing situation; I do not like the idea of licences being kept ‘in house’. In my eye this makes it easy to cover up failures or falsify success. This only makes the sceptics more suspicious that there is collusion between the govermental agencies and the landowners.

    Good luck!

  • Kevin Moore

    Thank you for you support “trapit”

    • Pat Young

      What many people like me are failing to understand is why are responsible individuals being punished for something Natural England admit could not have been avoided, while the irresponsible actions of a number of RSPB volunteers are not only being over-looked, their poor behaviour it seems is being ignored. This approach just doesn’t make any sense at all in my opinion.

  • paul williams

    So they don’t nest in the same spot!!!

    • nirofo

      No, not if you want to be pedantic, they are not bound to a single location such as a small area on a cliff ledge the way Peregrines etc are, but they will nest close enough to previous nests to make them regulars and easy to locate in the same area year after year!!!


  • So this is what you get if you dedicate forty odd years of your life to the care and conservation of raptors in Bowland, no golden handshake just an almighty kick in the teeth because you dare to speak out against bad practice and persecution, how very sad for the NWRPG and for all of the raptors they have saved and protected.

    It will now be a free for all and what happens will be hidden behind closed doors from the public, although I doubt the people behind this dreadful conspiracy will be able to hide all that they do. Even some of the gamekeepers who I have spoken to and were willing to work with people who protect these wonderful birds are disgusted with it all. It is alarming that people will stoop so low in their ego driven quests to victimise and discredit this group who have such a genuine love for the birds they have tried to protect for so long without wanting any personal rewards.

  • paul williams

    There is a world of difference between harriers which from time to time nest on the Abbeystead estate and those that nest on the United Utilities estates, sometimes the Harriers are lucky…very lucky. However luck does not come into it on any of the other five estates in Bowland, simply because harriers are not allowed to breed there at all.

  • Tamsin cox

    I agree with chrissie, this is a very sad and worrying situation.
    What concerns me the most is the fact that a camera was put at a nest by the rspb without permission, and they are not getting penalised. In my opinion that is extremely bad practice.

    And as for the peregrine ground nest incident, disgraceful.
    Before my comment is ripped apart please undertand that I am no expert, just an animal lover who wishes to express her support for an organisation who obviously work tirelessly to protect these wonderful birds and to my mind have been unfairly persecuted.

    • nirofo

      Your point about the camera being put at a Hen Harriers nest without permission is indeed a valid point worth persuing. All serious and experienced Raptor Workers know that anyone who wants to photograph Schedule One birds at the nest must be in posession of a Schedule One Photographic licence for that particular species at that particular site named on the licence, because you are working for the RSPB, either employed by them or as a freelance helper doesn’t make you exempt. So RSPB, were your people who erected the camera at the Hen Harriers nest the holders of a photographic licence for that particular nest and if not, why not, or do you think you are above the law and don’t need one ???


      • Admin

        In reply to your question, where any camera is used to capture images, still or otherwise resulting in disturbance to the nest of any Schedule 1 breeding species a photographic licence is required. When the camera was installed at the harrier nest followed by additional nest visits to change batteries and video tapes, this would result in disturbance, hence a licence would be required. In reply to your other question, as Natural England were not told or consulted about the installation of the camera beforehand, no licence could have been issued by Natural England to cover this activity.

        There is of course one important consideration which we must bear in mind. Natural England have already demonstrated they can disregard bad field practice and amend licence conditions as they feel appropriate.

  • tom tit

    Nirofo …. seems to me you are really clutching at straws now!!!

    • admin

      Attack the man – not the argument … Rolling eyes

    • nirofo

      Hi tommytit

      Which straws would they be then ??? Are they the ones that are preventing the RSPB and Natural England from coming clean and telling the truth about what’s really going on !!!

      Maybe it’s just the last straw which is preventing them from admitting it’s their own people who are the biggest problem in Bowland, (and elsewhere). Or maybe it’s the last straw that’s stopping them bringing their own people to heel and removing their Schedule One licences (if they had any that is), instead of the NWRPG licences. Or maybe it’s the last straw because it’s embarrassing for them, (or it should be), when it’s so obvious that some of them don’t seem to have a clue and the majority of the serious Raptor Workers know it.


  • Paul Risley

    Just a few questions on this, has anyone yet owned up to placing the camera? It wasn’t the same guy who placed a hide right by the nest with 2 young in was it. And has anyone seen what was recorded by it? If there’s a couple of hours of film of a female sitting eggs then there’s other reasons for nest failure, 6 eggs is a substantial investment for a Harrier to desert over a few mins it would take to install a camera

    • Admin

      Paul, it seems you are getting your wires crossed here. If you had read the article carefully you would have already seen that Mr Murphy told Paul Williams and Kevin Moore that the RSPB had instaled the camera at the nest containing 6 eggs. This had nothing to do with the licensed photography from a hide at a second harrier nest containing two chicks which also failed. In that instance although the hide had been placed 100 m away from the nest a licence was still required as disturbance took place each time the hide was entered and exited.

      Getting back to the installation of the fixed camera next to the nest containing 6 eggs, a Freedom of Information request has already been sent by the NWRPG to NE asking them to provide full details of when the camera was installed and what it recorded. Once this information has been made available it will be published.

  • paul williams

    I dont think nirofo is clutching at straws, but certainly the abandoned eggs were!!!

  • tom tit

    Admin ….. excuse my ignorance on this matter, but you say that the hide installed for photography at a harrier nest was installed 100 metres away from the nest. What would be the chances that any photography of this nest could be carried out at that distance, especially if that nest was in deep heather.

    I have made a few enquiries and have found that the hide was installed at half its usable height, deep in heather, then was never used. So no-one ever entered, or exited the hide, to carry out the activities for which it was intended. So, don’t you think that disturbance was at an absolute minimum and probably wasn’t a contributory factor to that nest being abandoned. Why would any photographer intent on producing a set of images do anything to cause harm to the object of his/her intentions?. I’ve also found out, that as a condition of the issue of the Schedule 1 Licence, no photography would take place until the chicks were at least 10 days old (no need for use of the Freedom of Information Act here). Do you have any information as to the age of the chicks in that nest when it was abandoned?. In a previous post it was indicated that there were two chicks and three eggs in the nest. Were these chicks well grown, or newly hatched (i.e. were the chicks more than 10 days old)?.

    Oh, and for information, no Schedule 1 Licences have been issued for Bowland during 2011.

    • Admin

      Mr Tom Tit,
      For your information Raptor Politics has enclosed below details of a signed witness statement sent to Natural England by two independent observers who have no axe to grind. From the content of their statement it becomes clear the hide was being used on 6th June by at least one photographer despite your claims. I take it you never visited the area during last seasons breeding season and you are only relating second hand what you have been told?

      As far as we are aware, RP have only ever claimed to know of two chicks in the nest, which of course both disappeared. We are able to clarify that the aim of the photography project was not to capture images of the nest, but to gain images of harriers landing on a wooden post which had been installed close to the nest. We hope this clarifies these matters? One additional observation, if no disturbance was taking place no photography licence would have been required.

      Enclosed below is a copy of the witness statement signed by two members of the public sent to Natural England regarding their observations and experiences last year which were ignored.

      On Sunday 6th June 2010 at around lunchtime we were walking along the access road leading to Croasdale Quarry, Nr Slaidburn in the Forest of Bowland on moorland owned by United Utilities plc. In the distance was a parked vehicle; when we arrived at the parked vehicle I set up my telescope and almost immediately approached by two other bird watchers. At this time the person in the vehicle came out and starting chatting to the other people and we over heard them discussing the photography of hen harriers that was taking place from a photographic hide on the moor above xxxxx xxxxx.

      We then asked the photographer what he was photographing from the hide and he replied hen harriers and that he and a second photographer had installed a photographic hide in place near the nest site. I then questioned him about disturbance to which he replied there was no disturbance only minimal (still disturbance to us) and then he got a bit upset probably about questioning him and then showed us his photographic licence. He then said that he did not like our attitude and at which point the two other bird watchers took a few steps away obviously did not want to get involved.

      We then asked if there was any chicks in the nest being photographed, yes he replied. I then asked him was there someone in the hide now? Again the reply given was yes, and he told us that he communicated thru a two way radio with the photographer currently inside the hide. I asked him why can you not take photographs from the path/road were we were, as they had suitable equipment. He did not reply to that and then he made his way to the other bird watchers and we made our way back. (our reason was we did not wish to stay in that area).

      On the way back to our vehicle parked at the Slaidburn end of the track we came across the RSPB hen harrier warden who was making his way in his vehicle to the photographer. We understand that Mr. Richard Saunders (NE) has stated the hide was not used. This is clearly not the case as our observations and what we were both told proves the hide was in use at the time of our visit. We have also learned that the same NE employee is saying that I and others who criticized this licensed activity were trouble makers. This again is not the case, as clearly someone is now attempting to cover up the fact that at least two chicks in the nest either died or disappeared while being photographed from the hide. The fact that two chicks were lost is bad enough, but to try and conceal what took place is completely disgraceful.

  • tom tit

    Admin … a little information is a very dangerous thing and signed witness statements don’t always tell the whole truth, especially when there are two sides to every story. Why not make a few enquiries like I did and get the other side, then it wouldn’t be all one sided, would it?.

    • TerryPickford

      We have heard both sides of this argument many times, the facts are simple and straight forward. Natural England claim they were informed the hide was never used, clearly the information given to Natural England was wrong. If you do not believe the word of two independent eye witnesses then there is nothing more to be said. Look at the situation from another perspective, the pair of nesting hen harriers being photographed failed resulting in the loss/disappearance of their two chicks. Perhaps if the photography had not taken place we would not be debating this issue at all!

  • tom tit

    Terry …. No, I don’t believe the word of two independent eye witnesses, convince me as to why I should. I might, in this instance, prefer to believe the word of the other parties involved.

    As I said before, there are usually two sides to every story and I’m only hearing one side, the one you seem keen on pushing forward.

    • TerryPickford

      Hi, you have me at a disadvantage. What a pity we are unable to correspond on equal terms by knowing who I am talking too, not to worry.

      The points I have placed in front of you for consideration are not mine I must point out. As far as I am concerned they are true. If you have other more compelling evidence to show otherwise may I invite you to put this detail on the table ASAP, otherwise I have nothing more to say on this subject.

  • DEAN

    No schedule 1 licences for ANY group in Bowland this year.
    Is that correct?

  • Here in N. Ireland things are basically the same as what the NWRPG are suffering and of course the so-called knowledgable RSPB are always in the thick of it – they are always right and everyone else is wrong or knows nothing! Their headless chickens here, are running about aimlessly over the moorland and jumping in and out of cars with map in hand (totally lost)do more harm than good when they are let loose and yes untrained during the breeding season.

    A few years ago when tree-nesting by Hen Harriers was declining in line with the ground nesters, they purposely visited the nest 29 times that I am aware of and subsequently the nest failed. I did not even visit the nest, yet I was licenced to do so. So, they want to have a good hard look at themselves before blaming the NWRPG for ‘their’ blatant bundling of the failed Hen Harrier nests. One rightly knows, that one does not visit a nest when incubation is imminent or has just commenced – what these people have done and have been allowed to do is sacrilige and indiscriminate disturbance and I bet they were all not licenced to visit these nests and then then they revoke the ‘Groups’ licences ?? This organisation does more harm than good and should be banished from the UK, with a better and more organised organisation put in place who will look after and conserve all our birds of prey and owls. I hope the NWRPG are not members of the RSPB as I learned years ago that they are getting peoples hard-earned money under false pretences!!

    Wise up NE & RSPB, you are a disgrace and I would suppose that they will both be looking for info. in the near future – but not from me or I would hope the NWRPG !!

  • tom tit

    Terry …. as you say, “not to worry” who I am, that wouldn’t help matters. However, in answer to your query, yes, I do have considerable compelling evidence that what has appeared on this site is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So, as your closing comment says, let’s have nothing more said about this subject ….. for now!!!

  • skydancer

    It sounds like Tom Tit is in favour of disturbance to the raptors of Bowland, has he been caught disturbing raptors in Bowland? I Wonder ……

  • tom tit

    skydancer … you couldn’t be further from the truth if you tried.

    • Paul Williams

      Tom Tit,
      i am always extremely dubious when reading and considering comments posted by a person who is not prepared to use his or her own name. There is always a risk such individuals have something to hide don’t you think? May i say I find your claim that no Schedule 1 licenses will be issued this year for the whole of the Forest of Bowland very curious and perhaps too coincidental? As you appear to know everything, will this initiative be extended to include a ban on licensed photography of harrier nests and those licenses issue by the RSPB on behalf of Natural England to their small number of volunteers who are charged with monitoring harrier nests on the United Utilities Estates?

      If this rule is being applied to all field workers it will be extremely interesting and significant to see if there is a marked increase in productivity of harrier territories on the United Utility estate this season. Last year peregrine nests located on the private shooting estates monitored by the NWRPG had one of their most productive years in over three and a half decades. Let’s just wait and see if just as many harrier and peregrine sites on the UU estate are able to follow suit this year.

      If what you claim is true there are two issues which in my view can not be over looked. This could be Natural England’s way of saving face for imposing inappropriate and unjustified licence restrictions upon members of the NWRPG this year while ignoring the poor field work of others. Second and more importantly, there is likely to be serious security implications for unprotected nests throughout the whole region as a consequence of Natural England’s decision (if true). If licence holders are prevented from visiting Schedule 1 raptor nests to establish their initial content, what methodology will be put in place by Natural England to establish the number of eggs laid, the number of chicks hatched and the final count of fledglings produced at each occupied territory? While i remain sceptical the comparison which comes to mind would be like leaving the crown jewels unprotected with the security systems switched off, doors unlocked and left open with a welcome sign inviting criminals “to come and help themselves”.

  • EnglishShooter

    I was sorry to hear the NWRPG was kicked off Bowland.

    The RSPB has been persecuting shooters for so long now, that it’s very odd to see them lying, cheating, concealing and being incompetent in their dealings with, and behaviour towards, other groups.

    Proceed with caution, RSPB are a highly political organisation, and having largely dumped conservation of the little brown jobs, will aggressively attack any group they see as a threat to their activities – regardless of whether those activities are correct, ethical, sensible or moral. Disagree in print and you can expect to find yourself named in that yearly pulp-fiction, ‘Bird crime’ as a raptor persecutor.


  • tom tit

    Regarding Schedule 1 Licences in Bowland. You really should read previous postings much more carefully. Don’t you think it’s a rather silly assumption that no licenses will be issued for monitoring purposes.

    Further to your opening comment, I thought it was compulsory to adopt a silly name to get anything on this website>

  • nirofo

    Mr Tom Tit seems to have much to say without actually saying much of any consequence.

    Put your money where your mouth is Mr Tom Tit, otherwise you waste our time !!!


    • Skydancer

      My sentiments entirely, Tom Tit is like many politicians, says a lot but never provides any substantive answers or explanations. So we all now conclude that the detail he gave regarding the non issue of Bowland Schedule 1 licenses by NE was false?

  • paul williams

    Tomtit, with your permission of course, i will gladly name all three fieldworkers who showed disregard for the birds they were ringing, and i am prepared to sit next to them and tell them how very poorly they conducted themselves.

  • Tom Tit, you really are living up to your pseudonym, especially the second part. You should have the courage of your convictions and be man enough to speak using your real name like the rest of us.
    How dare you question the dedicated and unselfish raptor workers who have given up over forty years of their it lives protecting the raptors in Bowland and highlighting their persecution irrespective of any embarrassment this may cause to you and your friends, what gives you that right?

    It is obvious that you are posting things on here and elsewhere to wind people up and as such bring nothing to the table, you don’t even have an answer to the questions asked of you instead you resort to childish behavior which does you no favors what so ever,what makes you think you are so special?

    I suggest that you go and do something constructive with your life and leave the people who do care and are prepared to get off their backsides to do what they do best, alone. Your postings smack of sour grapes and bitterness, how sad.

    You make no comments about the bad practices that this site has exposed but try and draw the thread away from it and belittle these occurrences WHY? Is it because you have been involved in them yourself or are covering up for others?

    Unless you are prepared to reply using your own name and make some sensible and factual comments don’t bother, you seem very good at using a lot of empty words which say nothing and discredit this very valuable web site which brings to the public’s attention, not only the dreadful persecution of our wonderful raptors, but also the underhanded things people will stoop to further their own ends. If the cap fits Tom Tit then wear it.

  • AlanHarper

    I have nothing to gain from my comments as an outsider.
    So, we have the naivety of thinking that the RSPB has a responsibility to raptors.
    If you think that the RSPB takes that seriously then consider the following.
    In 2000, RSPB formed RSPB Energy with Scottish and Southern Energy. I, although not a subscriber, and several of my qualified colleagues have written to RSPB about this over the years because it has meant that RSPB has been UNABLE to stand up for raptors in many of the wind power station schemes of Wales, Cumbria, Scotland and the Scottish Isles. You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds; the RSPB has allowed many schemes to be progressed without a murmur and has to carry much responsibility for the deliberate avian culling caused by wind turbines. If the RSPB had been so driven for the avian life of the British Isles, why has it not surveyed the grounds under wind turbines rather than allowing natural predators to remove the evidence? Where are these surveys archived?
    I know several friends who have stopped subscriptions to RSPB. Would that explain why RSPB is now so keen to end its financial “renewables” money-raising scheme with Scottish and Southern Energy?
    Loss of income is a great mover but can we ever trust RSPB again or National England with all its spin?