I have just been handed a short dossier detailing raptor success and failures in Bowland compiled by a concerned member of the North West Raptor Protection Group. The NWRPG as we all now know was the group of raptor experts who lost their licenses which enabled members to protect raptors in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland. Licenses were restricted or revoked this season for upsetting Natural England by telling the truth. Well the truth is now plain for everyone to read, and I for one believe harsh judgements will be made based upon what I intend to make public.
If circumstances were different I would like to be informing Raptor Politics readers about the successes of raptors in Bowland this season, instead what I have to say makes for very depressing reading indeed. It would be easy for me to say that this year’s breeding statistics are entirely predictable. Taking away licenses from the very people who could have made a difference was a travesty and should not have happened and has now resulted in the decimation of peregrines throughout the Forest of Bowland, hey who cares?. But now those individuals who made that fateful decision must accept the consequences for their actions.
After carefully analysis and cross checking the details as far as possible which I have received, there are many adjectives I could have used to describe what has taken place, but one word above all the others sums up the situation we have been left with this summer, catastrophic. I don’t intend to go on and on, there is no need and to be truthful I am sickened by the figures I have been asked to pass on to the readers of Raptor Politics. What I would like to ask you all, after examination of the facts below, please make your feelings and points of views know by submitting your comments – please.
Peregrine Falcons – (26%) Successes
This year nineteen breeding attempts were made by individual pairs of peregrine falcons in the Forest of Bowland. This is normal, however two territories examined were found deserted last year and have remained deserted this season. I can only surmise why this should happen.
Of the nineteen recorded breeding attempts this season, only five nests were successfu. As licenses were not issued to the NWRPG this year, group members could only view nests from a safe distance and therefore it was not possible to establish complete totals for all fledged chicks. Raptor group members were able to establish three nests contained broods of two chicks, one three week old chick disappeared from the third nest which incidentally was a relay. Of the remaining two successful nests we have no precise records of numbers of young, if any, that successfully feldged.
Peregrine Falcons – (74%) Failures
There are no surprises, fourteen nesting attempts this year failed to produce a single fledged chick. Of course a number of these losses can be attributed to the wet and cold weather. I am informed by members of the North West Raptor Protection Group that when making their observations of occupied peregrine territories this spring, a number of nesting pairs or a single falcon from mated pairs disappeared from a high proportion of known territories. Some sceptics would argue these failures were all the result of the climate changes taking place, if that were the case I would point to the success of peregrine territories this year in East Lancashire, where incidentally the weather was just as atrocious, only a single nest failed due to nest robbers.
The figures recorded in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland this year for peregrine are by far the worst statistics for peregrines throughout the region since records began over thirty five years ago. Many associated with raptor conservation at the sharp end are firmly convinced these dramatic failures are not just coincidental, or for that matter have anything to do with the weather.
Hen Harrier Success & Failure.
As expected information limited but numbers of displaying pairs down this year from ten to just six pairs. If this downward trend continues the hen harrier will almost certainly become extinct in Bowland within the next five years.
Only four nests recorded in Bowland this season with chicks, at least twelve. I do not have any additional details of a final tally of the numbers of chicks fledged, so the figure of twelve could by now be reduced.
The single hen harrier nest in the Lake District failed this season due to adverse weather during incubation.
The one Derbyshire pair of hen harriers located in the Goyt Valley failed after the eggs were found smashed and the incubating female discovered killed at the nest.
Eagle Owl – Surprise, Surprise. Two territories 100 % Successful
Two pairs of eagle owls successfully reared broods of young against all the odds this year. Four owlets fledging from one site and three from the second; a good result. In addition even more good news for once, there have been no rumours of any hen harriers being predated by eagle owls so far. The one major obstacle facing the owlets this year, should any migrate onto adjoining shooting estates their future will be short in this world I am sorry to say.
Followers of this web should view the attached articles to understand more of the politics at play in Bowland.