Eagle owl nest found deserted; RSPB stalk raptor workers.

Monitoring or just watching raptors in the Forest of Bowland has never been an easy or a pleasant exercise for members of the North West Raptor Group since Natural England revoked some, but not all, of their raptor disturbance licenses.


Bowland Eagle Owl nest found abandoned on United Utilities estates Forest of Bowland

Last week we reported an incident where a RSPB warden made a malicious allegation to the police alleging he had witnessed two group members disturbing a peregrine at a quarry on the United Utilities estate in the Forest of Bowland. What is difficult to understand is it appears the warden claims he only heard a peregrine – he hadn’t seen one.

Despite the police being told by the two raptor workers that they’d not seen or heard a peregrine since their arrival at the quarry, the incident is being treated very seriously. Alleged bird disturbance and spending time and resources snooping on raptor workers going about their lawful interests appears more of a priority in the Forest of Bowland than investigating raptor persecution and the abandonment of nests.

This morning, two members of the NWRG were stalked for nearly one and a half hours by RSPB wardens in two vehicles as they cycled along the DunsopValley road. Why, we ask, would the RSPB wish to waste their time observing the actions of two experienced group members as they were going about their lawful business? Perhaps the reason is because they have plenty of spare time on their hands, what with the lack of peregrine and hen harriers in the area to monitor.

A possible reason for the RSPB’S close attention was soon apparent after the two raptor workers left their cycles, taking a detour along a stream gully leading to the top of the moor where they had intended to look for hen harriers. Higher up the steep heather banking, now out of sight of the RSPB onlookers, an eagle owl nest containing four abandoned eggs was found by chance on the ground. On close inspection the nest cup was seen to be wet, and the eggs were stone cold. It was clear from indicators below and leading up to the nest, the site had been visited recently; something you just don’t do when eggs are present in an eagle owls nest – they almost invariably desert it.


Four Eagle Owls eggs in abandoned nest, United Utilities estate Forest of  Bowland

Throughout the short time spent examining the nest and content, no signs of any adult eagle owls within the territory could be found; in fact it was very clear the adult owls were no longer around, otherwise one or both adult owls would have made an attack.

Two photographs and a short video of the discovery were taken, after which the raptor workers decided to retrace their steps, having decided to call it a day. Collecting their bikes, they were once again followed out of the valley and all the way back into the village of Dunsop Bridge.

The deserted nest was reported to the police and a log number for the incident was received. At no time did the RSPB attempt to inform the raptor workers that an active eagle owl nest existed in the valley. Did they already know the site had been abandoned? Maybe the local serial nest visitor can shed some light on what may have happened here?

24 comments to Eagle owl nest found deserted; RSPB stalk raptor workers.

  • bubo bubo

    This is very sad news to hear that these 4 eggs have been deserted by such a wonderful owl.
    Who the hell do these RSPB wardens think they are, stalking people walking and cycling in the fells , they sound like a bunch of sad vindictive creeps to me, this is the fault of the authorities involved , UU ,RSPB and the police who all back these wardens giving them a feeling of being untouchable in Bowland .

  • Birdwatcher

    Legal advice should be sought here, there are laws against stalking.

  • che

    What is happening in Bowland? UU/RSPB field workers..Watching,Intimidating and stalking NWRG members that are going about their business of exposing persecution and mismanagement on United Utilities Estates. Have the UU/RSPB Field Workers got something to hide? Why is a important PLc company and the RSPB allowing their field workers to behave in such a disgraceful and unprofessional manner. One member of the NWRG stalked is also a United Utilities Share Holder who is now considering raising these matters at a Share Holders Meeting.

  • Birdwatcher

    Sounds like voyeurism to me. Just a thought but there are lots of Families with children and of course young lovers who walk up Dunsop Valley. Just a thought.

  • anne

    As a female who quite often walks the paths and fells of Bowland just accompanied by my small dog which i always keep on a lead, I find this stalking very disturbing. i can only ask where would this stalking stop? I will certainly be watching were I walk in the future .

  • Adam Riding

    I find this scenario rather perverse,UU/RSPB field workers spying and then stalking members of a raptor group.Who else are they watching as stated by Birdwatcher?

  • Sabden Boggert

    What a very sad state of affairs! The real resulting scandal here is that the valuable iconic Eagle Owls that have brought so much joy to Bowland et al have failed through no fault of their own to fledge a 2013 brood! So we have the so called “two stalwarts” and no doubt other hangers on operating completely unchecked and supposedly under the banner of the RSPB? What would have happened or been said if this deserted scrape had not been found? We are told that the “two stalwarts” have been all over the site desperately trying to locate it for months, they were playing audible recordings to try and get the adults to display last year, what effect has this had on this years breeding attempt? Answer- Epic fail!! Good work NWRPG in bringing this to the collective wider audience! It’s about time the NWRPG were listened to…..

  • two barrels

    As a member of the local shooting fraternity in Bowland I don’t always agree with postings and comments on this site, but I must agree with Sabden Boggert’s comment. There is a growing consensus among my shooting friends that the so called 2 stalwarts (and we all know who they are) are reponsible for the huge drop in harrier and peregrine numbers in the Bowland fells; their constant unnecessary nest visits have done more damage to raptor numbers in Bowland than any amount of gamekeepers could do. Now they seem determined to destroy the Eagle Owl too. In short they are doing the gamekeepers work for them, so to the 2 Stalwarts I can only say CHEERS, keep up th good work.

  • skydancer

    Have these RSPB/UU wardens any idea what they are doing and importantly do the RSPB care? I really do have concerns about the ability of these people. Every one who knows anything about Eagle Owl behaviour knows this is one species prone to desertion when incubating eggs. Why for example would anyone who cares about these birds choose to go looking for a nest when they know full well the nest is likely to contain eggs; irresponsible and foolhardy are the words that come to my mind. In my view the right thing to do would be to wait before searching out these nests until a nest contains large chicks, at which time the parent birds are less likely to desert their nest. Instead it appears they would rather place the nest in jeopardy to satisfy their own vanity; they have to go to the nest so they can tell everyone how they found the nest before anyone else and how superior they are.

  • Sabden Boggert

    It’s interesting that it appears the latest debacle is “flushing” a few opinions from the cover! The two “stalwarts” have had their day! We are convinced with their blundering approach to nest site locating they have put a great many nesting attempts at serious risk or worse over the years! It’s time UU and the RSPB put these two out to grass! We are told they keep detailed field notes? Now that would make interesting reading……… (Only saying!!)

  • alan

    Whats the odds of just coming upon an Eagle Owl nest when going for a walk and having just decided to come off of your cycles.
    Almost None in my opinion.
    Especially when there was no sight of any Owls around.
    Even more amazing to find it still wet.
    The comments above are spot on.
    The game keepers must love the protection these 2 gave the Eagle Owl and possibly other raptors.

    Editor’s Comment, Alan it is very obvious from your comment you know very little about birds of prey in general, and nothing at all about eagle owls. You should be asking why the nest found had been deserted in the first place, after all the individual who found it did not know eagle owls had even nested where they did.

  • Andy & Rebecca

    We go walking in the Forest of Bowland regular, we love the peace and tranquility, however we will be reporting to the police anyone who we see watching us.We have a right to roam the fells under the CROW act, without being spied on!

  • tweedler

    Have these RSPB wardens ever spied on or stalked gamekeepers in the Forest of Bowland as they go about persecuting raptors, i think we all know the answer to that , especially as part of their licence agreement is to not report any persecution they find.

  • Kathryn Walmsley

    While having lunch at the café in Dunsop Bridge on Sunday 21 April I could not help over hear a conversation all about the eagle owls in the Whitendale valley. After two elderly gentlemen had entered the café one of the men gave me the impression he liked to be noticed and the centre of attention. As I was paying my bill I heard this same man telling one of the ladies serving he had already found an eagle owl nest with 4 eggs and he had just found a second nest that morning containing 2 eggs. I am quite sure I was not the only person in the café that lunch time who could hear what was being said. Little wonder nests are being deserted when people can’t keep away from them, and when they find an active nest they have to boast about what they have found in front of strangers.

  • Its quite obvious that the RSPB are against the Eagle Owl. The species is still not listed as a British breeding bird and it should be. The RSPB are probably quite content to let nest disturbance occur, they are probably quite happy. It is unfortunate that the UK’s most powerful nature charity aren’t supporting this once native species as they should be. With a little help and protection the eagle owls would probably be doing well, and with Englands harriers almost non-existent why shouldn’t they? I support the work the RSPB do in relation to habitat creation but anything to do with persecution and raptors they need to wake up! Same goes for SNH and NE.

  • thomas carroll

    The RSPB will not divulge details of raptor persecution of Raptors in Bowland, yet they will hold out their begging bowl and tell us the money is to help towards a Hen Harrier recovery project.You cannot recover what is not allowed to breed.

    • bubo bubo

      Well said Thomas Carroll, the hen harrier recovery projectis is just another way of getting money out of the public, and to make it look to their members that they are doing a good job, if only the general public knew exactly what the RSPB do in Bowland, I am sure their membership would drop. If it was not for the detail published by this website we would all think everything was rosy. May I ask what the RSPB did with the £320,000 they received from the lottery fund intended I think to bring this species to the notice of the public?

  • Sparrowhawk

    Can someone please tell me what these rspb wardens do now, and can someone plesae tell me where all the harriers have gone from bowland, I used to sit at the top of hareden vally and could be guaranteed to see hen harriers, now there is nothing but grouse.

    Editor’s Comment. We suggest you ask the RSPB this question, after all they have been ‘protecting’ raptors in Bowland since 1984.

  • Sparrowhawk

    If the people at the rspb had an interest in protecting raptors this would not have happened there for what would happen if we allow them to stop the few how really do care

  • che

    Maybe there is a Raptor cleansing project in operation making way for more Wind Farms!!!

  • RobM

    I have to admit I’ve only recently discovered this excellent site and had no idea what was going on at Bowland until I read the above. I have always been of the opinion that the RSPB would be quite happy to see the end of these wonderful raptors but hadn’t realised they’d stoop so low! It strike me that they are no longer in to protection more dictating what species stay where and what they will turn a blind eye to if required. I should add I pay a sub to that organisation and have done so for quite a few years on and off but on Monday will be contacting my bank to suspend it and can’t wait for them to contact me to find the reason for the suspension. The rspb has it seem’s lost all sense of direction and credibility and far to egotistical for my comfort.

  • Raptor worker

    Not sure what is going on here but I WILL SAY THIS….ALL RAPTOR WORKERS…including NWRG should stay well away from EO nests during early incubation and nest site. Anyone worth his salt with an ounce of knoweledge of EOs will know this. KEEP AWAY!

    Editors Comment. Raptor Worker you are correct. We are able to confirm all members of the NWRG have stayed well away from ALL viable eagle owl nests and will continue to do so. The group tell us that they do not make any attempt to even look for EO sites, unlike the RSPB voluntary wardens. The only nests visited were the ones found ALREADY deserted.

  • Raptor worker

    Also, why would RSPB wardens ‘stalk’ people, perhaps they were monitoring two people and quite rightly so, in case they were ‘eggers’ and so forth.

    Really not sure what is going on anymore in Bowland, appears that each has a bone to pick with the other and not all may be black and white. Whatever, as another independant raptor worker I think it is disgraceful whoever is too blame and shame on the lot of you.

    Editor’s Comment. You are mistaken, take a look at the latest story about Double Standards, them make a more sound judgement of who is to blame. The NWRG have had no part in the loss of all hen harrier and now 98% of all of Bowlands peregrines, the NWRG only report the FACTS, if others do not like this so be it.

  • Jack

    Its quite obvious that the RSPB, UU and the local gentry are all in this together, serious money is probably being back handed to rid the area of predators so the upper class can shoot their little game without fear of competition! And Cameron nor his cronies will help. Its a class thing.