Peregrine ‘Holocaust’ England’s Northern Uplands..Update with replies from the RSPB, United Utilities and Natural England

A spokesman for the North West Raptor Group (NWRG) has warned that a peregrine “Holocaust” looms in the country’s Northern Uplands, which includes the Forest of Bowland, if action is not taken fast.
When the NWRG were licensed to monitor Bowland’s Peregrines there were at least twenty occupied territories.

A recently published article by Terry Pickford of the NWRG says the Forest of Bowland has witnessed an unprecedented peregrine population crash with only a single breeding success recorded this year.

In the last four years 15 peregrine territories have been found abandoned, resulting in the disappearance of at least 30 adult falcons that once occupied these sites.

Mr Pickford told the Clitheroe Advertiser: “In the last three years 15 peregrine territories throughout the Forest of Bowland have been abandoned completely. Only one successful nest this year. This represents a complete population collapse.”

Prior to 2009, when the NWRG were licensed to monitor Peregrine nests, large broods of young were common. Sadly this situation has now all changed for the worst.

He adds in his article that there are now more nesting pairs of peregrines – the world’s fastest bird – inside London than in the whole of the Northern Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales, the North Yorkshire Moors, the Forest of Bowland, the Durham uplands and Derbyshire’s Dark Peak.

The Forest of Bowland is managed by both private landowners and, in the majority, United Utilities, which owns 26,000 acres. A spokesman for United Utilities said: “For over 30 years we have worked with the RSPB to monitor a range of birds of prey on our Bowland Estate. Sadly, whilst this year’s results have been disappointing for peregrines, historically peregrines have been successful on the Bowland Estate. “We will continue to work with the RSPB and other important partners to make sure we continue to do all we can to help and support not only peregrines but other key species on our land.”

A spokesman for Natural England, which is an executive non-departmental public body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and aims to protect and improve England’s natural environment, added: “Natural England is aware of – and concerned by – the decline of peregrine falcons in the Bowland uplands. At this stage we have no firm evidence as to what may be causing the decline of Peregrines in Bowland. Further monitoring and close working with all parties in the area will be essential to help improve our understanding of this species and the factors that are responsible for the declines observed.”

Chris Collett, communications manager for the RSPB, Northern England Region, said that research shows there is a link between intensively driven grouse moors and Peregrine persecution. Research collated in 2011 showing the comparisons of the fortunes of peregrine falcons breeding on grouse moors with those breeding in other habitats in northern England revealed that breeding success was half that in other habitats, for example on other moorland, open country and forested areas.  In fact, only a third of nests produced young on grouse moors.

To read Mr Pickford’s full article visit:

Story by Julie Magee, Clitheroe Advertiser. 3 October 2013

5 comments to Peregrine ‘Holocaust’ England’s Northern Uplands..Update with replies from the RSPB, United Utilities and Natural England

  • kevin moore

    Does the Natural England spokesmans comment of “close working with all parties in the area” mean that they will be working with the North West Raptor Group in Bowland?,
    I simply do not accept Natural England’s claim that they do not know the cause of the peregrine’s decline in Bowland, I think they are telling big porkys to protect the estate owners and their gamekeeper.

    • nirofo

      Of course they know the cause, they are part of it, their inept dealings with the NWRPG made sure that the only seriously experienced ornithologists were excluded from being involved with the Raptors in Bowland. This left the door open for every gun, trap and poison toting gamekeeper in the area to wreak havoc among the Raptors at will.

      Natural England should be ashamed of themselves for doing in 2 years what the shooting estates and their gamekeepers had only dreamed about for many years.

  • paul williams

    We will continue to work with the RSPB and other “important partners”. We could do with a little transparency there!!! If these were contractors working on water treatment plants and each plant installed had failed someone would have had their behind kicked. What I would like to know is why United Utilities and their so called ‘important partners’ like the RSPB did not do more to protect these birds when they had the chance? What exactly have the RSPB achieved in the last eighteen years, the answer nothing at all. Excuses, excuses, that’s all I am seeing here. You should all be ashamed. I would not put any of you in charge of my chickens.

  • kevin moore

    Great comment Steven, but the RSPB appear more interested in pursuing malicious prosecutions against members of the NWRG rather than working with them to protect raptors. All very disappointing and sad really, but thats politics.

  • paul williams

    It’s just a natural instinct for people in power to want to hide what they do,Because, secrecy is the lynch pin for abuse of power,and transparency is the antidote to it!