Immature Goshawk found dead

Gos-01-Web

Image courtesy of Frank Mawby

A dead goshawk, possibly a female, was found weighing 705 g by Chris Mawby, who works for Natural England at Finglandrigg National Nature Reserve near Carlisle. The hawk was discovered on Monday 14th December lying on the track which leads into the wood. When the bird was initially examined it was extremely thin with almost no flesh left on the breast. The corpse was fresh and eye colour was still there. It was concluded the bird had recently died, possibly falling from its perch during the night.

Gos-02-web

Image courtesy of Frank Mawby

There were no visible  signs of injury and the initial conclusion made was that maybe it just never became proficient at catching food, small birds and grey squirrels, and therefore may have starved to death. It may be significant that grey squirrels were removed from the Finglandrigg nature reserve as part of an eradication scheme. 

It is felt that the hawk had not been shot or poisoned, although until a full autopsy has been undertaken the true cause of death is not known . Of course birds are susceptible to disease and parasites and a heavy worm load for instance could contribute to poor condition and eventual death.

Gos-03-web

Image courtesy of Frank Mawby

The corpse has now been passed to Tullie House and CEH Raptor Monitoring people at Lancaster have requested the internal organs for tissue sample and reference.

It appears the hawk was rung this year in Scotland at a secret nesting site.

Goshawk Article: Stunning Images by Sam Hobson captured in the city of Berlin, where the goshawk breeds alongside tenement buildings without being persecuted.

19 comments to Immature Goshawk found dead

  • Paul Allen

    So very sad I hate to hear of Hawks being killed

  • Keith Cowieson

    Presumably the invasive non-native grey squirrels were eradicated as part of native red squirrel conservation efforts? Although I am not familiar with Finglandrigg NNR, as I recall Cumbria is one of the last English bastions of red squirrels and in the front line of efforts to save it from extinction – http://www.rsne.org.uk/conservation-and-strongholds.

  • The only way to remove grey squirrels and encourage reds is via predators not man. Pine Martens and Goshawks are the predators while trapping greys and reds in the same cage helps spread poxs which kills the reds. Predators would help reduce poxed animals but shooting estates think they have the right to break the law and kill both the predators!Do you realise £millions are now being spent on Grey Squirrel removal. That money would be better spent on habitat management with both these predator species making more money in wildlife tourism.

  • Keith Cowieson

    The removal of grey squirrels from Anglesey and the restoration of the red squirrel population there to its current healthy state, was via the efforts of a dedicated team of well-motivated, local, human volunteers, under the guidance of Dr Craig Shuttleworth, UK’s acknowledged foremost expert on the subject.

    Meanwhile, the other various red squirrel conservation teams around the UK are doing sterling work in holding the line elsewhere. As are certain county and city local authorities, with Aberdeen being a particularly important and shining example. Sadly, grey squirrels were deliberately introduced to the city/area in the 1970s with the end result that they have now spread westwards up the rivers Dee and Don, threatening UK’s main red squirrel stronghold in the central Highlands.

    Goshawk and pine marten may make inroads into the grey population, but they are unlikely to have a significant impact on either the spread of grey squirrels or population size, and are certainly not enough on their own to stop them. As with most Invasive Alien Species, some element of wildlife management, by humans, will be required to do that. Support your local red squirrel groups!

  • Keith Cowieson

    Apus,

    I don’t normally bother replying to those hiding their identities behind pseudo-nyms nowadays, but I’ll make an exception here.

    I am certainly not confused, and I don’t demonise pine martens or goshawks (or grey squirrels for that matter). Where did you get that idea from?

    I am very happy for pine martens and goshawks to prey heavily upon invasive, non-native grey squirrels and thereby reduce their adverse effects on native red squirrels, broad-leaved woodland and song and other native birds.

    Grey squirrels are not demons to be demonised, they are simply an introduced Invasive Alien Species (IAS) that, like many other IAS, are having a catastrophic effect on some of our native species. If we wish to preserve those native species, then we have to deal with the destructive alien ones, and all and any help from native pine martens and goshawks is to be welcomed, warmly.

    The Irish experience is certainly very encouraging, so it will be interesting to see if it is repeated elsewhere. Indeed the University of Exeter has just commenced a PhD study, associated with the mid-Wales pine marten reinforcement, to investigate the impacts of pine marten on grey squirrels there.

    Support your local red squirrel groups!

  • Apus Apus

    I don’t think it really matters whether you know my real name or not, as it does not diminish the points that I have made. I don’t know the identify of the people behind Raptor Politics/Raptor Persecution Scotland and its not a problem for me. Anyway if it really bothers you and I am honoured that you responded “to those hiding their identities behind pseudo-nyms”- its Steven Robinson.

    I actually made my comments about Songbird Survival and not you personally, although you do work for an organisation that not only generates a lot of anti-predator and anti-raptor nonsense, but also has many landowners involved with it who have ties to the shooting industry.

    http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/songbird-survival.html#cr

    http://www.againstcorvidtraps.co.uk/songbird-survival/bloodsports

    I’ve also had a look through some of your your newsletters, which is always an eye opening experience! This newsletter for example, makes it pretty clear that you would like the protection for birds of prey to be removed –

    http://www.songbird-survival.org.uk/5_News%20&%20Views/Newsletters/72681-667428.spring-summer-2012.pdf

    It then goes then go on to highlight the effects of predators, like the grey squirrel and pine marten on “vulnerable prey species” and advocating for management to help “our precious stock of wild birds”.

    The organisation’s view about trialling a cull of bird of prey was also made here –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12634698

    It is ironic that it was the land owning class who introduced the grey squirrel in the first place, was involved in the persecution of the red squirrel when it was perceived to be a woodland “pest” and also played a significant role in wiping out the pine marten from much of its UK range, either from direct persecution courtesy of their gamekeepers or from removing its habitat.

    It is easy to see why there is such enthusiasm for culling grey squirrels though, since landowners will be paid millions of pounds for their service. Goshawks and pine martens on the other hand would do it for free.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/11301638/Millions-of-pounds-of-public-money-to-pay-for-grey-squirrel-cull.htm

    • Keith Cowieson

      Apus apus aka Steven Robinson,

      I am honoured that you are honoured that I responded to you despite your using a pseudonym. The reason that I generally dislike and don’t respond to people using pseudonyms on social media is because of the so-called ‘On-line Disinhibition Effect’ (ODE) and associated cyberbullying it can often engender, see here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect and here – http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/30/online-aggression As you didn’t exhibit ODE behaviour, or indulge in cyberbullying, I decided to respond. I will continue to ignore those who do.

      Next, when I post on a public forum as ‘Keith Cowieson’, guess what, I am posting in a personal capacity and not on behalf of anyone else. Quite why you felt the need (and still feel the need) to comment on SBS when the thrust of the developing thread was on grey squirrels (and whether the death by apparent starvation of an immature goshawk was linked to the removal of grey squirrels from the Finglandrigg nature reserve as part of an eradication scheme) is beyond me. It is clearly ‘off-topic’ and irrelevant to the matter under discussion. Why someone introduced grey squirrels to the UK almost 140 years ago is equally irrelevant. The misguided culprit is long dead and cannot be held to account anymore.

      However, the fact remains that the grey squirrel is an Invasive Alien Species that is having a catastrophic effect on some of our native species. The question then is whether we should do something about it in order to preserve the native species in question (red squirrels, broad-leaved woodland and native woodland birds) – or not – (in order to provide a food resource for native predators like goshawk and pine marten).

      So, to drag it back to topic, for those interested in issue of squirrels (both grey and red) I can recommend an excellent book on the subject – ‘Red Squirrels, Ecology, Conservation & Management in Europe’ edited by Dr Craig Shuttleworth, Peter Lurz and Matthew Hayward, see here – http://www.europeansquirrelinitiative.org/ESI-_Red_Book_release_07.07.15.pdf

      • Apus Apus

        AKA – Steven Robinson

        I agree that my post was not directly related to the article, but I think that the points that I raised have wider relevance. I do acknowledge that you posted in a personal capacity, but I’m afraid I can’t disassociate you from the organisation that you work for.

        Of course if you were a doctor or worked in a shop, I wouldn’t have known about this and it would have no bearing on this discussion, but when you are currently a director and up until 2012 the policy director of an organisation that is anti-predator and anti-raptor I think it is of interest, particularly when you are commenting on a raptor website. A lot of people choose employment that matches their values, do your values match those of SBS? If not, why do you work for such an organisation?

        Perhaps, if you don’t want me or anybody else for that matter to mention SBS in future you consider a pseudonym yourself?

        • Keith Cowieson

          Apus apus aka Steven Robinson,

          Why should you associate my personal posts with whom I work for? Who do you work for? Why does it matter a jot? And what bearing does it have on whether invasive, non-native grey squirrels should be preserved to act as an unnatural food source for native predators, and thereby indirectly threaten other native species, or whether they should be eradicated to conserve those native species, as per IUCN and UN CBD guidelines? Do you think invasive, non-native grey squirrels should be tolerated in red squirrel refugia like Finglandrigg NNR?

          To correct your other misinformation here – I took post in December 2012 (although started effectively in January 2013). Prior to 2012/13, I worked for several organisations – in a shop, in the military and in the civil service. I have been a keen birdwatcher, bird photographer, uplands enthusiast and amateur naturalist throughout. I have been a bird-of-prey enthusiast since an early age and remain so now. You have never met me and know nothing about me, so why do you persist in attempting to disparage me?
          No need for me to affect a pseudonym as I am content for others to know who it is posting on various blogs/websites, unlike you up until December 22nd. What was it you were so afraid of?

          My values and beliefs include being prepared to stand up for myself and others, against on-line cyber bullies and trolls of all sorts and much, much worse – up to and including putting my life on the line in order to ensure that others can enjoy our hard-won freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom to go about our legal business without interference or being denigrated and harassed or worse. Those are my values.

          • Apus Apus

            Apus Apus aka Steven Robinson

            I’m sorry that I was inaccurate re the length of your involvement with SBS. I looked on my mobile phone and the mobile version must have merged your profile with that of Keith McDougall. It was a genuine mistake!

            You’ve mentioned cyber bullying again in your last post, and I’m not sure why? My critical comments have been aimed at SBS rather than you personally.

            You asked – Do you think invasive, non-native grey squirrels should be tolerated in red squirrel refugia like Finglandrigg NNR?

            Here’s an interesting report from 2006 – Is culling of grey squirrels a viable tactic to conserve red squirrel populations by Stephen Morris (one of the UK’s foremost mammal experts) et al?

            https://www.onekind.org/uploads/publications/0811_grey_squirrel_populations.pdf

            From the summary

            – Red squirrels populations have historically undergone large population fluctuations.Causes include habitat loss and disease. At various times in the 19th and 20th century,red squirrels from Europe have been introduced to re-establish or augment populations. Genetically, red squirrels in Britain are not distinct from those in Europe.

            – Grey squirrels have been introduced to various localities in Britain. Despite culling, these populations have now spread over most of England and Wales, and into many parts of Scotland.

            – Red squirrel populations are declining for two reasons: ecological displacement by grey squirrels, which may take many years, and squirrel poxvirus (SQPV). Grey squirrels act as vectors for SQPV and aid the spread of this disease into novel red
            squirrel populations. Grey squirrels quickly fill the vacant ecological niche when red squirrel populations die out from SQPV.

            – It is widely argued that controlling grey squirrel numbers is the best way of conserving red squirrels. However, there is little evidence to support this belief. Most squirrel control is carried out with warfarin, but only live trapping and/or shooting can be carried out in areas with reds. Attempts to create an
            immunocontraceptive for grey squirrels have failed and no biological control methods are currently available.

            – Most control is done within the context of protecting commercial woodlands from squirrel damage. There is mixed evidence that grey or red squirrel control worked;bounties schemes in the past have proved unsuccessful at lowering population numbers. Success has been limited to isolated populations such as islands; grey squirrels can colonize areas quickly, so most grey squirrel control is ineffective.

            – Grey squirrels can damage commercial forestry and are cited as having a negative impact on woodland birds. Whilst the evidence with regard to commercial forestry is unequivocal, controlling squirrel numbers is not always effective and current silviculture techniques may exacerbate the problem. There is at best limited data to suggest the minor role of grey squirrel’s impact on two species of woodland bird. These arguments ignore damage to forestry and predation on woodland birds that historically were attributed to red squirrels when they were more abundant. In addition, no consideration is given to the benefits that grey squirrels may have,including the formation of deadwood, an important component of biodiverse woodlands.

            – Culling of grey squirrels could lead to more problems than solutions. Culling may lead to an increased localised density, an increase in forest damage levels and increase the spread of disease.

            – Red squirrel populations will continue to decline in the face of increased ecological displacement by grey squirrels and SQPV. Novel techniques need to be devised to protect red squirrels. These include setting island refugia, and developing an
            effective and humane way to eliminate grey squirrels.

            – Large sums of money are being spent on red squirrel conservation. However, this money is not spent wisely. Whilst red squirrels are native to Britain, many of the populations are recently introduced European stock, and so even if red squirrels do eventually disappear from Britain, they could easily be reintroduced again. Globally,red squirrel populations are not threatened and the conservation effort in Britain is of
            little importance.

            This is what they had to say on natural predation –

            As a consequence the only other option would be natural predators of squirrels such as pine martens (Martes martes) and goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) (Rowe, 1983). However, as a result of long term persecution, current populations of both predators are most abundant in areas containing red squirrels, not greys; predation on red squirrels is not thought to be a direct threat to population viability (Halliwell, 1997; Petty et al., 2003), and it is highly unlikely that these predators would have a significant impact on grey squirrel populations. So whilst the use of natural predators as a biological control of grey squirrels appears an attractive option, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on either the spread of grey squirrels or population size.

            This report came out before the Ireland study on Pine Marten and Grey Squirrel so they would not have been aware of the positive effects there.

          • Keith Cowieson

            Apus apus aka Steven Robinson,

            You haven’t answered my questions:

            – Who do you work for?

            – On hiding behind a pseudonym – What was it you were so afraid of?

            – The question “Do you think invasive, non-native grey squirrels should be tolerated in native red squirrel refugia like Finglandrigg NNR?” requires a simple Yes – No – or Don’t know answer. So which is it, Yes – No – Don’t know?

            You’re not sure why I mentioned cyber bullying as your Comments were not aimed at me personally?

            How about “I’m afraid I can’t disassociate you from the organisation that you work for” – presumably based upon your lack of, or inadequate, research as epitomised by mistaking me for someone else – “…..until 2012 the policy director of an organisation….”

            Your excuse that “I looked on my mobile phone and the mobile version must have merged your profile with that of …..” rings a little hollow. My mobile phone has never merged someone else’s profile with another. Anyone else out there have a similar problem?

            And how about “A lot of people choose employment that matches their values, do your values match those of …….? If not, why do you work for such an organisation?” Sounds rather personal to me.

            You then go on to suggest that ” ….. in future you consider a pseudonym yourself” Also sounds rather personal to me. Unlike you up until 22nd December, I have nothing to hide.

            Such personally directed remarks are generally termed ‘ad hominem’ i.e. an attack upon an opponent or person in order to discredit their argument or opinion. Which were you trying to do?

            You have finally got round to addressing the issue at hand by quoting reams of a 2006 paper from the University of Bristol. You may even recognise that I quoted from the very same paper earlier in the thread, before you started to drag it way off topic – “…they (pine marten and goshawk) are unlikely to have a significant impact on either the spread of grey squirrels or population size….”

            You may also remember that shortly after you commenced with your largely irrelevant and mainly ad hominem interventions, I recommended a very recent (2015) book on the subject – ‘Red Squirrels, Ecology, Conservation & Management in Europe’ edited by Dr Craig Shuttleworth, Peter Lurz and Matthew Hayward, see here – http://www.europeansquirrelinitiative.org/ESI-_Red_Book_release_07.07.15.pdf

            This latest cutting-edge red squirrel research book was published in 2015, after both the Bristol paper and Irish study, and covers the latter in some depth. I read both the Bristol paper, Irish Study (and many others) and this book before forming my views. I suggest you do the same and I commend the red squirrel to all interested in the subject.

    • Keith Cowieson

      Apus apus aka Steven Robinson,

      I am honoured that you are honoured that I responded to you despite your use of a pseudonym. The reason that I generally dislike and don’t respond to people using pseudonyms on social media is because of the so-called ‘On-line Disinhibition Effect’ (ODE) and associated cyberbullying it can often engender, see here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect and here – http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/30/online-aggression As you didn’t exhibit ODE behaviour, or indulge in cyberbullying, I decided to respond. I will continue to ignore those who do.

      Next, when I post on a public forum as ‘Keith Cowieson’, guess what, I am posting in a personal capacity and not on behalf of anyone else, otherwise I would use their name/title. Quite why you felt the need (and still feel the need) to go off on a tangent when the thrust of the developing thread was on grey squirrels (and whether the death by apparent starvation of an immature goshawk was linked to the removal of grey squirrels from the Finglandrigg nature reserve as part of an eradication scheme) is beyond me. It is clearly ‘off-topic’ and irrelevant to the matter under discussion. Similarly, why someone introduced grey squirrels to the UK almost 140 years ago is equally irrelevant. The misguided culprit is long dead and cannot be held to account anymore.

      However, the fact remains that the grey squirrel is an Invasive Alien Species that is having a catastrophic effect on some of our native species. The issue then is whether we should do something about it in order to preserve the native species in question (red squirrels, broad-leaved woodland and native woodland birds) – or not – in order to provide a food resource for native predators like goshawk and pine marten, (at the expense of red squirrels, broad-leaved woodland and native woodland birds).

      So, to drag it back on topic, for those interested in the issue of squirrels (both grey and red) I can recommend an excellent book on the subject – ‘Red Squirrels, Ecology, Conservation & Management in Europe’ edited by Drs Craig Shuttleworth, Peter Lurz and Matthew Hayward, see here – http://www.europeansquirrelinitiative.org/ESI-_Red_Book_release_07.07.15.pdf

      • Apus Apus

        I would not advocate culling in Finglandrigg nature reserve, as with a population of more than 2 million grey squirrels in the UK (I’ve seen various figures from 2 to 5 million) and the ability to recolonise a culled area within 10 weeks, it is a big waste of time and money.

        I don’t want to see the red squirrel go extinct on the UK mainland, but pouring millions of pounds into a grey squirrel eradication programme is not the answer, as I’m afraid the grey squirrel is here to stay. My preferred option would be to leave control to natural predation – pine martens, goshawks, foxes and stoats – the very species that the game shooting industry persecutes either illegally or legally.

        I would like to see the millions of pounds of public money that has been allocated to cull to be spent elsewhere – such as the reintroduction of the pine marten (it currently has a UK population of less than 5000 in the UK – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/pine-marten-spotted-in-england-for-the-first-time-in-over-100-years ) to its former haunts where the habitat is suitable (let’s not forget that this species had a range that covered most of the UK, before its population and range shrank due to habitat loss and persecution by gamekeepers) and to safeguard the threatened National Wildlife Crime Unit, which would help to reduce wildlife crime, something that can impact on two of the above native predators.

        In your second comment, you mentioned that “Goshawk and pine marten may make inroads into the grey population, but they are unlikely to have a significant impact on either the spread of grey squirrels or population size”, later citing the Harris et al study from 2006 to support this. I believe that this report even though it is 10 years old is still very pertinent, but I do wonder if their comments on natural predation is outdated following the Ireland study, which shows that pine martens do reduce grey squirrel populations, either from direct predation, but also and perhaps more significantly by the likely effect of creating a “landscape of fear”, as greys in the pine marten area were found to be in poor condition –“they might simply learn to avoid known pine marten areas, or they might spend less time on the ground foraging, leading to reduced fitness. Grey squirrels might even be suffering physiological effects such as stress-induced reproductive problems.”

        To emphasise the role of predators here’s another pertinent quote from –
        http://theconversation.com/resurgent-pine-martens-could-be-good-news-for-red-squirrels-46051 “Predators are a vital part of a healthy ecosystem and predator prey interactions have an important function. What’s happening in Ireland and potentially Britain with squirrels and pine martens is a great example of how restoring natural predators can reduce the damage caused by invasive species. We are currently living in an unnaturally predator-poor environment, and it’s possible this has allowed some introduced species to reach “invasive” levels, which has ultimately wreaked havoc on our ecosystem”.

        The link that you have provided for Shuttleworth et al (2015) is a book, which I don’t own so I can’t check why you feel that a human cull is so essential. On the other hand, this is what the Irish study scientists in 2014 said –

        “To date, there has been no successful method developed in the long-term control (nor indeed the eradication) of grey squirrel populations … a recovery in numbers was found to take place within 10 weeks of intensive culling programs.”

        These are George Monbiot’s views from his 2015 newspaper article where the above also quote comes from –

        You pour the money in and it pours out the other side. The government’s plan to sponsor an “eradication programme” to the tune of £100 per hectare per year is futile; though it will have the effect of transferring even more public money to rural landowners.

        I doubt you’ll be surprised to hear that the idea was approved by the former environment secretary Owen Paterson, whose primary mission in office appears to have been showering his chums with gold, while ruthlessly cutting any spending that might have delivered wider benefits. This was the man, remember, who almost doubled the subsidy for grouse moors.

        http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/30/how-to-eradicate-grey-squirrels-without-firing-a-shot-pine-martens

        With this in mind, I would like to know what has changed in a year, from the above in 2014 to the idea that culling is now a valid thing to do? What is contained in the Shuttleworth et al (2015) book that trumps this?
        With regards to the pine marten for example, do they believe that the Ireland study may not be replicated in the UK, because there is more prey availability of other species here compared to Ireland?

        http://theconversation.com/resurgent-pine-martens-could-be-good-news-for-red-squirrels-46051 But then from this Telegraph article the Irish study’s authors do believe that their findings could apply to Scotland and “could prove highly significant in terms of red squirrel conservation” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/10998856/Red-squirrels-are-fighting-back-against-the-greys-experts-claim.html

        As you point out, Craig Shuttleworth was involved in the successful eradication of greys on Anglesey and I note in this article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34603394 that he thinks that this can be replicated elsewhere and perhaps the country as a whole. Its’ also telling that the cull on Anglesey, even though it is an island took 18 years to be successful and that it is to be extended to a neighbouring county at a cost of £1.2 million when no red squirrels have even been seen for nearly 70 years.

        I can see the value of culling on small islands, even though it is time consuming and expensive, since the goal is achievable. But culling on the mainland is simply not realistic.

        • Keith Cowieson

          Apus apus aka Steven Robinson,

          Hurrah, finally addressed the issue and answered one question. What about the other questions?

          – Who do you work for?

          – On hiding behind a pseudonym – What was it you were so afraid of?

          – Why did you persist in attempting to disparage me in earlier exchanges?

          – I take it you now understand why I mentioned cyber bullying, having pointed out those of your Comments that were aimed at me personally? A bit of advice, be less aggressive and judgemental when dealing with other people in your on-line dealings, particularly with those whom you know nothing about and have never met. That way, you are more likely to come across as a reasonable individual and thereby not provoke defensive or hostile reactions. Trust me, it will be worthwhile.

          So you don’t support the culling of grey squirrels in red squirrel refugia like Finglandrigg NNR on the grounds of cost, allocation of scarce resources and the hope that native predators will eventually do the job. There we will have to agree to differ.

          Like many complex issues, I suspect a comprehensive approach involving a suite of different measures will be required, involving both natural predators and human interventions. The much larger grey squirrel lives in greater densities than the red squirrel, outcompetes it for resources thereby reducing red squirrel breeding rates and most importantly is a carrier of the squirrelpox virus, deadly to our native reds. Saving the red squirrel from extinction is worth the investment of significant resources in my view, and that of the IUCN and UN CBD too. (I will declare an interest here, I am fortunate enough to have grown up with red squirrels in abundance in my Aberdeenshire youth (and 3 pairs of swifts nesting in our loft) and had the pleasure of sharing my back garden with them when I lived in Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany).

          Moreover, many of the dedicated red squirrel groups receive precious little funding, but do it for love of the native red squirrel alone. That is their contribution to helping preserve our native biodiversity and it shouldn’t be decried, but supported.

          Reference Dr Craig Shuttleworth’s views and those of his collaborators in their red squirrel book, I suggest you buy or borrow the book and read it for yourself – too difficult and time-consuming to selectively quote extensively from it here – but here is one ominous statement contained therein – ‘It is premature to say that eventually grey squirrels will replace the red squirrel from all parts of the British mainland without management intervention, but, and although it may take another 100 years, there is little evidence to suggest otherwise”.

          Alternatively, why not contact him and pose your questions directly (Shuttleworthcm@aol.com). He is a very approachable and personable bloke who I’m sure would give you chapter and verse much more succinctly and compellingly than I ever could.

          • Apus Apus

            – Who do you work for?

            You have asked me this question three times now when it is completely irrelevant. You are quick to accuse me of poor internet behaviour, while you persist in asking the same irrelevant question. I will say though, that I do not work in forestry, conservation, gamekeeping, shooting or for an organisation that has an anti-predator agenda.

            – On hiding behind a pseudonym – What was it you were so afraid of?

            I’m not hiding behind a pseudonym and am not afraid of anything. I think you may have noticed that lots of people who use the internet use a pseudonym. This does not mean that they are all bullies or trolls. As I have pointed out already, not knowing the true identity of somebody does not detract from their argument. I occasionally post comments on Mark Avery’s blog and the Guardian and nobody else has ever had a problem with me posting as Apus Apus before. I’ve even had a previous dialogue with you on one of Mark Avery’s blog. http://markavery.info/2015/03/03/song/

            – Why did you persist in attempting to disparage me in earlier exchanges?

            I probably did let my dislike of Songbird Survival get in the way, but this is after all an organisation with a long-standing anti-predator/anti-raptor/anti-grey squirrel agenda.

            Before commenting on this thread, I checked out the SBS website to see if these views are still evident, but unfortunately it seems that there has been little change on the organisation’s perception of birds of prey for example, as this is what one of the trustee’s wrote in the latest online newsletter –

            “With the soaring populations of buzzards and sparrow-
            hawks posing a constant threat to all forms of birdlife it is
            surely time to look again at the legislation which protects
            them. When the need to protect certain threatened species
            no longer exists as has happened with buzzards and spar-
            rowhawks, just to give two examples, a plausible case can be
            made for withdrawing their protected status and allowing
            the imbalance to be redressed. This would save countless
            song and other birds from needless death.”

            The fact that some bird of prey species are returning in numbers is something that should be celebrated. Why is the buzzard even been blamed when its main prey is rabbits and small mammals and not songbirds? “Common buzzards do eat some birds, but they form a relatively insignificant part of their diet, and this is particularly the case for songbirds. Their diet consists primarily of small mammals, lagomorphs and carrion.

            http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A253112.pdf

            http://www.wbrc.org.uk/WORCRECD/Issue10/buzzard.htm

            Predation is not responsible for the loss of songbirds at a population level – look instead at intensive agriculture, the loss and simplification of habitats and for migrants, problems on their wintering grounds and on migration routes. It is good that you recognise the role of predation on grey squirrels, albeit accompanied with culling, but perhaps predation could also be highlighted by SBS, as I could see no mention of the effect of pine martens for examples on the SBS website or when I looked through its twitter account.

  • And the Goshawk died of starvation! Fortunately we have ‘Raptor Politics’ exposing the lies. And by the way the bird came from near Hawick.

    • Keith Cowieson

      Sad to hear that a Scottish goshawk from near Hawick died of starvation in Cumbria, England. I presume that the autopsy report is now available. Perhaps you could post it here.

      And perhaps Chris Mawby could update us all on the availability of other prey species for goshawk around Finglandrigg NNR (eg rabbit, hare, red squirrel, woodpigeon, corvids, sparrowhawk, owls, kestrel, small birds etc) Are they all in short supply there too – like grey squirrel? This website would suggest otherwise – http://www.solwaywetlands.org.uk/wildlife-spotting-finglandrigg-wood

  • Trapit

    The date that the bird was found,possibly six months after leaving the nest,would suggest it had become quite proficient at hunting.These birds can lose condition fairly quickly,so maybe whatever had affected it was fairly recent.