Sadly incidents of illegal killing of England’s ‘protected’ birds of prey, whether on Red Grouse moors or in the urban environment are increasing despite what our present Prime Minister is telling the public in Parliament. Conveniently Mrs. May has overlooked the fact that the Hen Harrier did not breed last year on any grouse moor in England. The Peregrine has already disappeared as a successful breeding species from most moorland in England where Red Grouse are shot. In Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland since 2010 as many as 18 Peregrine nesting territories are now abandoned.
It is very sad therefore to be reporting that on Wednesday 15th February 2017, the corpse of an adult female Peregrine Falcon (part of a breeding pair), was discovered by the North West Raptor Group lying in a water cutter 75 feet above the ground on a coastal church, where the pair had been successfully raising their young for many years. In 2016 the nesting pair raising a brood of three chicks successfully. Because of a heinous act of utter barbarism the female was shot while perched above the church car park, bringing the productive lineage of this pair to a tragic end.
X-Ray showing a single lead pellet lodged in the back of the dead Peregrine.
When the corpse of the Peregrine was first discovered lifeless 75 feet above the ground, it was obvious the falcons recovery from the water gutter was not going to be a straight forward or easy task. Terry Pickford who was on site regarding another issue decided the only viable option was to seek the assistance of the local Fire and Rescue Team. When contacted the team leader Steve was only too happy to commit manpower resources to recover the dead Peregrine. Steve decided this would be the ideal opportunity to provide his men with abseiling experience. Thanks in no small part to what Steve and his rescue team achieved the body of Peregrine was quickly recovered and brought down to the ground.
The Peregrine as we would all wish to see them. Flying free as they should always be.
Once on the ground Terry Pickford, a member of the North West Raptor Protection Group, carried out a cursory examination of the body. He was able to establish the Peregrine was an adult female aged between 4 to 5 years old weighing 0.91 kilo. Prior to its death the Peregrine had been in very good health. Terry then took the corpse of the Peregrine to his local vet by prior appointment where an x-ray quickly determined the falcon had been shot by a single lead pellet which had lodged in the birds back.
Regional coordinator for the North West Raptor Protection Group, Terry Pickford, with the peregrine falcon that was shot in St Annes.
Terry Pickford said “This latest incident is heartbreaking and I know a lot of people around St Anne’s and Lytham will understandably be furious and upset about it.
The Peregrine was handed to the police on Friday 17th February who will now arrange for the corpse to undergo a toxicology and physical examination to determine precisely what caused the death of the falcon.
We wish to express our sincere thanks to the church officers and the Lancashire Fire Service for their invaluable help and cooperation in the recovery of the dead Peregrine.