New report: over half the world’s raptors have declining populations

We interview our Chief Scientist, Stuart Butchart, about a newly published paper: State of the World’s Raptors. What threats face this iconic group of birds, and what can we do to help?

Why is it important to focus on the status of raptors in particular?

From ghostly owls to majestic birds of prey, raptors are among the most iconic birds, but they are also highly threatened, with many of the larger species requiring large tracts of intact forest, and others persecuted because of their supposed impacts on livestock or game. We teamed up with researchers at the Peregrine Fund to undertake the first assessment focused specifically on the status of this group.

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Image by Jessica Law

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Irish Raptor Study Group challenges Donegal wind farm permission 29th August 2018

Presence of endangered Hen Harrier on wind farm site should have been verified.

The Irish Raptor Study Group was today granted permission to bring judicial review proceedings challenging a decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a 19-turbine wind farm located at Meenbog in South Eastern Donegal.

The proposed development site is located in an area which is specially designated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as regionally important for the protection of Hen Harrier. While the developer in its application did not identify the presence of breeding Hen Harrier on the wind farm site IRSG volunteers had identified two pairs of breeding Hen Harrier in the same area.

Meenbog wind farm is in an area of South Donegal that supports up to 7% of the national breeding population of Hen Harrier in the Republic and the IRSG expressed serious concerns to An Bord Pleanála about the impact the proposed development would have on the species.

According to IRSG Chairperson Ryan Wilson-Parr, “IRSG offered to show An Bord Pleanála exactly where these breeding sites were so that the impact on this threatened species could be fully assessed before a decision on whether to grant permission was made. However rather than resolving this crucial conflict of evidence, the Bord, proceeded to grant permission without regard to whether there would be an impact on the Hen Harrier breeding pairs that IRSG identified on the site”

“In our view this is a serious breach of Ireland’s obligations under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the Birds Directive, measures intended to provide a high degree of environmental protection including specific protections for the habitats of endangered bird species such as the Hen Harrier.”

Mr Wilson-Parr, Chair of IRSG said “IRSG is confident that An Bord Pleanála failed to meet its obligations under EU law regarding protection of Hen Harrier and that its decision will be set aside by the High Court”

He added: “I would like to sincerely thank Fred Logue of FP Logue Solicitors, and David Browne BL for their excellent work on this case”.

The case will return to the Court on 19 September at which point the court will set a timetable for the proceedings

Grouse moors: Working together to achieve shared outcomes

A training workshop for Natural England employees and those working in upland management recently took place on the North York Moors.

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The training workshop brought moorland management and knowledge sharing out into the field.

The National Gamekeepers Organisation has provided an industry-led free grouse moor training day at Snilesworth Estate on the North York Moors (02 August) to help improve land management and enhance local wildlife.

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Yorkshire gamekeeper caught red handed killing two short-eared owls.


 

On the 19th April 2017 RSPB officers witnessed Timothy David Cowin shoot two protected short eared owls in the Langshaw Moss area of the Whernside shoot. The disposal of the bodies on the moor was filmed, officers from North Yorkshire and Cumbria Police met RSPB at the location and intercepted Cowin. The bodies were recovered along with a Foxpro calling device. On 28th August 2018 Cowin plead guilty to shooting the owls and possessing the Foxpro. He was fined a total of £1000 and ordered to pay £170 costs.

After being shot the gamekeeper then buried the bodies of both owls in a stone wall.

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Remains of world’s oldest ringed golden eagle found in Sutherland

Golden Eagle Strathspey, C/R Terry Pickford

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Cumbria farmer guilty of disturbing breeding #Ospreys at their Bassenthwaite nest

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A Cumbrian farmer has been convicted of two charges of intentionally disturbing the nest of a pair of breeding ospreys.

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The killing of 2 Peregrines in 2016 at a Forest of Bowland eyrie brought about the end of an era.

The video above was captured by a covert camera positioned overlooking this active Forest of Bowland Peregrine nest in April 2016. The District Judge who heard the case at Preston Magistrates court beginning in September 2017, ruled the video evidence inadmissible as the camera had been installed illegally without the landowners approval. The Judge also stated she was not convinced by the argument that the camera had been installed at the nest to record breeding activity. Instead she had no doubt the video camera had been installed to capture criminal activity (the illegal killing of two breeding Peregrines at the nest), which the Judge then pointed out had been against the law for several reasons. 

Having witnessed the disappearances of both Hen Harriers and Peregrines from the Bleasdale estate, the recent killing of the two breeding Peregrine falcons at the territory involved in this case highlights a serious and unacceptable situation, not only on Bleasdale but on all of Bowland’s privately owned grouse shooting estates. Over a decade ago I notified the RSPB of what had been taking place at this Bleasdale Peregrine territory where both adult falcons were killed in 2016, asking the Society to consider installing a surveillance camera. Shortly thereafter the RSPB asked me if I would accompany a member of their technical staff to the site to investigate the feasibility of installing a covert surveillance camera at the territory in an attempt to catch the person or persons responsible for the repetitive failure of this breeding site. For what ever reasons, after the examination of the nesting site had been completed I never heard any more from the RSPB regarding the matter. This fateful decision subsequently proved to have been a fundamental mistake, facilitating the loss of additional breeding pairs of Peregrines from this territory together with many clutches of eggs disappearing or being found abandoned in the nest scrape in the years that followed.

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Nos da to our tagged Welsh hen harrier: Lia’s journey is over

Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, shares the sad news of the loss of a second tagged hen harrier in Wales in suspicious circumstances.

At this time of year, our Hen Harrier LIFE project team are very busy monitoring birds, protecting nests and satellite tagging juveniles. As we get caught up in the elation and optimism that a new generation of this rare bird brings, it was a timely reminder of their potential fates when we received the post mortem results for Lia, one of our Welsh hen harriers.

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United Utilities Launches Review into moorland snaring ahead of AGM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

23 July 2018

UNITED UTILITIES LAUNCHES REVIEW INTO

MOORLAND SNARING AHEAD OF AGM

Warrington, UK – United Utilities has launched a review into snaring across its leased estate following pressure from customers, shareholders and wildlife campaigners. The move comes ahead of the company’s Annual General Meeting on Friday, where campaigners are set to question the company’s Board of Directors.

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The most productive Hen Harrier season in England since 2008

It may have been just a coincidence, but our glorious summer has experienced more successful Hen Harrier nests on northern England red grouse moors since 2008 when 25 young fledged from 8 nests. This year 21 chicks fledged from just 5 nests.

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