Eagle Owl Debate Radio 4. Thursday 18th November 9pm

[singlepic id=249 w=320 h=240 float=left]Not too much information to add really, all we know at this time is that BBC Radio 4 will host a debate about Alien Species which will include Eagle Owl. Interestingly, according to the Radio Times it appears UK Eagle Owls are thought to have now been introduced into the UK from Scandinavia. That’s a new one – we all just hope that the panel of “experts” this time will represent a balanced view.  We are sure most most Eagle Owl enthusiasts would find it  refreshing to hear from someone who supports the Eagle Owl, rather than listen to the same old negative rhetoric from individuals at the  BOU like Steve Dudley.

Radio 4, 9pm Thursday 18th of November, Saving Species .. Brett Westwood considers the conservation of alien species, highlighting the case of Eagle Owls, which are thought to have been introduced to the UK from Scandinavia.


What should countries do with wildlife aliens? If it’s only the North Sea that separates a native population of Eagle Owls to an alien population, should we care? And should we make efforts to mitigate their effect on ‘native’ ecology

Download the programme in mp3 format here. Right-click and ‘Save as’.

15 comments to Eagle Owl Debate Radio 4. Thursday 18th November 9pm

  • Mike Price

    Confusingly on that link it says its next on tomorrow at 11am, but I guess thats another program in the series, the schedule lists it at 9pm Thursday 18th as per the orginal post.

    • admin

      It’s on at 11:00 on the 16th, and repeated at 21:00 on the 18th according to my electronic programme guide.

  • John S. Armitage

    Nationally, the finding of a dead Eagle Owl in coastal Norfolk may result in prejudiced views becoming more flexible, as is the Scandinavian research showing birds have made it across the “straits” between Sweden and Gotland. The “case” suggesting Eagle Owls are reticent about crossing over large tracts of water may yet be dis proven. In all honesty, all I would really wish is that, prior to any real consideration of the bird’s status, and any reaction required against this in the UK, there is an open minded evaluation of the real facts and possibilities.

    Set aside the egos and bruised utterances, for once let’s think of birds themselves! Mark Avery’s ( Director, Conservation, RSPB ), detailed Blog providing results of pellet analysis, and a taste for Rabbit, has diverted the over zealous, “these birds are a threat to Hen Harriers” brigade particularly since Tony Warburton ( World Owl Trust ) was allowed sight of the acclaimed video claiming an Eagle Owl predated a Hen Harrier nest. It didn’t, but possibly its presence nearby and on the nest caused such a disruption to an incubating female hen harrier prior to dawn that she deserted.

    Recently I’ve had a few telephone calls from people on the much dealt with subject of Hen Harriers. Calls for new initiatives, quotas etc etc fill me with dread. Quotas…..c’mon, grow up , that would be the worst initiative coming from UK conservationists ever. It would herald similar calls in due course for “containment” of other birds of prey that the game bird lobby felt were a threat to their interests. Liberalism and compromise have their boundaries, now get real. Talk to the people involved for God’s sake and come to an acceptable solution between all parties involved instead of trying to insert “grey suit solutions” from afar. They’re real people, with real concerns, talk to them and respect them, but produce a solution arising from hard negotiation, not a product of some handkerchief up the sleeve Sir Humphrey origin !!

    John S.Armitage

  • Well said John. Just one point – it was the female harrier which deserted, not a female Eagle owl!

  • John S. Armitage

    Hi Tony. Thanks for that as I hadn’t noticed the mistake!! Oh dear!! However many times entries are read over it’s still possible to make the most stupid and fundamental mistakes sometimes. Apologies to all! The fault is all mine, can do better is the cry!!


  • Circus maximus

    Pine Martin have managed to find their way onto the Isle of Mull….should there be a Cull on Mull?

  • admin

    Well – that’s strange! At the start of the programme a recording is heard of an Eagle Owl hooting in the woods, and the announcer does a brief paragraph on Eagle Owls being escapees, non-native, says they do no harm except for one or two (doesn’t elaborate), and then the program drifts off into discussing invasive plants and rat problems on an island – and no further mention of Eagle Owls!

    Has the Eagle Owl content been ‘pulled’?

  • I heard the same story so perhaps it has been pulled, perhaps it is just as well as the BBC can’t seem to get their facts right, it would help if they spoke to the correct people, is that to much to ask?
    I have received a reply from the BBC with regard to my comments regarding the eo coverage on the One Show, they say they are taking my comments seriously and they have been passed to the relevant department, whatever that means.

  • DaveH

    The comments on this site are unbelievably biased in favour of preserving the eagle owl in the UK. Probably similar blinkered view points would have helped to spread many harmful invasive alien species throughout the world. Has no one read the risk assessment for the eagle owl. This to me is an extensive scientific based document which should be taken seriously. Most comment here is based on emotional attachment for these owls. If you have kept an eagle owl as a pet you are in no way an expert

  • DaveH,
    Your claim that the comments on this site are ‘unbelievably biased’ and based on ‘keeping an eagle owl as a pet’ is insulting to the people working on the ground with the owls currently breeding in England. It is also proof enough that you are the one who is blinkered. Do a bit more research on the Eagle Owls in Britain and then come back with your eyes open. Of course we have read the Risk Assessment – what do you think all the fuss is about? It was produced by one man based on literature coming mostly from Europe and is full of unproven conjecture. And tell me, have you personally ever watched or studied an Eagle Owl in the wild?

    • DaveH

      OK point me in the direction of any research papers based on scientific study from the UK. When you talk about an eagle owl in the wild do you mean the feral population released by falconers?. The risk assessment is based on the scientific papers available. It seems that the argument from your side is ONLY based on finding a dead eagle owl in Norfolk which “must” have flown across the north sea. For breeding eagle owls to occur naturally in the UK it would mean at least two eagle owls flying in from Europe not just one. If it were possible for this to happen do you not think it would not have been happening regularly during the previous 6000 years.For a bird to have flown in from europe and landing on the Norfolk coast quite recently when people are trying to prove that the eagle owl is a true british native species just seems a little too much of a convenient coincidence.
      The argument for the eagle owl not predating hen harriers nests seems to lie with the fact that the eagle owl was not filmed actually killing the hen harrier. I understand that the film does show the eagle owl actually on the nest site of the hen harrier and then the evidence seems to suggest that the hen harrier abandoned the nest. This to me is certain evidence of nest predation, if the nest failed because of the action of the eagle owl then this is predation . Is it not true that the eagle owl is one of the ultimate killing machines in the natural world and that if they are in the habit of visiting other birds nests such as hen harriers then they are hardly likely to just offer a friendly greeting and leave. Please be realistic!!
      The pro eagle owl argument seems to be linked to the fact that hen harrier nests are destroyed by keepers and it is keepers who cause the highest rate of failure of breeding success and so it is OK for an eagle owl to prevent the successful breeding of hen harriers because humans are the greatest culprits.This argument holds no water. If population numbers of hen harriers are at an extremely low level then the eagle owl filmed nest predation incident is causing the failure of one out of less than 10 breeding pairs of hen harriers which is too high a proportion to be allowed.
      The argument of the pro eagle owl faction just seems to be based on sentimental claptrap and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence provided by them , well at least I haven’t seen any.
      This seems to be the attitude largely found on this website, that if they do not agree with us then they must be wrong. Quote”it is just as well as the BBC can’t seem to get their facts right, it would help if they spoke to the correct people, is that to much to ask?” This is a little arrogant is it not?
      I am believe it or not indifferent to whether eagle owls remain in the UK or not. What has got my back up is the way that the pro brigade is basing all of their arguments on zero positive evidence and are not prepared to accept any other evidence presented against them. As I said earlier unbelievably biased.

  • DaveH,

    Although I realise that this is a futile exercise, I’ll try one last time (and it will be the last time) to convince you that you are the one who is blinkered when it comes to Eagle Owls in Britain.

    Let me begin by explaining the difference between ‘predation’ and ‘abandonment’. Predation is the act of one kind of animal preying naturally upon another. ‘Abandonment’ means to ‘give up’ or ‘forsake’ something. The Bowland harrier ‘abandoned’ the nest because of the presence of the Eagle Owl, but it wasn’t ‘predated’. While this was frustrating, it was no different from another nest being affected by the erection of a Natural England-sanctioned hide for photography. The reason such failures assume such importance is because the English breeding population is not allowed to recover to its maximum possible carrying rate (currently estimated at c.300 pairs) due to persecution on grouse moors. At such a level the odd failure from natural causes (including severe weather and foxes)) would hardly cause a ripple. You will no doubt ask for proof of this – so just read the latest Natural England/RSPB reports.

    No, I can’t point you in the direction of any Eagle Owl research papers based on scientific studies carried out in the UK, for the simple reason that none have been done yet. Rest assured that as as soon as we have more data under our belt they will appear. What I can do is point you to my own report on http://www.owls.org, click on ‘WOT in Action’ and then ‘Reports’. If you haven’t read this yet, you will find data from Tony Crease who observed the Yorkshire pair for over 10 years, as well as studying the Eagle Owl in Germany for comparison. Also you will find factual data gleaned by fieldworkers who have been monitoring the Bowland birds since they arrived as breeders.

    Please give us your proof (and I do mean ‘proof’, not conjecture) that the birds in Britain are all ‘feral individuals released by falconers’ (your quote). Exactly how do you identify that a bird hunting and breeding in the wild, unringed and with no vestiges of falconry anklets or jesses, is an escaped/released individual. No-one is saying that escapes do not and have not happened from time to time, but to say that natural immigration is not possible for this species is just ludicrous. And sorry, your comment about the Norfolk bird is so puerile that it is not worthy of a reply.

    I would welcome your proof that Eagle Owls (the ultimate killing machines as you apparently perceive them) “visit other birds nests such as hen harriers” – presumably to predate them? This suggests you have seen them doing this for yourself, or perhaps read about it somewhere. If the former, where did this happen, and how many times have you seen it? If the latter, which ‘research paper based on scientific study in the UK’ did you read it in?

    No, it isn’t arrogant to ask the BBC (or anyone else for that matter) to speak to the people who are working with both Hen Harriers and Eagle Owls in the field in Britain – it is commonsense!

    Finally, and I repeat, this is finally, to claim that we ‘pro-Eagle Owl peoples’ arguments are based on zero positive evidence’ again displays your own blinkered stance. Read the data in my report, but on second thoughts, don’t bother. The one thing I can’t do is enable a blind man to see clearly! Incidently, how about being brave enough to add your full name instead of hiding anonomously behind an ‘H’?

    • DaveH

      Futile is the correct word. I have read your report from start to finish. I did not see any mention of the points raised by the RSPB and the BOU. I did not see any mention of any arguments against your views. The report is therefore biased. I have not been able to find any articles against the eagle owl being a native in Britain on the raptor politics website.There is no positive evidence either. Do you have any BTO ringing returns for eagle owls crossing the north sea? I think not.To be honest I do not wish to waste any more time on this issue other than to say that when I arrived at this web site I knew nothing about eagle owls and had an open viewpoint. Everything I have learnt about eagle owls has been derived from this site. What i have learnt are there are certain individuals who are obsessed with this eagle owl issue and are prepared to manipulate any evidence to suit their own preferred outcome. These weird conspiracy theories from this web site must have alienated an awful lot of people