Lancashire Eagle Owls: Expert advice ignored Again.

[singlepic id=107w=225 h=192 float=left]As the followers of Raptor Politics will already be aware the plight of the pairs of Eagle Owls located at both Geltsdale and on moorland in the Forest of Bowland have featured prominently in several articles published on this web site. In particular over the last two years we have stressed over and over again the need for restraint when in comes to disturbing eagle owls at their nest during two critical breeding stages, i.e., egg laying and when nests contain small owlets. Despite the advice provided by the local raptor group supported by other experts from around the world, occupied nests in 2009 and in 2010 were still intentionally disturbed during this critical time by people who should have known better but instead placed their own egos above any concerns for the nesting owls.

On Saturday it snowed in the Forest of Bowland and temperatures were below freezing for most of the day. Despite this consideration three unidentified individuals are known to have visited an eagle owl territory located on moorland owned by United Utilities at some point during the day. Three sets of fresh footprints were identified on Saturday leaving the public footpath leading up to and over the fence containing the small quarry where last year three owlets were rung.[singlepic id=102w=450 h=385 float=right]

At this stage we have no detail of whether or not the site was once again occupied this season, but certainly this incompetent behaviour was entirely the wrong way to find out and may have destroyed any chance for success a nesting pair may have had for a second consecutive year.

21 comments to Lancashire Eagle Owls: Expert advice ignored Again.

  • che of bowland

    Nest twitchers intent on persecuting Eagle Owls again, or was it????

  • John Miles

    With the loss of the pair of Geltsdale birds Bowland will be the best bet of seeing such wonderful birds.

  • paul williams

    Not if they are disturbed at this crucial time of the season.I am wondering now, if it was the same pair nest twitching clowns i saw up dunsop

  • Will these people never listen or learn, it is obvious that their own egos come before the welfare and safety of these beautiful owls. Such people should not be going anywhere near nest sites at all, they are doing it for all the wrong reasons ie: just to say that they saw it first, very bad practice, oh sorry forgot, we are not supposed to mention that subject, especially to NE and the RSPB, as it is wasting there time.

    Because these people seem to be on some sort of ego trip and want to be able to say that they saw the nest sites before anyone else this quite likely means that nobody will see these owls at all, as in all probability they will have deserted the nest site if indeed there was one there this year at all.

    This selfish behaviour and attitude by people who should know better but don’t seem to care is a very dangerous one, why are these people being allowed carte blanche to carry on in this way?

    • kevin

      Well said chrissie, Any one who knows anything about Eagle Owl behaviour will know that this is a very sensitive time of year for them, but the egos of a small number of individuals rises above what is best for the birds as this despicable conduct clearly shows. All they care about is being first at any nest, enabling them to document what they find in their notes. The words “serial” nest visitor comes to mind here!

  • falco subbuteo

    I think we have a really good idea who these footprints would belong to as who ever it was appeared to have had a key provided by United Utilities to drive their vehicle onto the moor via a locked gate ?????

  • nirofo

    I think that while over zealous/over enthusiatic/uncaring twitchers, or so-called ornithologists of questionable status are probable culprits, are we not forgetting the possibility that the disturbance was a deliberate attempt at making the birds desert the site at a critical time by persons who have a different interest in making sure the Eagle Owls fail?

    Either way, I hope the footprints were photographed so they may be used as evidence if necessary, it may prove useful to show the photographs to the people who are suspected and let them know they are being watched and recorded.


  • paul williams

    Nirofo, I am now wondering if there is a darker side to the workings within the Forest of Bowland where perhaps politics rather that the security of raptors comes second on any agenda.

  • Andy

    Sadly, there are so many people who want rid of these owls that I’d be amazed if a known pair ever raises young again in the UK. Realistically the only hope they have is before the locations become common knowledge.

    Conservation is a tough enough job when all conservationists are working together, but when everyone is pulling in different directions? no chance.

  • paul williams

    I think it is time to put names to the footprints of our nest twitchers

  • john

    This is probably what happened last year were they originally went down to breed (ie) looking for them at the egg laying stage,which probably caused the owls to move to the nesting site were there are footprints in the snow???

    • Skydancer

      From what i have been able to find out, the three sets of footprints belowed to three individuals with keys and a 4 x 4. They were either very stupid, or just didn’t care. Perhaps both.

  • paul williams

    there is a pattern of reoccurring events here…Is this back door persecution?

  • che

    I was under the impression that there was a code of conduct to be adhered to as regards Eagle Owls in Bowland,for example… DO NOT DISTURB.So why have United Utilities allowed this nest site to be visited by thier field workers, who by the way tell all others to stay away?

    • nirofo

      che, you are right, there is a code of practice and that is Natural England and the RSPB will do what they like and all the serious and experienced Raptor workers will do what Natural England and the RSPB like also. Meanwhile all the so-called birders and the Raptor persecutors will do what they like regardless of Natural England, the RSPB or anyone else.


  • I have no doubt in my mind who these visitors were. They should be stopped as they are doing what they want when they want ,with no consideration for these owls or indeed any other birds of prey they claim to care about.

    The only reason they are still there is because they tow the line and do as they are told by the RSPB, the land owner and NE. They are putting themselves first to boost their overblown ego’s and to hell with the birds.

    I am still waiting for a reply from Mark Avery but have given up and resorted to asking on Twitter if someone from the RSPB could please let us all know if the Geltsdale Eagle Owls had been shot, I received a hasty reply saying that wasn’t the case, I was promised an update. The fact is that these owls have not been seen since early December and they should be calling by now so someone should have heard them.

    I was a fool to think that things would change, but after last year I did feel more positive but as long as egos come before the safety and welfare of these birds and the birds are used to further these peoples own ends this will never end.


    Looks to me like there is a witch hunt going on and maybe some hidden agendas.
    the three people and 4×4 as mentioned above were not present on the day in question as i myself visited the area and did not see them and met them the next day.
    these people in question who you all presumably know do a lot of good work in the area and i have found them very helpful and friendly and always have the welfare and safety of all birds in bowland.

    • Admin

      We can assure you there is no witch hunt. Raptor Politics received information from a member of the public who had found 3 sets of prints originating from 4 X 4 which had been parked in a lay-by inside the UU estate. He followed the footprints up to the fence but because he could see they went over the fence leading to the eagle owl site, he did not go any further There is no evidence of who the prints may have belonged.

  • nirofo

    Sounds to me like someone is spreading conjecture without knowing if the facts are true or not. This is one thing that will make serious Raptor workers, who may well have the best of intentions, look like they’re spreading rumours about certain persons in order to make themselves look good and the others bad eggs. Unfortunately forums are notorious for this sort of thing and it’s easy to get caught up in it, if we’re ever going to put a stop to Raptor persecution we need to be whiter than white and be sure of our facts before we say anything, especially in print!


  • che

    do not judge a book by its cover.