The Future for Skydancers

[singlepic id=84 w=318 h=450 float=left]It is great to see such enthusiasm and optimism regarding the ‘Sky dancers given wings’ project. Raptor Politics sincerely hope that there is some level of success once this initiative is up and running. However, £317,000 will soon be swallowed up by the project  – hopefully there will be backup funding and that support will be available beyond the 4 years to maintain any success achieved.

It is we feel significant that Natural England have not renewed the contract of the regional Harrier officer in the North East of England this year. By removing valuable man power resources at this critical period for harriers upon England’s uplands in some ways will be regarded as an admission of defeat. What is really needed is for all parties to pull together if we are ever going to have any prospects of defeating persecution in the long term. Removing licenses and terminating the contracts of experienced field workers is perhaps not the right way forward.

Natural England’s NE Regional Hen Harrier officer, working under Stephen Murphy had several voluntary field workers under his control. These volunteers when visiting sites had observed a harrier which had been shot in the wing. On the next occasion when they returned to the same area the bird had disappeared into a black hole.

This follows the same trend for many fledged harriers which had been fitted with satellite or radio transmitters before they left the nest. The birds which had the misfortune to venture onto red grouse moors in England were quickly lost from radar, as all of a sudden their transmitters went silent and nothing more was seen of the majority of these birds.

One major incident worth recounting happened on the RSPB reserve at Geltsdale a number of years ago. A harrier fitted with a transmitter had been recorded wintering on the reserve but on the 15th April after venturing across the estate boundary onto the adjoining Red Grouse moor for the first time then suddenly disappeared after the transmitter fell silent. The bird was never to be seen or heard of again. It is difficult to understand also why no enquiries were undertaken by the police with the estate where the bird had last been last recorded.  Nor were any attempts made to recover the transmitter which can cost up to £3000 each..[singlepic id=181 w=318 h=450 float=right]

Given that as many as 150 wing tagged Hen Harriers are known to have disappeared in Ireland after leaving their nests, it will be interesting to see if as a result of the disappearance of a number of raptors fitted with transmitters, including golden eagle, merlin, hen harrier and peregrine which have all now gone missing in the Highlands, if any action will be taken. Information obtained from satellite transmitters has recently discovered in Scotland for example that especially juvenile Peregrine Falcons fitted with transmitters are possibly being shot after having been recorded visiting historical nesting sites once used by breeding peregrines in the past. Research has now shown for the first time, these incidents are happening on Red Grouse moors where traditional eyries formally occupied by peregrines are currently abandoned due to continued persecution. The persecution of raptors on Red Grouse moors co-insides with an increase in income for the owners of these moors.

4 comments to The Future for Skydancers

  • nirofo

    I wonder why it was necessary to waste so much money fitting radio transmitters on these birds when it is already so very well known that the majority of Hen harriers and Peregrines, not to mention Goshawks are shot as soon as they show their hooked beak anywhere near a Grouse moor, (strange they seem to prefer this habitat don’t you think). As for the Eagles, Kites and Buzzards, they don’t even bother wasting the cost of a shotgun cartridge on these horrible verminous birds when any old banned poison will do to get rid of them!!!


    • Trapit

      So another piece of the jigsaw falls into place. This has been in the planning for a long time, and shows again the deceitfulness of the RSPB. As a gamekeeper I would far rather deal with straight talking people like NWRPG and others of their kind of whom I have met quite a few. Any new initiative to help the Hen Harrier to exist with shooting estates is to be welcomed if lessons have been learned from passed failures. However excluding the very people who have worked tirelessly to protect these birds and supply reliable data to the once grateful RSPB for over 40 years is not the way forward.

      Fund the propaganda exercise from your own millions RSPB and leave the money to more deserving causes!

      • Ann Cardwell

        For the first time in my life I find I am in agreement with a gamekeeper, much of what Trapit has to say makes complete sense. As Natural England’s Hen Harrier Recovery project has failed completely what makes the RSPB think they can do any better?

        It is important here to bear in mind under the CRoW Act, before the RSPB can enter private moorland to undertake work associated with harriers, their paid workers will require the consent of the land owners to enter any estate.

  • daniel

    Is it not blatantly obvious that if your business relies on the persecution of protected wildlife in order for it to be financially viable, then it is not a legitimate business.