Bowland Raptor Report – A report the public are not allowed to read or know about.

I have just been handed a short dossier detailing raptor success and failures in Bowland compiled by a concerned member of the North West Raptor Protection Group. The NWRPG as we all now know was the group of raptor experts who lost their licenses which enabled members to protect raptors in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland. Licenses were restricted or revoked this season for upsetting Natural England by telling the truth. Well the truth is now plain for everyone to read, and I for one believe harsh judgements will be made based upon what I intend to make public.

If circumstances were different I would like to be informing Raptor Politics readers about the successes of raptors in Bowland this season, instead what I have to say makes for very depressing reading indeed. It would be easy for me to say that this year’s breeding statistics are entirely predictable. Taking away licenses from the very people who could have made a difference was a travesty and should not have happened and has now resulted in the decimation of peregrines throughout the Forest of Bowland, hey who cares?. But now those individuals who made that fateful decision must accept the consequences for their actions.

After carefully analysis and cross checking the details as far as possible which I have received, there are many adjectives I could have used to describe what has taken place, but one word above all the others sums up the situation we have been left with this summer, catastrophic. I don’t intend to go on and on, there is no need and to be truthful I am sickened by the figures I have been asked to pass on to the readers of Raptor Politics. What I would like to ask you all, after examination of the facts below, please make your feelings and points of views know by submitting your comments – please.

Peregrine Falcons – (26%) Successes

This year nineteen breeding attempts were made by individual pairs of peregrine falcons in the Forest of Bowland. This is normal, however two territories examined were found deserted last year and have remained deserted this season. I can only surmise why this should happen.

Of the nineteen recorded breeding attempts this season, only five nests were successfu. As licenses were not issued to the NWRPG this year, group members could only view nests from a safe distance and therefore it was not possible to establish complete totals for all fledged chicks. Raptor group members were able to establish three nests contained broods of two chicks, one three week old chick disappeared from the third nest which incidentally was a relay. Of the remaining two successful nests we have no precise records of numbers of young, if any, that successfully feldged.

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Peregrine Falcons – (74%) Failures

There are no surprises, fourteen nesting attempts this year failed to produce a single fledged chick. Of course a number of these losses can be attributed to the wet and cold weather. I am informed by members of the North West Raptor Protection Group that when making their observations of occupied peregrine territories this spring,  a number of nesting pairs or a single falcon from mated pairs disappeared from a high proportion of known territories. Some sceptics would argue these failures were all the result of the climate changes taking place, if that were the case I would point to the success of peregrine territories this year in East Lancashire, where incidentally the weather was just as atrocious, only a single nest failed due to nest robbers.

The figures recorded in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland this year for peregrine are by far the worst statistics for peregrines throughout the region since records began over thirty five years ago. Many associated with raptor conservation at the sharp end are firmly convinced these dramatic failures are not just coincidental, or for that matter have anything to do with the weather.  

Hen Harrier Success & Failure.

As expected information limited but numbers of displaying pairs down this year from ten to just six pairs. If this downward trend continues the hen harrier will almost certainly become extinct in Bowland within the next five years.

Only four nests recorded in Bowland this season with chicks, at least twelve. I do not have any additional details of a final tally of the numbers of chicks fledged, so the figure of twelve could by now be reduced. 

The single hen harrier nest in the Lake District failed this season due to adverse weather during incubation.

The one Derbyshire pair of hen harriers located in the Goyt Valley failed after the eggs were found smashed and the incubating female discovered killed at the nest.

Eagle Owl – Surprise, Surprise. Two territories 100 % Successful

Two pairs of eagle owls successfully reared broods of young against all the odds this year. Four owlets fledging from one site and three from the second; a good result. In addition even more good news for once, there have been no rumours of any hen harriers being predated by eagle owls so far. The one major obstacle facing the owlets this year, should any migrate onto adjoining shooting estates their future will be short in this world I am sorry to say.

Followers of this web should view the attached articles to understand more of the politics at play in Bowland.

12 comments to Bowland Raptor Report – A report the public are not allowed to read or know about.

  • jim buchannan

    Interesting, but before these statistics have any relevant meaning you will need to publish comparative data for the same sites from previous years.
    Who monitors these sites now? Do these published data mirror these of the present monitors?
    Do you have comparative data on similar sites which would give some indication as to how this years inclement weather has affected success.


    • alan

      Jim, comparisons have already been provided, read the article once again where RP have highlighted productive peregrine sites in East Lancashire. Its now up to Natural England to start getting their act together, after all they are responsible for this year’s problems, not the NWRPG. In reply to your last question, the majority of nests on private estates in Bowland are now completely unprotected and will remain so until licenses are reinstated. If licenses are not reinstated it will be up to individuals to draw their own conclusions as to the reasons. One thing is certain, estate gamekeepers will ensure the peregrine never recovers thanks to the gift they received courtesy of Natural England.

  • Jim Buchannan

    the statement “only a single nest failed” is hardly comparative data.
    I didn’t ask who is protecting these nests I asked who monitors the sites and if the authors results mirrored them.
    I feel it is you who should perhaps read a little more carefully.
    It’s very easy to play the blame game but without any hard facts that is all it is.
    I feel this airing of dirty laundy in a public arena does nothing for raptors and makes the participants look like bickering old fishwives.

    • Admin

      Jim, we are sorry if you think the facts which have been supplied are in some way associated with dirty laundry. We can only tell you what has happened this year; if you dispute these finding it’s up to you to prove they are wrong.

      We know the details are accurate and reflect on a very unsatisfactory situation, a situation which in our view can only get much worst.

      We are a little confused by your use of the words “airing of dirty laundry in a public arena”. In our opinion there is nothing wrong with highlighting to the wider public the failure or persecution of protected raptor nests in our country? In our report we do not draw any conclusions, we leave that to the imagination of our readers. From the tone of your comments we suspect you have already concluded the high number of eyries which failed this year did so by accident.

      If you have something constructive to add to this debate by all means submit another comment.

      It is clear from what has taken place this year in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, someone in authority needs to asses what the situation is, and if necessary take the appropriate action to protect our birds of prey in this region.

  • Once Natural England revoked the renewal of licences to the NWRPG, did they comment on how they would carry on the monitoring and protection of sites? It may have been published somewhere else sorry if it has.

    One things is for sure and the general public need to learn is Natural England might tout that Birds of Prey are heavily protected by law in this country but these figures show its a different thing happening outside their offices!

    • Admin

      In reply to your comments, Natural England have remained silent on any methodology they intended to use to ensure raptor sites outside the boundary of the United Utilities estates would be put in place to safeguarded Bowland’s nesting raptors in the future. From the detail given to Raptor Politics, Natural England seem to know little about the location of many of the peregrine nests which have disappeared this season. In view of the truly appalling situation this year it will be very interesting to see what Natural England intend to do to rectify a problem which they have caused.

      To be fair to Natural England, no one could have predicted the high level of failed peregrine territories or the disappearance from those same territories of so many breeding pairs of adult falcons this season. Watch this space.

      It seems reasonable to suspect someone in the area has taken advantage of the removal of licenses from the local raptor group this year to thin out the number of active peregrine nests in Bowland this year. What the outcome will be next year is anyones guess.

      • TerryPickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

        To get a handle on the situation which has taken place in the Forest of Bowland this season, it would be useful if everyone read the following: Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, details of the act can be found by following the attached link. (

        Under section 40 of the Act: Duty to conserve biodiversity, subsection (1) and (3) what the act says is very specific, see below.

        (1) Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity..

        (3)Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat..

        If it can be demonstrated as a result of action taken by Natural England this year, in this case revoking and not renewing Schedule 1 licenses held by the local raptor group allowing members to protect these birds, raptors within a specific habitat have been adversely effected or degraded resulting from that action, Natural England may have failed in their duty to conserve biodiversity.

  • Does anybody have any info on how many eagle owls there are in Britain

  • paul williams

    Natural England along with the RSPB have personally let me down. I spent a lot of my time and money monitoring private estates peregrine sites which faired well last year. Not one of those sites produced chicks this year.The RSPB are reported to have wanted more experienced raptor workers to monitor these sites…Natural England…you took away my took away protection…you took away the peregrine. Natural England and RSPB…your idea of experience is NOT he same as mine.

  • skydancer

    Paul, The reason you lost your licence was not because the RSPB were looking for more experienced raptor workers, what the RSPB along with Natural England were looking for was raptor workers that would not “rock the boat” by that i mean they were looking for field workers that would keep quiet about the terrible persecution which goes on year by year on Bowland’s shooting estates. This year’s figures published by Raptor Politics highlight the plight of raptors like the peregrine and hen harrier in Bowland – truly appalling. The question everyone should be asking, why is Natural England trying to cover up this criminal activity by removing licenses held by experienced raptor workers who’s only aim is to expose the facts??????

    In my opinion there are a small number of licenced individuals lacking in principle who are only interested in working on the United Utilities estate at the expence of the birds they are licensed to monitor. It is clear these individuals are too frightened to speak about the persecution which they know is going on, which under the circumstances is understandable, knowing they risk being excluded from the estate like the NWRPG if they speak out.

    This year the RSPB volunteers monitored the 2nd Eagle Owl territory and i am sure took all the plaudits for the successful fledging of the owlets this season. Last year the same volunteers allowed the owlets at the same site to starve to death.
    It was left to the dedication and hard work of the NWRPG to make sure the one surviving owlet fledged successfully; this result i might add was after someone else took the glory of ringing the owlets before two of them were allowed to die.

    So you see Paul the reason you lost your licence was because you and the other members of the NWRPG were prepared to highlight the persecution of birds of prey in Bowland, irrespective of the political consequences of doing so. What you and the other members of the NWRPG have gained is a great deal of self-respect and the satisfaction that you have undertaken your work at all times with the interests of the birds in mind.

  • almost as bad as northumberland!!