Fury after Peregrine Falcon found shot dead at Lancashire Church.

Sadly incidents of illegal killing of England’s ‘protected’ birds of prey, whether on Red Grouse moors or in the urban environment are increasing despite what our present Prime Minister is telling the public in Parliament. Conveniently Mrs. May has overlooked the fact that the Hen Harrier did not breed last year on any grouse moor in England. The Peregrine has already disappeared as a successful breeding species from most moorland in England where Red Grouse are shot. In Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland since 2010 as many as 18 Peregrine nesting territories are now abandoned.

It is very sad therefore to be reporting that on Wednesday 15th February 2017, the corpse of an adult female Peregrine Falcon (part of a breeding pair), was discovered by the North West Raptor Group lying in a water cutter 75 feet above the ground on a coastal church, where the pair had been successfully raising their young for many years. In 2016 the nesting pair raising a brood of three chicks successfully. Because of a heinous act of utter barbarism the female was shot while perched above the church car park, bringing the productive lineage of this pair to a tragic end.


X-Ray showing a single lead pellet lodged in the back of the dead Peregrine.


When the corpse of the Peregrine was first discovered lifeless 75 feet above the ground, it was obvious the falcons recovery from the water gutter was not going to be a straight forward or easy task. Terry Pickford who was on site regarding another issue decided the only viable option was to seek the assistance of the local Fire and Rescue Team. When contacted the team leader Steve was only too happy to commit manpower resources to recover the dead Peregrine. Steve decided this would be the ideal opportunity to provide his men with abseiling experience. Thanks in no small part to what Steve and his rescue team achieved the body of Peregrine was quickly recovered and brought down to the ground.


The Peregrine as we would all wish to see them. Flying free as they should always be.

Once on the ground Terry Pickford, a member of the North West Raptor Protection Group, carried out a cursory examination of the body. He was able to establish the Peregrine was an adult female aged between 4 to 5 years old weighing 0.91 kilo. Prior to its death the Peregrine had been in very good health. Terry then took the corpse of the Peregrine to his local vet by prior appointment where an x-ray quickly determined the falcon had been shot by a single lead pellet which had lodged in the birds back.


Regional coordinator for the North West Raptor Protection Group, Terry Pickford, with the peregrine falcon that was shot in St Annes.

Terry Pickford said “This latest incident is heartbreaking and I know a lot of people around St Anne’s and Lytham will understandably be furious and upset about it.

The Peregrine was handed to the police on Friday 17th February who will now arrange for the corpse to undergo a toxicology and physical examination to determine precisely what caused the death of the falcon.

We wish to express our sincere thanks to the church officers and the Lancashire Fire Service for their invaluable help and cooperation in the recovery of the dead Peregrine.


10 comments to Fury after Peregrine Falcon found shot dead at Lancashire Church.

  • Check those back gardens for a pigeon loft!

  • Yet again this sad and totally brutal hatred of raptors. No use involving the police as they will do nothing but issue useless statements.

  • Trapit

    The x-ray seems to show a single pellet, most likely from a shotgun cartridge.
    It is possible to fire a ‘BB’ pellet through an air rifle,but this seems too small for that,in any case it would be very inaccurate and lacking power at the distance necessary to overcome the acute angle to the birds perch.
    I think the bird was hit some distance away, and managed to return before succumbing.

    Editor’s Comment. This is a very interesting one which the police must investigate. Across the road from the church is the Ribble estuary, further east the Freckleton Marsh. Terry Pickford asked the police to examine the pellet carefully, in particular looking to see if the pellet is:

    (A) .22 air rifle pellet.
    (B) a lead shot gun pellet.
    (C) a non lead pellet fired from a shotgun.

    If the examination finds its a (C), then this would suggest the pellet had been fired over the marsh where lead shot is prohibited.

    • Tiercel

      From the size in comparison to the bird’s femur, it looks like a .22 air rifle pellet. Which as well as implicating pigeon keepers, could also have been local kids shooting anything that moves.

      Editor’s Comment. We believe you may be correct, it makes more sense. Perhaps the police will be able to confirm this?

  • Astott

    And we wonder what caused the death of this bird. Let’s have an autopsy.. Oh my it was shot, oh my, oh never. Why who would shoot a bird such as this.
    ….. Mmmm

    Editor’s Comment. The body of the peregrine recovered by Terry Pickford from the church was handed to the Police on Friday 17 February. Its now in their hands.

  • Trapit

    This sad tale nevertheless shows one of the strengths of this website. Though covering worthy news items, gathered from a wide range of sources, what sets it apart is “feet on the ground”.

    The commendably swift action by Terry Pickford, involving various branches of the local community, has brought this problem to a wide audience that previously may have been in ignorance. Enlisting the help of the local fire service was a masterstroke, and their immediate offer of assistance, and obvious enthusiasm does them credit.

    Likewise the veterinary practice that conducted the initial x-rays, without which there would not have been such a swiftly released story.

    Hopefully, the strong feelings of local residents will ensure a full investigation is conducted,and the incident not put on the back burner. A number of regional newspapers have covered the story, however at least one has not cited the North West Raptor Protection Greoup, instead crediting material to the RSPB.

    A little ironic really, considering the obstacles the latter organisation consistently put in the way of the local group.

  • david holden

    As the pellet is round it is not a standard airgun pellet but could be a BB. If it turns out to be a shotgun pellet the bird was not shot on the perch where it was found as from the video there does not seem to be marks on the soft weathered stone of the church wall.I think the bird was shot at another location made it back to its roost and died there. Whatever it is a bloody stupid act carried out by an idiot.

  • Les Wallace

    They were probably more prevalent in my childhood, but still too many idiots with airguns roaming about. We’ve finally got some licensing legislation in Scotland (a small boy was killed by an idiot with an airgun some years ago) but of course that was opposed by the Scottish gamekeeper’s Association. Awful whoever did it.

  • Think David has hit the nail on the head.

  • Is now the time for the UK to revisit low calibre Gun Law ? accidental and intentional wounding incidents are on the rise , the dangerous knife act became law after statistics showed controls were needed. A 0.22 rifle can kill wildlife and humans at a given range.yet be aware we have many thousands of trained , registered gun owners ,also gun & rifle clubs who hold to the highest levels of standards and safety.
    Its the ” lower end misuse” that needs renewal legislation and enforcement. coupled with an uplift on fines.
    As an avid RSPB member I feel the membership base should call for a national review & consultation. or direct the issue cross party to MPs.