The killing of 2 Peregrines in 2016 at a Forest of Bowland eyrie brought about the end of an era.

The video above was captured by a covert camera positioned overlooking this active Forest of Bowland Peregrine nest in April 2016. The District Judge who heard the case at Preston Magistrates court beginning in September 2017, ruled the video evidence inadmissible as the camera had been installed illegally without the landowners approval. The Judge also stated she was not convinced by the argument that the camera had been installed at the nest to record breeding activity. Instead she had no doubt the video camera had been installed to capture criminal activity (the illegal killing of two breeding Peregrines at the nest), which the Judge then pointed out had been against the law for several reasons. 

Having witnessed the disappearances of both Hen Harriers and Peregrines from the Bleasdale estate, the recent killing of the two breeding Peregrine falcons at the territory involved in this case highlights a serious and unacceptable situation, not only on Bleasdale but on all of Bowland’s privately owned grouse shooting estates. Over a decade ago I notified the RSPB of what had been taking place at this Bleasdale Peregrine territory where both adult falcons were killed in 2016, asking the Society to consider installing a surveillance camera. Shortly thereafter the RSPB asked me if I would accompany a member of their technical staff to the site to investigate the feasibility of installing a covert surveillance camera at the territory in an attempt to catch the person or persons responsible for the repetitive failure of this breeding site. For what ever reasons, after the examination of the nesting site had been completed I never heard any more from the RSPB regarding the matter. This fateful decision subsequently proved to have been a fundamental mistake, facilitating the loss of additional breeding pairs of Peregrines from this territory together with many clutches of eggs disappearing or being found abandoned in the nest scrape in the years that followed.

In April 2016, the female Peregrine was almost certainly shot to death by an unidentified person videoed climbing into the breeding scrape flushing the female Peregrine from her nest. Hours later the video recorded the male Peregrine returning to the nest where he was immediately snared by one foot in a trap placed in the nest alongside the eggs. The trapped Peregrine was then left to suffer unimaginable agony for ten hours before further video captured an unidentified person holding a flashlight while removing the male falcon from the trap. The video then showed the falcon being stuffed into a bag before being taken away. Its important to understand this nest site was located in the middle of isolated heather moorland some 2 miles from the nearest public road. Such activity undertaken during the middle of the night shows a clear knowledge of the area having more in keeping with SAS activity, and the skills to have been carried out at the dead of night on such unforgiving heather moorland.

The destruction of the nesting pair of Peregrines at the Bleasdale site in April 2016 marked the end of an important era for Forest of Bowland raptors. In 2017 and 2018 as far as I am aware, there were no occupied Peregrine falcon nests recorded on any of Bowland’s privately owned shooting estates. This has resulted in as many as16 historic Peregrine nest sites currently unoccupied. There has been no successful Hen Harriers nests sites recorded on any of Bowland’s privately owned estates since 2006.


Terry Pickford making his second visit in two years to the Peregrine territory where in 2016 two breeding Peregrines were destroyed. Both of Terry’s subsequent visits undertaken in July of  2017 and 2018 proved the site had remained untenanted by Peregrines since the 2016 pair were destroyed.

This case highlighted a major flaw in English wildlife legislation underlining the fact that bringing any successful criminal prosecution against the killers of protected raptors on grouse moors will be unlikely in the future.

2 comments to The killing of 2 Peregrines in 2016 at a Forest of Bowland eyrie brought about the end of an era.

  • Albert Ross

    So to have brought the case the individual was identified from the Video and charged? Did he have landowner permission to do what he was doing? If so the landowner is also guilty and should be charged.
    If no permission the guy was committing armed trespass.
    The Judge was technically correct BUT misguided. It means that any person caught on a covert camera will escape justice and that is simply unacceptable.
    As the “Trial” was public there is no legal reason why the accused, and acquitted defendant cannot be named. So who was it and where does he live?

    Editors Comment.

  • Stuart Pryor

    The sooner we elect a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government the better.I find it scandalous the amount of ‘insider influence ”that the landed gentry have in this day and age. Whenever I visit the Forest of Bowland I am appalled at the lack of birds of prey in their natural environment and habitat. Thank goodness for people like Terry Pickford and his team giving up their time and energy to highlight what is going on there. The sooner the better that driven grouse shooting is banned and a more wildlife friendly system is allowed to flourish, for the many who would visit and spend their money locally.