Hopefully by now you will have realised that the RSPB is in the process of embarking on a three year Bird of Prey campaign. We, like the raptors, need your support, particularly if you are a land manager who welcomes birds of prey and wishes to share your good practice. At the very least, please sign a pledge calling for an end to the mindless slaughter. We would also like to hear from you so we can use your stories and experience in our liaison work with other farmers and landowners.
Talking of birds of prey, the burning question for the past three weeks has been ‘who did it?’ Sworn to secrecy, my lips were sealed. Keen listeners to the Radio 4 programme The Archers will know exactly what I am on about.
A few weeks ago, a dead red kite was found illegally poisoned in Ambridge and all the fingers started pointing at Will, the young gamekeeper. The story took on various twists including Will finding a poisoned buzzard and burying it in panic.
Late last week, listeners finally found out who the real culprit was when Will discovered a poisoning kit in the estate vehicle used by Malcolm – the estate underkeeper.
Of course, this incident is just fictional but sadly it’s all too real for the Police, RSPB and Government conservation agencies who collectively deal with scores of illegally poisoned raptors, and other wildlife each year. Only last year, 58 birds of prey were confirmed as having been illegally poisoned – this equates to one per week and the true figure is thought to be much higher. Appalled? Please sign our pledge.
It’s not all bad news. Only yesterday I was helping BAA at a major UK airport with an exceptionally rare visitor that had flown in and landed in a rather inappropriate location.
The bird in question was a young female Montagu’s harrier which had chosen to hunt the verges of the main runway. The runway security team spotted the bird and thinking it was a hen harrier contacted the RSPB with some photographs.
I attended shortly after and was amazed to find the bird to be the UK’s rarest breeding raptor, the Montagu’s harrier. I obtained excellent views and hopefully passed on helpful advice to the airport in managing the stay of this long-haul visitor, which has just migrated from East Africa. Impressed? – Please sign our pledge.