The Derwent Valley in the Derbyshire Peak District has held a small but stable population of goshawks for more than 30 years. Following evidence that the success of nesting goshawks had declined from the mid 1990s, the Peak Nestwatch Partnership was formed in 2000.
This partnership comprises the Severn Trent Water, National Trust, RSPB, Peak District National Park Authority, Forestry Commission, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire Police and the South Peak Raptor Study Group. The Partnership employs a variety of intelligence and surveillance techniques on vulnerable nests, and has enabled thousands of people to watch peregrines, goshawks and other upland birds in the valley, through guided walks, observation points and a CCTV nestwatch.
Direct evidence of human intereference is difficult to come by, and finding culprits even harder. But the consistent and high failure rate could not be explained by natural causes. Further, it is no coincidence that the nests which suffer from unexplained failures, mysterious disappearances, and definite persecution are all in, or adjacent to grouse-shooting areas.
It is also significant that goshawks and peregrines are faring successfully in the Peak District away from grouse-shooting areas.
- To enable protected birds of prey to live and nest in the Dark Peak without human persecution or disturbance
Work planned or underwayThe partnership has employed a Nestwatch coordinator and has deployed surveillance and nest protection equipment around vulnerable nest sites.
Unfortunately an early success after the project was launched was short-lived, and mysterious nest failures, disappearances of adult birds and evidence of human interference continue to occur every year.
Methods of persecution seem to become more sophisticated with time, but equally, our methods of surveillance and detection are becoming more sophisticated.
In 2008, no hen harriers bred, with birds disappearing after they had been observed skydancing and copulating. Six goshawk sites were occupied in 2008, but only three pairs nested, and only one successfully reared chicks.
No peregrines nested in 2008, despite there being five traditional sites, and away from grouse-shooting areas peregrines were very site-faithful and enjoyed a high nesting success.
Who to contact
Dr Tim Melling
Casework & Species Protection Officer
PartnersPeak Nestwatch consists of a consortium of partners made up of Severn Trent Water, The National Trust, Forestry Commission, Peak District National Park Authority, The RSPB, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire Police Forces and the South Peak Raptor Study Group.
FundingSevern Trent Water are the main funding partner, although all partners give freely of time and expertise.