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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Looking Back, Persecution and Surveying

12 years ago I got the Peregrine bug, I was employed as a Steelfixer working on a construction site in Inner London and without being too dramatic, from that day I was hooked.
Most mornings on this site I kept noticing 1 or 2 birds at a distance soaring occasionally above a building or perched on or near it, I knew they were raptors being a birder, usually you would go straight for Kestrel or Sparrowhawk.But I was 100% sure on these being peregrines and so approached NaturalEngland, from that day as they say my birding world changed with most weekends and sometimes weekdays now taken up monitoring and assisting pairs in London.

They have become my main passion and taken over a large part of my life, my wife Christine puts up with me well, very well as I disappear in darkness for my regular dawn starts. It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to give them a helping hand, in most cases a nest box but sometimes a tray, the end result for me in seeing successful breeding justifies all those dawn starts.

If like me you follow and
you will know that raptors, especially up north and Scotland are not faring as well as they should be, persecution in rural areas is regular. It is a disgrace that this happens in the modern era, you only have to look at the plight of the Hen Harrier in England, soon to be lost as a breeding bird unless they can reverse its fortunes.
Vicarious Liability is a step in the right direction, if a game keeper on a shooting estate is charged with a wildlife crime, the landowner also assumes the responsibility for the crime, in short he is nicked as well.It has to be stiffer sentences though or there will be no deterrent, a fine to a wealthy man is not enougth.
A recent case, see Raptor Persecution Scotland concerned the death of a Golden Eagle, have a look, read what happened first and then the Police response after, this is why the law as it stands is inadequate.

On a lighter note I have recently been surveying in both Kent and Essex, winter time for both counties is good for Birds of Prey, Marsh Harriers in particular have been rather obvious I am glad to say. Below are some photos from recent surveys, not great it has to be said, a combination of crap weather and my unwillingness to keep changing settings, some days I yearn for an auto.

An essex bird - Short Eared Owl

Female Sparrowhawk

Barn Owl

Marsh Harrier

A Kent bird - Tiercel Peregrine, had to put one of these in

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