Below are aggregated posts from various wildlife blogs created by people within the Forest of Bowland (bowlandwildlife.org.uk accept no responsibility for any content not created directly by bowlandwildlife.org.uk)

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May 27th, 2016

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: In with a Chance – satellite-tagged hen harrier returns home

Our last Skydancer blog focused on the sad fate of the young satellite-tagged hen harrier, Lad, who barely a month after fledging, was found dead in the Cairngorms National Park, brought down by injuries “consistent with the damage caused by shooting” (see here ). Today however, I’m delighted to have a much happier story to share – our remaining satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, has returned home! Chance is a female hen harrier who was satellite-tagged by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and fledged from a nest in Southwest Scotland in June 2014. Although this was just before the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project began, the project has been following her movements since it launched and the story that has unfolded is a remarkable example of just how wide-ranging and unpredictable hen harriers can be. Chance displaying her satellite tag at RSPB Wallasea reserve, October 2014. Image (c) Tony Orwell Having spread her wings in the late summer around the Scottish borders, she slowly made her way south, exploring the uplands of Northern England before being spotted at RSPB’s Wallasea reserve in Essex in October 2014. There we thought she’d stay but the south of England clearly wasn’t far south enough for this adventurous bird and by the end of that month, she had crossed the Channel and set up home in the Pay de Loire region of Northern France! Come April 2015, Chance was showing every sign of staying put but in late May, she surprised us all by crossing the Channel once more and heading north, briefly to Scotland and ultimately settling down to spend her summer exploring the hills of Northeast England.   Chance’s route south from Northumberland to France took only three days, in October 2015. Her rapid return journey north  from France to Scotland  took just four days, in May 2016. When autumn came this time, there was no hanging about. In October 2015 Chance flew from Northumberland, via South Wales, back to Northern France in the space of just three days! Now, after another winter of watching and waiting, Chance has returned to the UK once more, this time taking just four days to travel up the east coast of England and back to where she started in Southwest Scotland. From Scotland to England, Wales, and France, the remarkable journey of this young female is an important reminder that if we want to truly secure a future for hen harriers in any one part of the UK, they need to be protected throughout the whole of it. Increased satellite tagging through the Hen Harrier LIFE Project is playing a vital role in this by helping us to better understand where hen harriers go and to highlight where they’re most at risk.  It’s incredible to think that without satellite tagging, we would never have had the faintest idea of the incredible journey our Chance was undertaking every winter. So now she’s back, what next? As a second year bird, there’s every possibility Chance will attempt to breed this year but with her late arrival on the scene, will she find a mate in time? Follow her fortunes on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website as we map her movements every two weeks and follow us on twitter @RSPB_Skydancer .   

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April 21st, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Baby Bunnies

I know I’ll regret it but its just too cute to chase off !

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April 20th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Bleasdale

The fells around Bleasdale looked amazing, clear and bright in the sunshine, lots of curlew, lapwings and lambs.The old blonde stems of the rushes shimmering in the breeze. Saw my first swallow of the year. Its in for a shock this weekend – back to win…

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April 19th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Bee flies are back.

Beautiful bee flies are back in the garden feeding on the primulas. All we need are the swallows back now!

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April 17th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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Restoring the Ford over the Roeburn

The river Roeburn ford on the farm was washed away during the floods in December. Luckily, one of our neighbour’s runs an environmental ground works business and in no time at all has restored the crossing. Hope you enjoy the video that Rod made as muc…

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April 15th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2016-04-15 10:23:00

Nearly every Bumblebee I saw in Slaidburn on Wednesday had lots of mites clinging to them. On the Bumblebee Conservation Trusts web page they say that generally mites are harmless. The mites will probably have hibernated with the young queen and when s…

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April 11th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Butterflies

Butterflies are back, not easy to stop in the first photo, just looks like a dead leaf when its wings are closed.CommaComma

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April 9th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Frogs and Bees

The frogs have found the pond we made last year, one male has been sat in it croaking away and must have been successful as there are several clumps of frog spawn in it. I found an exhausted bee in the garden one evening and gave it some watered down b…

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April 8th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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Early Spring in the Woods

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April 8th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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River Flow Research by Rod Everett

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April 6th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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Peregrines in the Forest of Bowland

UPDATE: Peregrines in the Forest of Bowland finally brought down by prejudice and misguided politics

Update 26-03-2016 : The list gets longer
Based upon information received last night, we are currently investigating claims sent to us by a concerned Bowland raptor worker that our list of sites was missing 3 peregrine territories he believes are also abandoned. We have now checked out one of these sites and the information has proved valid. Any subsequent additional abandoned sites we are able to verify will be added in RED to our existing list. Any sites discovered to have been reoccupied this season will be changed to GREEN.
We would like to think our treatment of wildlife has improved since 1947 when the first recorded pair of breeding Peregrine falcons located in the Forest of Bowland were shot and their clutch of 4 eggs destroyed by estate gamekeepers. The reality is the situation today on England’s moorland uplands where red grouse are shot is now much worse than it was all those years ago. Throughout a majority of these moorland areas, peregrines and hen harriers are becoming more conspicuous each season by their almost total absence from these regions..

Dodo
The most suitable logo that depicts the situation throughout this area designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.’ 

In the spring of 2009 seventeen occupied peregrine territories were recorded by licensed members of the North West Raptor Group in the Forest of Bowland. One year later, in 2010 Natural England, (the Government’s Wildlife Advisor on the Natural Environment) with-held licences which they had previously issued permitting the group to monitor and protect peregrines, including several other threatened raptor species for over thirty five years; just 4 years later fifteen of these historic territories had been found abandoned resulting in the disappearance of the adult falcons..
In 2014 taking into account the unprecedented disappearance of so many Peregrines in such a short time frame from one moorland region, Terry Pickford a founder member of the NWRG (1967) appealed Natural England’s decision asking them to reinstate his license, they refused. The 3 reasons provided by Natural England for their decision were as ridiculous as they were illogical, read below..

  1. Terry was advised other licence holders had been appointed to cover this region. (Terry had worked in Bowland since 1975 protecting peregrines )
  2. Terry’s presence would cause unnecessary disturbance to nests. (What nests, by this time the peregrine was almost extinct in Bowland? )
  3. Issuing Terry with  license would cause duplication of nest visits. (How could anyone duplicate visits to nests that no longer existed? )

Based upon valid arguments contained in Terry Pickford’s licence reinstatement request, amongst other facts, he highlighted that Peregrines and a high number of their nests were being destroyed at an unprecedented rate on estates in Bowland; who’s interests were Natural England really trying to protect by refusing to reinstate his Bowland licence we might ask?
Putting Natural England’s decision into perspective it is important to point out Terry Pickford has held a BTO class ‘A’ ringing permit since 1986 authorising him to ring nestlings at the nests of the 6 schedule 1 raptor species listed in the table below. He currently holds a scientific disturbance licence for Peregrine (Cumbria Only), Goshawk (Lancashire and Cumbria), Red Kite (South Cumbria & Lancashire), Osprey (Cumbria & Lancashire), Barn Owl, Golden Eagle (Scotland). Natural England for some curious reason refuse to issue a Peregrine licence for use in Bowland to any member of the NWRG where persecution is widespread, but on the other hand are happy to support his licence for use in Cumbria where persecution is very low.

  1. Peregrine
  2. Goshawk
  3. Hen Harrier
  4. Red Kite
  5. Osprey
  6. Golden Eagle (Scotland)

Taking into account what has taken place in Bowland since 2010, there can no longer be any doubt it was not the Peregrines or their nests Natural England were concerned about saving. Natural England in reaching their decision refusing to reinstate the license of an extremely experienced and conscientious field worker chose instead to ignore the systematic extermination of a protected species taking place in the Forest of Bowland. In our view this was  a misguided attempt to prevent the embarrassment of estates by covering up the illegal killing of Peregrines and the destruction of historic nest sites taking place with impunity. Keeping Terry Pickford together with the rest of the membership of the NWRG out of Bowland, would in some people’s warped opinion conveniently keep this important criminal activity from becoming public knowledge.
Just in case you are one of the sceptics, we have added details of twenty one Peregrine territories below, which are known to have been abandoned inside the boundary of the Forest of Bowland since 2010. You may feel these desertions are coincidental, but you would be wrong. An RSPB spokesperson writing in the Lancashire Life in 2014 explained these losses, details which were never published within the annual RSPB Crime Report Figures as even suspicious, were the result of climate change and the lack of suitable prey, plus possibly some persecution. Well the RSPB would know because they are paid to protect raptors inside the Forest of  Bowland.

22 Forest of Bowland Peregrine territories confirmed abandoned as of this week. 

United Utilities:

  1. Trough Bank, (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  2. Burn Fell (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  3. Lythe Fell, (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  4. Langden Head, (2 alternate sites abandoned)
  5. Brennand Fell, (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  6. Bleadale,  (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  7. Burnslack Fell, (1 site recorded, used once before being abandoned)
  8. Hareden, (1 site recorded, found abandoned 20th March 2016)
  9. Grindleton Fell. (1 site recorded containing 2 chicks. 1 chick shot. 2nd chick observed on wing one mile from nest) Shoot closed down. No charges brought following police investigation into actions of tenant gamekeeper.
Abbeystead and Littledale
  1. Threaphaw Fell, (Nesting Ledge Destroyed)
  2. Marshaw Fell, (1 site Nesting Ledge Destroyed, 2 additional sites abandoned)
  3. Hawthornthwaite Fell, (3 additional sites abandoned)
  4. Catshaw Greave, ( site abandoned, traps and grit trays placed close to nests)
  5. Foxdale Beck, (3 alternate sites each abandoned)
  6. Mallowdale Pike, (In 2010, 2 nestlings disappeared, site abandoned ever since)
  7. Tarnbrook Fell, (Nesting Ledge Destroyed prior to 2010)
Bleasdale
  1. Grizedale Fell, (Nesting site on ground burnt out)
  2. Luddock Fell, (Nesting site on ground burnt out)
  3. Bleasdale Moor, (Clutch of 3 eggs disappeared within one day of nest being located 2015, site now abandoned)
Greenbank
  1. Greenbank Fell, (3 additional sites abandoned)(Clutches of Eggs disappeared, 2006, 2007, also in 2013, 14. (Site abandoned since single male peregrine disappeared in 2015.)
Cloughton Moor.
  1. Cloughton Quarry, Nesting ledge destroyed 2015, suspected clutch of eggs disappeared in 2014. ( Site found abandoned March 2016)
Cow Ark.
  1. Birket Fell, (Nesting Ledge destroyed in 2010/11 site abandoned)
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March 27th, 2016

Alison Kelsall

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Lapwing nest

We have several lapwings nesting on our land again

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March 22nd, 2016

Alison Kelsall

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Quadruple lambs!

Steve got a surprise this morning. When he went to look round the sheep one of the ewes had given birth to quads!

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March 22nd, 2016

Bea Ayling

Blog Post: Hen Harrier “Lad” found dead on Speyside

By Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations, Scotland Lad was a male hen harrier who was fitted with a LIFE+ Project satellite tag by licensed RSPB staff on 16 th July 2015, a few days before he fledged from a nest on an estate owned by Wildland Ltd in the Cairngorms National Park, in southern Inverness-shire. After fledging in late July, Lad stayed close to the nest area until the last week of August, when he then moved a short distance away from the estate where he was tagged.  Photo credit: Dave Pullan Only a few days later, on 3 rd September, RSPB staff monitoring the transmissions from Lad’s tag became concerned that he had stopped moving in an area of moorland, still within the National Park, near Newtonmore. On the 10 th , with further transmissions confirming he was dead, RSPB Scotland Investigations staff visited the area after informing the police, and found Lad’s body lying face down in the heather. The carcass was recovered, the police were informed, and Lad’s remains were delivered to the SRUC Veterinary laboratory near Penicuik the following day. Photo credit: RSPB Investigations We received the preliminary post mortem report from the laboratory a few days later. It stated: “The skin was split open on the left side of the neck parallel with the jugular groove. There was haemorrhage in the subcutaneous tissues in this area and a horizontal split in the trachea. There was damage to three feathers of the right wing consisting of a single groove mark perpendicular to the shaft of each feather.” The body was then X-rayed. The subsequent follow-up SRUC post mortem report from 29 th September stated: “Despite the failure to identify metallic fragments within the carcase the appearance of the damage to the wing feathers is consistent with damage caused by shooting. The injury to the neck could be explained by a shot gun pellet passing straight through the soft tissue of the neck. Both injuries could have brought the bird down and proved fatal.” Copies of the preliminary and follow-up post mortem reports were immediately passed to Police Scotland. RSPB Scotland understands that the police have subsequently had meetings with representatives of several estates located in the vicinity of where Lad’s body was recovered. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Wildland Ltd who gave permission and access to fit the satellite tag on Lad, staff at the SRUC Veterinary laboratory for undertaking the post mortem work and to Police Scotland for their follow-up to this case. We are of course saddened that the sudden death of Lad has deprived us of the opportunity to follow his travels through Scotland and beyond, and maybe go on to raise chicks of his own. We wish to appeal to anyone who can provide any information about Lad’s untimely and early death to contact Police Scotland on 101.  

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March 21st, 2016

Bea Ayling

Blog Post: Nile the hen harrier helps the conservation of his species

Last summer, we fitted a satellite tag to a male hen harrier chick at a nest in Northumberland. He was named Nile by our Investigations team. We were able to track his movements south to Salisbury Plain over the autumn, and along with records from the Wiltshire Ornithological Society, his tag revealed new winter roosting and foraging areas for hen harriers in the area. Nile with his satellite tag fitted (photo credit: RSPB Investigations) The MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) – responsible for managing and maintaining the MoD’s land and properties – has been working with its tenants for many years to implement management measures at known roost sites to improve conditions for hen harriers. The new information from Nile’s tag will allow the DIO to implement further measures in these new areas to make their land even better for these spectacular birds. Sadly, not long after migrating across the channel to northern France, data for Nile’s tag showed that he had died. We organised a search for his body, but unfortunately it could not be found so we will never know his cause of death. Although we are gutted that we were not able to follow Nile’s progress further, it’s heartening to know that information from his satellite tag will help protect roosting harriers in future.

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March 18th, 2016

Bea Ayling

Blog Post: National Hen Harrier Survey 2016

Guest blog by Simon Wotton, RSPB Conservation Science There will be a full survey of breeding hen harriers in the UK and Isle of Man in 2016.  The last national survey of this UK red-listed species of conservation concern was in 2010, when the population was estimated at 662 territorial pairs (95% confidence interval, 576–770), an 18% decline in the population between 2004 and 2010. The population decreased in parts of Scotland and the Isle of Man, and remains at very low levels in England.  The survey will provide updated estimates of population size and national and regional trends since 2010.  As a high profile species of great conservation concern, current information on status across the UK range is vital. In Scotland, the survey is being organised by RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Raptor Study Group.  Survey coverage will be organised in coordination with the Scottish Raptor Study Group. Non-random ‘census’ coverage of core areas will be carried out by volunteers, and randomly selected 10km squares will be surveyed in the rest of the range, by RSPB fieldworkers. The survey area (the species’ known range) has been defined using results of the last survey and the Bird Atlas 2007-11, consultation within the RSPB and with the statutory conservation agencies, and by approaching Raptor Study Groups for their knowledge and details of the “core areas” for hen harrier that they usually monitor. Planned survey coverage in Scotland, by volunteers and RSPB fieldworkers. Elsewhere, it is expected that complete coverage will be achieved of all suitable 10km squares within the Hen Harrier range in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.  The other survey partners are Natural England, Northern England Raptor Forum, Natural Resources Wales, Manx BirdLife and the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group. Field surveys will follow the well-established two to three visit method between late March and the end of July, giving the advantage of good comparability with previous surveys.  If no birds have been seen, or breeding has not been confirmed, during the first two visits, a third visit may be made between late June and the end of July.  

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March 15th, 2016

Vanellus

Comment on Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent

Can we have a shower gel as well? I don’t like baths but I do love hen harriers.

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March 15th, 2016

Vanellus

Comment on Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent

Can we have a shower gel as well? I don’t like baths but I do love hen harriers.

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March 15th, 2016

Bea Ayling

Blog Post: Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent

Guest blog by Paul Morton – Lush Campaigns, to celebrate raising £100,000 for satellite tagging of hen harriers over the coming years. It’s always good to start off a story with a bit of nostalgia, especially when one of your favourite birds is involved. Baz Luhrmann (remember him? No? Sunscreen? oh never mind) famously philosophised that nostalgia is a form of advice that you drag up from the past and distribute to unsuspecting victims. Well, I’m glad that an experience I had when I was 10 years old enabled me to advise 33 year old me to take note and remember that wildlife, nature and particularly male hen harriers are beautiful….never to be forgotten (or lost). You see, I live on the edge of Poole Harbour, a stones throw away from RSPB Arne Nature Reserve, a great place for winter birds of prey, then and now. 10 year old me was sat in the Shipstal Hide with my mum, watching avocets, curlew and redshank, when a gentleman with a scope sat next to me shouted out ‘HEN HARRIER!’. Now, one of my favourite hobbies was reading my Collins Field Guide over and over and I had a mental note in my head of all birds I was expecting to see in Poole Harbour during my life time and hen harrier certainly wasn’t on that list (neither was great northern diver, ring ouzel or red kite to be perfectly honest with you)! Slightly puzzled, I asked if I could take a look and what I saw I’ll never forget. A male hen harrier quartering along the spartina fringes of Gold Point, a finger of land that points out into the harbour. Star struck and speechless I watched it for what seemed like hours but must have only been seconds before it carried on over the marsh and behind the woodland never to be seen again. I felt like I had won in life already and nothing could better this experience….ever! Fast-forward 15 years and I somehow managed to wangle a job at RSPB Arne nature reserve as an Information Officer, a job that required me to educate and enthuse people about the reserves wildlife…and enthuse I did. I was at Arne for two years and loved my time there, saw some amazing things and met some incredible people. Yet, without doubt, my highlight at Arne would be bunking off 20 minutes early (sorry Lynne) during the winter, and going to watch hen harriers before they went into roost. A spectacle that still needs me to pick my jaw up off the ground after the birds have gone to bed. Anyone that knows me will know I can get a little over excited and distracted when it comes to birds and wildlife and get so pent up with excitement, adrenaline and anxiety – often all at the same time! Luckily I’ve learnt to channel these emotions by campaigning for change and action. Fast-forward another four years and I’m sat with the Lush campaigns team (which is where I spend a percentage of my work time) and we’re discussing campaign ideas. For some people (including me prior to working for them) it may come as a surprise just how strong Lush are as a campaigning organisation, fighting hard for human rights, animal welfare and environmental injustice. When it was announced in 2014 that only four pairs of hen harrier had successfully bred in England we felt compelled to get involved to try and help promote the issue to our customers. A campaign was set up through all our UK Lush shops, where we provided a website for people to get all the info they needed about this illegal activity, as well as a politely worded postcard for people to sign….destination Buckingham Palace. Over the course of the month more than 20,000 Lush customers signed postcards and added their voice to our plea for the illegal killing to stop. This was ‘high street conservation’ at its very best and we even got to take a trip up to Buckingham Palace to hand over the signed postcards. Surprisingly they didn’t open the main front gates for us and welcome us through with a horned fan fair, rather they let us in through the small side gate along Buckingham Palace Road, you know…the entrance where they deliver the fish. Still, our and the public’s message was clear and we all kept our fingers crossed and our breath held. One year on and what had changed? Well, not a lot to be honest. There was a slight rise in Hen Harrier breeding success from four to six pairs, but at the same time five adult males had ‘disappeared’ from active nests during the breeding season and it seemed we were back to square one. It also seemed the obvious approach was to work with and help the RSPB with their Hen Harrier Life+ project by raising enough money to try and satellite tag as many Hen Harrier chicks as possible over the coming years. OVER TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC… In July 2015 (and with less than a week’s notice), the Lush manufacturing team designed and built a prototype bath bomb in the shape of a male hen harrier against a setting sun, which looked and smelt incredible. Admittedly, the prototype was about the size of a dinner plate, so after a quick re-design and tweak, our product was ready and we were now almost ready to throw the challenge over to the public to start raising money for hen harrier conservation. There was one small problem, we didn’t have a name for our Sicilian lemon and liquorice masterpiece, so over to Chris Packham to come up with a name….”Skydancer – Far from the Madding Guns”. Skydancer went on sale in early August 2015 and here we are only seven months later having now raised £100,000 for hen harriers thanks to the wonderful support of our Lush customers. We’re over the moon with this result, and can’t thank everyone enough for their contribution towards this campaign. So to finish off, do I think we’ll see a rise in breeding hen harriers over the coming five, ten, fifteen years? Well, yes I do. Not just because I’m a hopeless optimist but because I also believe in the power of people. Right across the country there are people fighting for this cause and all it needs is a little co-ordination, lateral thinking and dogged determination to fight for our environment and its hen harriers now and in years to come. …… The LIFE Project would also like to thank the Lush staff involved in running an awareness-raising event with local RSPB staff at the Aberdeen store on 20th and 21st February where another 88 bath bombs were sold, proceeds of which have gone to the cause.

Continue Reading » Blog Post: Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent...

March 14th, 2016

Bea Ayling

Blog Post: Countryfile Conservation Success of the Year: the hen harrier

As some of you may be aware, the hen harrier was awarded Countryfile’s Conservation Success of the Year last month: http://www.countryfile.com/explore-countryside/places/wildlife-success-story-year-201516 Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC) received the award on behalf of the species for their hard work raising awareness of the birds’ plight at their conference in Bristol last weekend. Here is a photo of the guys from Birders Against Wildlife Crime (from left to right: Charlie Moores, Lawrie Phipps and Phil Walton) with the award. Photo credit: Guy Shorrock

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