Bleasdale video footage finally released

Peregrine persecution on a grouse moor: Bleasdale video footage finally released

In April this year, a high profile prosecution case for alleged raptor persecution collapsed after covertly-filmed video evidence was deemed inadmissible.
The prosecution was being brought against a gamekeeper from the Bleasdale Estate in Bowland, who had been charged with a string of wildlife offences including the alleged killing of two peregrines in April 2016.
We had followed this case since September 2017, attended each court hearing, and blogged in detail after the case collapsed on a series of technicalities earlier this year (e.g. see here, here, here, here).
The details, as described in court, of what had happened to those two peregrines, were horrific. It was alleged that the adult female peregrine had been shot whilst leaving her nest and the adult male had been caught by the leg in a spring trap that had been set on the nest ledge, where he struggled to escape, in vain, for over ten hours, before being shoved in a bag by an unidentified man and removed from the site. Watch the video here but beware, it contains graphic content.

We’ve been waiting for the RSPB to publish this video footage ever since the case collapsed and the accused walked free. We understand there have been some legal issues about publishing the video and although we don’t know the details, it’s probably a safe bet to guess that some influential people from the grouse shooting industry have probably been working hard to ensure this footage never sees the light of day.
Today the RSPB has released video footage of peregrine persecution in Bowland and although the Bleasdale Estate is carefully not mentioned, it’s quite obvious from the dates cited and the video images that what is being shown in this footage fits the description of what allegedly happened to those two Bleasdale peregrines as desribed to the court earlier this spring.
The RSPB has published a blog describing the circumstances of this footage (here).
Watch the video here but beware, it contains graphic content.
After you’ve watched it, think about why nobody has been successfully prosecuted for these crimes.
And then think about why nobody will ever be prosecuted for these crimes.
And then think about why these crimes continue to be committed on grouse moors in 21st Century Britain.
And then think about what you can do to help bring it to an end.
Change must come, but it will only come if people stand up and demand it.
See you at a Hen Harrier Day event this weekend.
UPDATE 10 August 2018: Moorland Association’s response to peregrine persecution on Bleasdale grouse moor (here)

Mark Avery on Forest of Bowland AONB Consultation


Please respond to Forest of Bowland AONB consultation

The Forest of Bowland AONB is consulting on its next 5-year plan for 2019-24.  They would like your views by a week today, 25 May.  It’s easy to fill in the short consultation form – takes about 5 minutes.
Have a look at their last plan with its images of Hen Harriers and talk of natural beauty and how that means a lot more than just landscape – click here.
There are very few questions, and most of them are a choice of boxes to tick, but questions 3 and 5 allow free text.  Here are my responses to those questions.
Q3: Hen Harriers – though their numbers are dramatically depleted. This is, as your previous management plan states, ‘the iconic bird of prey of the area’ and yet in the timescale of your previous plan this species has often failed to nest in Bowland. This is, as you know well, your chosen logo – and yet you sit idly by and do nothing for it.  Other National Parks and AONBs have spoken out against raptor persecution in their areas and yet you remain eerily quiet on the subject – it’s almost as though you don’t care. And it’s almost as though you condone what is happening under your noses. That can’t be true surely?

Q5:
Moorland management: management of large areas of Bowland for game shooting is a problem not an asset. Have you noticed how the roads, particularly around Abbeystead in my experience, are littered with released non-native Pheasants which are a road hazard and which in late summer carpet the road with their squashed remains? How is the release of such large numbers of these birds an asset to the natural beauty of the area? There is evidence that Pheasants may contribute to reptile declines (snakes and lizards) – what evidence do you have on the health of Adder and Common Lizard populations in Bowland? A subject on which you could facilitate research?
Bowland is a notorious hotspot for wildlife crimes against protected birds of prey. Your logo is practically extinct in your AONB whereas 30 years ago there were over 20 nesting female Hen Harriers. You cannot sit idly by any longer. Why is the AONB not active in finding solutions to these issues? Why are you not recruiting volunteer rangers to identify wildlife crimes and report them to the police? Why are you not highlighting wildlife crime in your consultation? Why are you not organising local meetings to highlight the problems and seek the public’s help in finding solutions? Why aren’t you doing more? You could facilitate a lot of action but you appear to be complacent and inert over the massive elephant in the room – your AONB is losing its natural beauty because of criminal action by a few.
Visitor experience and information: my visitor experience would be greatly improved by seeing Peregrine Falcons and Hen Harriers in your (my! our!) AONB. What are you going to do to facilitate this?
What plans do you have to change your logo to a dead raptor if things continue as they have done in recent years?

Justice for Hen Harriers! #justice4henharriers


Mark Avery
I'm an author and environmental campaigner. One of my passions is ending the illegal persecution of a wonderful bird called the Hen Harrier.



We've reached our funding target
March 2, 2018
We did it - together!  Over 900 of us have raised the money needed to mount our judicial review against Natural England.
And it took four and a half days.  You are amazing!
The speed with which the total was reached just shows how strongly people feel about this issue. We are doing our bit to get #justice4henharriers.
Thank you - that's all I can say. THANK YOU!
Read More >>
I'm one of a group of like-minded campaigners seeking a better deal for threatened wildlife. We need your support to challenge the government to do more, and do the right things, for a persecuted bird, the Hen Harrier.
Hen Harriers are wonderful birds which are in danger of disappearing from England. The reason is simple: illegal persecution on grouse moors (because they eat Red Grouse that people want to shoot for fun). Cracking down on this wildlife crime is the key to giving the Hen Harrier a better future, but the Westminster government is doing far too little about that.
Instead of tackling the key issue of criminality, Michael Gove's Department for the Environment (DEFRA) has proposed something called 'brood management' which involves removing chicks from nests near grouse moors. That might help grouse moor owners but it won't help Hen Harriers.  See this article in The Guardian, and this blog for more details. It's a bizarre proposal and I believe it is illegal because alternative sensible and effective actions are available.
So I'm initiating a judicial review of Natural England's decision to issue a licence enabling brood management to go ahead.
Persecuted wildlife can't hire lawyers so we must do it for them and I've got some great lawyers together to fight for the Hen Harrier - they are really keen to get justice for this bird (and have been captivated by this video of the male Hen Harrier's skydancing display).  But I need your help to pay the court costs, the costs if we lose (nothing is certain) and at least some of our lawyers' costs (they have kindly agreed to work at heavily discounted rates).  The first stage is to raise £5000 to start the process rolling but we need to raise another £20,000 to see this through to the end.  Please help start things off by donating today - right now please, if you can.
Hen Harriers need justice - you can help them get it.

I'll give regular updates on how things are going - here and on my blog Standing up for Nature. If we raise more money than is needed, the additional funds will be held for up to a year and spent on other legal work to benefit Hen Harriers or other environmental causes.  Thank you.

New initiative to target the raptor killers in North Yorkshire

How about this for proper, proactive, genuine partnership working to tackle illegal raptor killing in North Yorkshire, one of the UK’s most prolific raptor persecution hotspots.
This is really encouraging. There’s no obsfuscation here, just a clear acknowledgement that raptors are still being illegally killed in North Yorkshire and an equally clear intention from all the project partners that this will no longer will be tolerated.
Well done North Yorkshire Police, RSPB, RSPCA, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and North York Moors National Park Authority.
Press release from North Yorkshire Police, 17 February 2018:
It’s “talons out” for raptor persecutors as North Yorkshire Police launches Operation Owl
Police are urging visitors to North Yorkshire’s countryside to get involved with Operation Owl – a new initiative to reduce the number of illegal attacks on birds of prey in the county.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless birds of prey (raptors) are still shot, poisoned and trapped – especially in areas where the land is managed for driven grouse shooting.
North Yorkshire has more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England – a situation that North Yorkshire Police is determined to tackle.
Launching on 17 February, Operation Owl is a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the RSPCA, together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.

As part of the Operation, police will carry out surveillance checks on known raptor persecution hot-spots at random times to disrupt offender activity, and work with local landowners to make them aware of the legal position on raptor persecution. National Park volunteers will be trained to spot poisoned bait and illegal traps across the parks and the police are also calling on the public to be the eyes and ears of the police when out in the countryside.
North Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable, Dave Jones, is the national lead on wildlife and rural crime, and the Force has what is believed to be the largest dedicated rural taskforce in the country.
Sergeant Kevin Kelly is part of that rural taskforce.  He said:
Our wonderful countryside is host to many specially-protected birds of prey such as peregrine falcons, red kites, buzzards and owls.  It is absolutely unacceptable that people think they can ignore the law and subject these birds to poisonings, shootings, nest destruction and the illegal use of spring traps without consequence. We will be doing everything in our power to catch these offenders, supported by our colleagues in the RSPB and the volunteers in the national parks. But the area is huge, so the more eyes and ears we have on the ground the better. That’s why we’re asking the public to help.”
In particular, the police are asking the public to spot pole traps.  Sergeant Kelly explained:
Trappers are using spring-loaded traps on top of posts to capture birds of prey that land on top of the post. The bird can struggle for many hours before the trapper returns to kill them. These pole traps, as they are called, are illegal. We want the public to help us find these traps. We’re advising that anyone who sees a pole trap should “spring” it if they can do so safely, note the location, take a photo, and call the police on 101 to report it. Our wildlife officers will take it from there.”
Operation Owl will run for the next year, and North Yorkshire Police is hoping that the initiative will become a blueprint for other Forces where there is a high incidence of raptor persecution.
Said Sergeant Kelly:
Like other forms of rural crime, raptor persecution is not a problem that the police can tackle alone. We need everyone involved. The weather will soon start to improve and more people will head out to the countryside.  If everyone keeps their eyes open for illegal traps and poisoned bait, it will be a massive boost to our surveillance operation. This is a real opportunity to reduce the number of wild birds that suffer and die unnecessarily, and send a clear message to offenders that we will not tolerate this crime in our countryside.”
Commenting on Operation Owl, Guy Shorrock, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, said:
The landscape of North Yorkshire attracts huge numbers of visitors every year. Unfortunately, it also has a terrible history for the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. We are proud to support North Yorkshire Police with this initiative and would ask people to report any concerns to them. If people want to speak in confidence about raptor persecution they can contact us on 0300 9990101“.
Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority, said:
Raptors are beautiful. They are an essential part of our National Parks, but their numbers have been diminished over many years by persecution from shooting interests. We urge everyone to help prevent illegal persecution and welcome Operation Owl, which the National Park Authority is actively supporting.”
David Butterworth, CEO of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said:
The monitoring data, the number of confirmed persecution incidents and the absence of some species from large areas of potentially suitable habitat provide compelling evidence for an uncomfortable conclusion:  illegal persecution is limiting the populations of some species of birds of prey in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  I’d like to appeal to the public to join in Operation Owl to help bring about the changes in attitudes that are so urgently needed.  Only through collective action can the persecution be stopped.
ENDS
The partners have released a short video to help members of the public to recognise some common signs that raptor persecution is taking place:

Backsbottom Farm 2017-11-15 10:33:00

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

Reviewed by Peter Reason
When our postman handed me the package that contained my review copy of The Lost Words I blurted out, ‘I’ve been waiting for this!’ In the weeks before its delivery I had read hugely appreciative reviews in the national press and on line. The book has benefited from a major marketing campaign from the publishers, aimed firmly at the Christmas market, and attracted much attention. So while delighted to get my copy I was also a bit anxious: would I like it or was it over-hyped? Would I find anything to write about it that has not already been written?
I took the book to my favourite armchair and slowly turned the pages, first taking in Jackie Morris’s illustrations, then reading Macfarlane’s  ‘spells’. After a little while I realized that all the time I had a smile on my face, and I found myself muttering to myself, ‘This is very well done indeed!’  The Lost Words delivers everything it promises.
The story behind the book has been well rehearsed. In 2007, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. Many words describing the natural world had been omitted while words from the ‘technosphere’ such as ‘broadband’ were included in their place. A group of well-known children’s authors wrote an open letter in protest. In parallel, concerns have been raised in recent years about ‘nature deficit’, the fact that children were no longer allowed to roam around in parks, commons and wild places on their own, no longer building dens, collecting tadpoles, unable to name common wildflowers. Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods has attracted much attention; naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, among others, has joined the call for children to get back into the natural world, showing its importance in his own engaging memoir Fingers in the Sparkle Jar. It was Jackie Morris who first had the idea of a book illustrating these lost words—she conceived of it as a ‘wild dictionary’. She asked Robert Macfarlane if he would write an introduction and this more ambitious project grew from there.
If words are being lost, if we cannot name our world, can we actually experience it? Is not language important in perceiving, even conjuring up our world?  If the names are lost, will we care when the beings evoked are also lost? As I write this, I learn that the population of flying insects has dropped by some 75% over the past 25 years, yet another indication that we living in a time of the Sixth Great Extinction of species in the history of Earth, this time caused by human impact. How come we collectively pay so little attention to this destruction, this ‘great thinning’, as journalist Michael McCarthy so aptly calls it? Are we all asleep?
The Lost Words is offered to wake us from our collective nature deficit, to reclaim words and celebrate a world that seems to be slipping away from us. The Introduction tells us, ‘You hold in your hands a spell book for conjuring back these lost words… [to] unfold dreams and songs, and summon lost words back into the mouth and the mind’s eye’. As Macfarlane points in the Guardian Review, just as Ged, the magician hero of Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy, has to learn the true names of beings in the Old Speech of dragons and gods if he is to work his spells, we too must relearn the magic of words.
The book starts with Acorn and moves through the alphabet to Wren (although some letters are omitted and others repeated). Each word is represented in three spreads: the first marking loss or slipping away, where the letters that make the word are scattered across the page; the second containing the summoning spell; and the third being a rich illustration celebrating the word in its wider context. The spells are evocative, as one would expect from Robert Macfarlane; the illustrations gorgeous, from the experienced hand of Jackie Morris, who lives up to the tradition of great nature illustrators, including Arthur Rackham, currently celebrated in the Victoria and Albert exhibition Into the Woods. Author and illustrator have worked closely together to conceive and realize an integration of words and images that is an artwork in its own right.
This is a wonderful book to offer to a child at Christmas or birthday; or on no occasion at all, just for the sake of giving a gift that is beautiful as well as educational.
But this is not just a book for children. It addresses the challenge of how ‘nature writing’ in its broadest sense can reach a wide audience and address the ecological calamity of our times. How do we encompass the loss of other beings in the community of life on earth; and even more the disturbance of the great cycles of the atmosphere, the oceans, even of the rocks, that are destabilizing our planet?  How do we write about nature when day after day we learn of some new way in which the human—mainly Western—fingerprint is to found everywhere; when in many ways we can no longer distinguish between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’? How do we all, adults as well as children, re-enchant our damaged planet?
Macfarlane has always been a literary writer. He goes on his travels accompanied by the writers and poets he knows and loves, notably by Edward Thomas in The Old Ways. He has written elsewhere about the importance of language in appreciation of our world; his Twitter feed features an uncommon ‘word for the day’ that has proved popular and stimulating. In earlier works he shows how the reclamation of words and stories helped save the Brindled Moor on Lewis in the early years of the present century from the construction of a massive wind farm. The energy company claimed that the moor was a barren place, a wasteland, certainly disenchanted; and indeed so it might appear to an outsider. But local people strongly opposed the proposal and devised ways to re-story the moor, to reclaim and re-enchant it in ‘narrative, poetic, lyric, painterly, photographic, historical, cartographical’ forms. What was required, one protagonist argued, was a Counter-Desecration Phrasebook that would help both name the landscape and the community’s relationship to it. The Brindled Moor was saved, at least for the moment. (It is also interesting to note that the speed of development of wind generation technology suggests that a windfarm built in the first decade of this century would be obsolescent toward the end of the second decade; while the moor would be ruined forever.) Words are not just nice for children, they have practical and political consequences.
Some ‘nature writers’ are birders and old style naturalists, some of whom study one creature or ecosystem for a lifetime; others are journalists and broadcasters, photographers and filmmakers, travelers and eco-philosophers. In pursing this link between language, our literary heritage and the natural world, Macfarlane is making his particular contribution, complementing other contributors to this broad field.
In this collaboration, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris have drawn together words and images to create a book of spells that promises to evoke a sense of wonder in us all. As Macfarlane tells us, ‘wonder is an essential survival skill for the Anthropocene’.

Raptor Persecution…….again……

Bowland: Crimes Against Nature

We have all heard of the expression ‘to turn a blind eye’, meaning to pretend that a particular act or occurrence has gone unnoticed and unregistered, to ignore something or even to neglect it. I am sure there have been times in most people’s lives where they have ‘turned a blind eye’ to something. Though (hopefully!) these incidents have been rather minor ones, incidents like pretending you did not see your little brother smash your mum’s vase, or ignoring the fact that your dog just ate your favourite pair of shoes. They are incidents that are minor irritations, but they are not ones that will not have a greater impact on our lives and not generally things of huge importance. They are not for example, ones that could impact the natural world, the ecosystem, or to be more specific, the protection of our birds of prey.
raptorpolitics.org.uk
raptorpolitics.org.uk
Raptors. Possibly the longest suffering of our surviving wildlife in the UK and when it comes to persecution of these species, you could say the UK has become something of an expert at turning a blind eye. Our shores are home to so many examples of raptor persecution that we would be spoilt for choice for incidents to discuss. In this case however, we are talking of a very particular incident. One that screams the serious neglect of our raptors. So, where in the UK are we? Lancashire. The home of the Red Rose, Victoria Wood, Ian McKellen and, of course, The Forest of Bowland. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covered in vast and diverse habitats including fells, valleys and peat moorland, a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds of prey, and a haven for some of our most spectacular raptor species, including the Hen Harrier and the Peregrine Falcon! Or at least, it should. Over recent years however, a black cloud has descended over The Forest of Bowland. A black cloud that has brought with it the wide-scale, relentless persecution of birds of prey. The situation has now become so serious in Bowland that the region is what some people (the term originating with gamekeepers) call a ‘Raptor Free Zone’. The fact that such a ‘zone’ should exist in an area where these beautiful birds are native is not only a tragedy, but a total and utter embarrassment to our nation.
raptorpolitics.org.uk
raptorpolitics.org.uk
The Peregrine Falcon, is a spectacularly agile, wickedly fast and beautiful bird of prey, who can usually be found in areas of upland moorland during the breeding season. Nowadays however, there are more breeding pairs existing in London than across all the moorland in northern England. Moorland where red grouse shooting serves as the main upland land use. Seven years ago the story was very different, Peregrine Falcons were thriving throughout Bowland and there were at least 18 occupied Peregrine territories, with approximately 11 successful nesting pairs in most seasons. However, something changed in 2010, as the number of breeding Peregrine pairs in Bowland began to decline dramatically and many territories were left abandoned. Coincidentally (hmmm), 2010 was also the year when Natural England instructed the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to revoke Schedule 1 disturbance licenses held by members of the The North West Raptor Group, who have monitored and protected raptors in the Forest of Bowland since 1974. Why? It was claimed that there was a concern that these raptor protection specialists would ‘disturb’ the birds and duplicate nest visits, threatening their chances of breeding successfully. However, somewhat bizarrely, they continued to grant the group raptor licenses for use outside of Bowland, including licenses to monitor Golden Eagles in Western Scotland. With no seemingly legitimate reasons provided for this removal of licenses, such a decision could be seen as something highly suspicious. Perhaps they did not want this monitoring to continue? Perhaps they have something to hide? Or even somebody’s interests to protect? Certainly not the interests of our raptors it would seem, especially when we remember that it was also Natural England who last year granted licenses to gamekeepers allowing them to shoot Buzzards, so that pheasant stocks could be protected, with little (if any) justification for such a decision. Since Natural England took the decision to revoke disturbance licenses held by members of the NWRPG, 16 breeding Peregrine nesting territories now lie abandoned in Bowland. In addition, 7 pairs of breeding Hen Harrier, the symbol of The Forest of Bowland and a species on the brink of extinction in England, have also been lost from the area. But perhaps those of us who question these decisions and their outcomes are just being too cynical? Jumping to irrational conclusions even? Unfortunately however, for those of us involved in raptor protection, cynicism has become somewhat ingrained within us, not because we wish it, but purely because we have been given too many reasons to think in such a way.
raptorpolitics.org.uk
raptorpolitics.org.uk
It’s curious. Very curious. So what is going on? How could 99% of Peregrine Falcon territories possibly have been found abandoned throughout the Forest of Bowland since 2010? Flooding? Disease? A plague of locusts? I think we have all guessed what could have caused such a devastating collapse of a local population. Persecution. Why? The same old reason: to boost Red Grouse stocks (because they are suffering terribly). In Bowland, it seems as if there is a constant and unrelenting witch hunt being carried out against birds of prey, the Peregrine and Hen Harrier in particular, as well as against those individuals who have dedicated their lives to protecting these birds. Nesting sites have been destroyed, eggs have been taken, chicks have disappeared, and 16 adult pairs of Peregrine Falcon have been lost from these now abandoned territories. But these losses are no secret, nor a revelation. This is no MI5 operation that must be kept from everyone except the powers that be, for ‘the greater good’. This is known about by many, but so far, the pleas and protection efforts exhibited by those members of the North West Raptor Protection Group have fallen on deaf ears. Or perhaps just unwilling and uninterested ears.
Sadly, the situation is not improving, if anything, it continues to deteriorate. An example of this took place not so long ago when a water metering system was installed in a stream bed on moorland owned by United Utilities. Although this in itself may not sound like an issue, it was not the installation of the system that caused the problem, but rather the location of the system. Where was this? Shockingly, right next to an area which has been identified and used as a Peregrine nesting site for many years. Unfortunately, this was no isolated incident as 100 metres directly opposite from the same peregrine nesting ledge, a gamekeeper had installed a crow trap overlooking the nest site. Strange, is it not, that highly trained and experienced members of a raptor study group would be denied licenses to protect these birds in case they should ‘disturb them’, yet a water metering system (which would regularly be checked) and a gamekeeper’s crow trap (also regularly checked) should be conveniently installed right across from a historic peregrine nesting site! Surely, anyone possessing even the slightest ounce of common sense would see that this would cause great disturbance if Peregrines returned to breed at this site in the future! But it does not stop there. In many areas, almost right on top of other Peregrine sites throughout Bowland, vermin traps (designed to catch weasels, stoats and a variety of corvids) have been installed alongside or close to abandoned nesting sites, which again, must be checked on a regular basis by the gamekeeper. Can this really just be passed off as innocent or unaware disturbance to sites, or is this blatant and unabashed intrusion to prevent breeding taking place? So how can this be allowed? Naivety? Sheer incompetence? Or worse? Are these planned strategies to prevent any prospecting Peregrine from settling down to breed? With a fresh dose of that cynicism, I am going to fall (rather dramatically) in the direction of the latter.
raptorpolitics.org.uk
raptorpolitics.org.uk
To document every single outrageous and fundamentally unfair event that has occurred within the Forest of Bowland over recent years would be a bit like me trying to document every single significant act of the World Wars in one (reasonably sized) article. It would be impossible. Unfortunately for our raptors, this is their own version of War. War against the Red Grouse shooting industry and those who are willing to stop at nothing (even the law) to boost their grouse populations and consequently their profits. Sadly, the Red Grouse industry will always have one thing behind it that gives it the upper hand, no matter how immoral. Money. Money makes the world go round it would seem, even when it comes at the cost of losing some of our most precious and threatened raptor species. And what of Natural England’s position in this rather dirty game of politics? It seems that by denying licenses preventing a dedicated raptor group from protecting threatened birds in the Forest of Bowland, they are providing support to estates owners and their gamekeepers. Such a decision, which has possibly been approved at the highest level, indicates that they are almost allowing raptors to be destroyed with impunity in Bowland. They are, quite simply, turning a blind eye.
Raptors have been shot, trapped, disappeared and driven from the Forest of Bowland and this trend is forever continuing and increasing. The situation in Bowland is nothing short of dire, with raptors and those who work for them constantly fighting what currently seems like a losing battle. In 2017 it would still seem that the care we have for our environment and our wildlife and ecosystems has not come far at all, with those who commit crimes against our natural world escaping unscathed and with nothing but a slap on the wrist (if that). If something does not change and change soon, these beautiful birds that we have the privilege to see in our country will disappear into nothingness. Disappear into a silent, desolate moorland, where no life but that of the Red Grouse will continue to flourish.
It’s dire, it’s depressing, but it is fact. However, we remain defiant and determined, and although the persecutors of our birds of prey may be winning this battle, we refuse to let them win this war.
For more information on what is happening in Bowland follow the link below:
Forest of Bowland Raptors Being Undermined by Complacency and Bad Politics
3,951 total views, 3 views today

Statement on Persecution of Birds of Prey

copyright F.of B.

7th November 2017
The Forest of Bowland AONB is an important area for the birds of prey that we associate with the English uplands, such as hen harrier, peregrine, merlin and short-eared owls.  However, the RSPB Birdcrime Report 2016 published last week highlights how some of these iconic species continue to be the subject of illegal acts of persecution throughout much of England and particularly the northern uplands.
The Chair of the Forest of Bowland AONB Joint Advisory Committee, County Councillor Albert Atkinson stated:
"It is particularly concerning to the Committee that these acts of illegal persecution continue; badly affecting the populations of birds of prey that are synonymous with the Forest of Bowland. These acts undoubtedly have an impact on the reputation of Bowland as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.   The Committee unreservedly condemns all illegal persecution of birds of prey.  The AONB will continue to work closely with landowners, the police, RSPB and Natural England to help protect and conserve birds of prey across the area."
If you wish to report any crimes against wild birds, we would suggest contacting the police by calling 101.

Farmers Workshop on Natural Flood Management

19 Oct 2017
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Guided walk around demonstration area on farm
Natural Flood Management Farmers meeting on 19th October 2017 visited the slow the flow demonstration on Backsbottom Farm to see check dams, swales and blanket bog restoration and discussed mob grazing and keyline subsoiling. Early in the day we had brief presentations from Lune Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, Natural England and the Abbeystead Estate. It was a morning of lively discussion with 20 participants. Thanks to Sandra Silk from the Forest of Bowland AONB for organising this.

Slow The Flow:
       Check Dams and In River Training Demonstration area

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Roeburn Remembering Restoring Festival

   
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                                Let us know if you are coming
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Poster by Eller Everett
River Roeburn
Remembering and Restoring Festival
Sat 12th -Sun 13th August 2017
Backsbottom Farm, Roeburndale West,
Nr. Wray, Lancaster La2 9ll

This Free Festival will celebrate and remember 50 years since the Wray flood on 8th August 1967
and will help to engage the local community and general public about the issues around flooding and water management.


Events will include:
  • Historical exhibition of the River Roeburn and events of flooding, landslips and other river changes over the years including Wray Flood and Flood Desmond. In Rural Classroom in the farmyard.  The Wray flood exhibition will be open over the weekend.
  • Rivers Healing Circle to bring together waters from rivers in UK and abroad and their stories (Sunday midday)
  • Photographic competition of photos of rivers or streams in the Lune catchment (especially the Rivers Wenning, Hindburn and Roeburn). In Rural classroom in the farmyard
  • River paintings by Janet Robinson and Hilary Devereaux in Middle Wood Centre
  • Natural Land sculpture workshops. Resident environmental artists Richard Shilling and Julia Chick will be making natural art sculptures from materials gathered nearby in particular locations by the river throughout the festival weekend. Look out for the signs and join them to see what they have been making, learn how to make natural sculptures yourself and spend some quality time next to the enigmatic River Roeburn. All weekend.
  • Search for fossils amongst the river stones
  • Walks to see erosion sites, landslips and ongoing damage from the flash flooding of the River Roeburn. Follow map.
  • Display of Slow the Flow techniques - woody check dams, stone check dams, in river training with careful placement of boulders, wool and bale dams that could be used for reducing peat erosion, blanket bog restoration and the use of mob grazing to increase the infiltration of rain by improving the soil structure. Details from Car park with map follow the mown path.
  • Film showings from other Slow the flow projects. In Yurt near study Centre.
  • Neighbourhood flood plans
  • Large aerial photo of the Rivers Roeburn and Hindburn to help record memories and encourage community engagement. Near Study Centre.
  • River flow experimental area to play with different structures and see how they affect water flow
  • Display by Lune Rivers Trust and River Fly Monitoring (Sunday)
  • N'Dodo - A brillant dancable local band from 3pm Sat
  • Local musicians performing near the river and in the woodlands
  • Quercus, Sian Philips, Paul, Wal and Ruth and friends - Great acoustic music. Sat evening.
  • Two local choirs Lune Valley Voices Sat 7.30 and Wenning Voices Sun 2pm.
  • Dance performance with Dawn Morgan and friends
  • River inspired poetry workshop with Eli Denvir from 11am Sun 
  • Local poetry inspired by the river
  • Sharing of food brought by festival visitors. Picnic by river on Sunday.
  • Beautiful Roeburndale Woodlands and organic orchards
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Natural Land sculpture workshops. (Sat and Sun)
"Resident environmental artists Richard Shilling and Julia Chick will be making natural art sculptures from materials gathered nearby in particular locations by the river throughout the festival weekend. Look out for the signs and join them to see what they have been making, learn how to make natural sculptures yourself and send some quality time next to the enigmatic River Roeburn."


                               Richard Shilling Land Art
                                      All weekend
Lune Valley Voices                                               N'Dodo
Sat 7.45                                                               3pm Sat
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River Poetry Workshop with Ellie Denvir down by the river. (Sunday from 11am). Gathering words and sounds from our experiences with the river, we will explore relationships and feelings between ourselves, the land and the river, making a collective poem to follow the course of the Roeburn from the fells to the Wenning.  There will be the chance to create individual poems  and join with musicians to perform our work (Sun afternoon).

The invisible river flows through the endless night

Cold stone and loneliness
Deer bark in the woods
Sleeping birds are startled


I sit on a mossy rock and become the stars.
By Paul Michael Fergus Wiggin

Ode to the Roeburn

Your pleasant glades and babbling course helped shape my early life
Our courses set without regret seeing turbulence and strife


You calmly flow but most don’t know the gift that you have been
With twists and turns forgotten like the things that we have seen

Your harnessed strength brought riches once along your flowing course
But in just one day unfettered you showed your might and force

We all forgive what you once did as you raged without control
But will you forgive what we do now as we erode your very soul

I hoped one day I would return to see you again old friend
Your sustenance to life around I thought could never end

With grateful thanks for rewards bestowed to generations gone by
Let the children now protect you and never let you die.


Robert W Marshall
Childhood resident of Wray




Slow The Flow - Check Dams and In River Training
Demonstration area will be on display over the weekend
Follow signs and mowed path from car park.
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Have you been affected by flooding, or had wonderful experiences of a special river?

Come to our

RIVERS SHARING CIRCLE

13 August 12 noon Backsbottom Farm, Roeburndale West,
Nr Lancaster.

By River Roeburn
Shared Jacobs Join picnic Sun
followed by Wenning Voices 2pm Sun
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Poster by Leah Hampson

Photographic competition of photos of rivers or streams in the Lune catchment (especially the Rivers Wenning, Hindburn and Roeburn). Catch that place you love on the river, or that moment with a special light reflection.
Either bring your photos with a completed Entry form to the rural classroom in Backsbottom farmyard on Friday 11 August, or send by post to arrive by then.
Entry £1 per photo.
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Festival Site Map
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Poster by Eller Everett
Camping for Festival is limited to 20 tents so please complete booking form and get confirmation that there is space. Camping will be in field over the wall from the car park. Cost £10 per tent per night.
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OTHER LINKED EVENTS
Wray Flood

Memories & Impacts
On Tuesday 8th August 2017 it will be 50 years since the Wray flood, when 14 homes were either destroyed by a wall of water coming down the river, or so severely damaged they had to be demolished. On this date the village are holding a commemorative exhibition in Wray Institute, from 10am to 8pm. Photographs, newspaper reports, documents and recordings will be on view (many relating to Hornby and Claughton too), and Wray school children’s flood impressions will be shown as well. Please drop in and pay us a visit.This will also be open over the weekend for you to visit as part of the Festival.

Lune Valley Movement Space 
http://shapeshift.co.uk/workshops/lunevalley.html
Includes Water Dance 6-10 August
here to edit.

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Find the event here on Facebook to let us know your coming and share it with your friends.
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Mobile Chicken House

This mobile chicken house means that the field doesn't get muddy and eroded and the grass still grows. The chickens are off the ground from predators in their hut, the wire can have left over food put on to it without attracting rodents and the whole thing can be moved by tractor so food remnants will fertilise the ground.There's also no need to go out at night to lock up the chickens as they have a predator proof ladder!
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Mulching the Garden

We're lucky to have had Caroline and Charlie ,our fantastic French volunteers, to help in the garden. Here they are mulching the Keder polytunnel and greenhouse with compost made from rotted down bracken. Our vegetable polyculture beds are a mixture of the no dig and hugel methods. No dig is particularly beneficial for the soil as the earthworms do the digging when the mulch is put on top and there is little disturbance to micro-organisms.
Caroline filling wheelbarrow loads of compost

Charlie in the Keder greenhouse

pulling out old nasturtiums which will go back into the compost heaps

Caroline piling on the compost

handfuls of compost go on top of the greenhouse beds

Slow the Flow – Check Dams on Fell

As part of the upland restoration work being undertaken by Rod these check dams are shown being put into ditches which in time will slow the flow of rain water down towards the river. Recent flooding around the country have shown that our uplands are severely depleted in water retention capacities. A healthy river needs healthy uplands which absorb water and slowly feed the rivers instead of fast runoff resulting in floods which damage the environment, towns and villages. Here are some photos showing Rod, and our lovely French volunteers Charlie and Caroline working with the various components like sheep wool, river rocks and rushes
river rocks being placed across a ditch--Charlie, Rod and Caroline

steady there they're getting heavier so hurry with that photo


the finished "wall" across the ditch


thank you Charlie and Caroline you did a great job

hay bales across a ditch also help to slow the flow

next check dam is made of old spoiled sheep wool

putting wool on top of a ditch

then covered with slabs of rushes

completely covered over with rushes which will grow ont op and create a good dam

this swale from 2015 is now enjoying some avian visitors and other pondlife

the young trees are beginning to look established and will help to retain water

left over wool will be used again
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Raptor Persecution in the Forest of Bowland


The North West Raptor Group are making an appeal to combat the illegal killing of Peregrine Falcons in Lancashire's Forest of Bowland, situated in the North West of England. Classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it covers 808 square Kilometers of rural Lancashire and North Yorkshire. The Forest of Bowland is internationally important for its upland bird populations and under the Habitats Directive "Bowland Fells" are designated a Special Protection Area for specific birds of prey. The Forest of Bowland may be an SPA, but raptors like Hen Harrier and Peregrine Falcon receive no protection. In 2009 - 25 Peregrine territories in the Forest of Bowland were examined by the NWRG. 17 sites were occupied, 6 nests failed following the loss of eggs, chicks and adult birds. A total of 11 territories produced 24 fledged young. In 2010 the Government’s Wildlife Adviser, Natural England, withdrew Peregrine licenses for use in the Forest of Bowland from members of the NWRG, following the group’s disclosure on social media of wide scale raptor persecution throughout this moorland region, where Red Grouse are shot. Other licenses issued to group members since 1974, covering additional raptor species including Peregrine for areas outside the Forest of Bowland remained unaffected. By 2016, 99% of Bowland Peregrine nesting territories were found abandoned. The loss of an entire regional population of Peregrines (18 pairs) from the Forest of Bowland is unprecedented. To protect these Peregrines, the NWRG need your help to purchase the following urgently needed kit: Go-Pro camera - 2 mountain bikes - radio transceivers & infra-red night vision goggles. Throughout the last 43 years members of the North West Raptor Group have self-funded their work. If the killing of Peregrines continues, they will be lost forever, not only from the Forest of Bowland but also from the rest of England's northern uplands, where Red Grouse are shot for sport. Read Latest Update

Crowdfunding appeal for new raptor satellite tag project © R.P.U.K.

The campaign group Birders Against Wildlife Crime has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help support a new project to fit satellite tags to raptors in northern England, set to begin later this year.
Satellite tagging has revolutionised efforts to detect raptor persecution crimes, and has also helped draw public attention to the illegal killing of raptors. The power of satellite-tagging was really first realised in 2009 when a young satellite-tagged golden eagle, ‘Alma’, was found dead on a grouse moor on the Millden Estate in the Angus Glens. She’d been poisoned. It’s highly unlikely her corpse would have been detected had she not been fitted with a satellite tag, which allowed investigators to pinpoint her body as she lay face down in a vast expanse of heather moorland. The resulting publicity about her death was phenomenal, and even though nobody was ever prosecuted, this crime turned the spotlight on to an industry that had escaped scrutiny for so long.
alma
Since Alma, there have been many other illegally-killed raptors, including golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, hen harriers, Montagu’s harriers and red kites whose satellite tags have given the game away. These days, the raptor killers are wise to the game and now it’s far more common for a sat-tagged bird to simply ‘disappear’, with all the evidence (carcass, sat tag) simply destroyed to avoid detection, although occasionally there won’t be a ‘clean kill’ and the wounded bird is able to move some distance before succumbing to its injuries and investigators are able to collect the corpse, conduct a post mortem and record it as a confirmed persecution crime.
Some within the grouse-shooting industry have recently been trying to discredit the use of raptor satellite tags, and it’s not hard to see why. They’ve slurred the professional reputations of highly experienced and licensed raptor researchers and have used some photographs of a young golden eagle with what appears to have a ‘slipped’ tag harness as evidence that the tagging experts don’t know what they’re doing. Now, of course, it’s possible for a sat tag harness to slip, and it does happen on occasion, but it’s a rare occurrence. What the accusers don’t mention is the circumstantial evidence that suggests tagged raptors are being caught inside crow cage traps, providing an opportunity for the trap operator to cut one of the harness straps before releasing the bird, with its tag now dangling and looking like it has been badly fitted. There is also evidence of at least one tagged hen harrier being trapped, its harness removed and transferred to a free-ranging corvid, presumably with the intention of disguising the fact the hen harrier was illegally killed.
Strangely, the grouse shooting industry has not tried to vilify the satellite tagging of non-raptor species, such as woodcock (GWCT project) or cuckoos (BTO project); it’s only the tagging of raptors they seem to object to. Can’t think why.
Here’s a photo (taken by Stephen Murphy) of Bowland Betty, a sat-tagged hen harrier found dead on a grouse moor on the Swinton Estate in Yorkshire in 2012. A post mortem revealed she had been shot.
bowland-betty-1
The new raptor satellite-tagging project in northern England is being undertaken by highly experienced and licensed experts in an independent research consortium (all voluntary – no salaries are being paid). The beauty of this independence is that sat tag data will be put in to the public domain very, very quickly. No more waiting for weeks/months/years to find out what happened, which will allow timely and targeted publicity every time one of these raptors ‘disappears’ or is found shot/trapped/poisoned. Greater public awareness of raptor persecution is key to bringing it to an end.
The crowdfunding target is to reach £10,000 by mid-March. It’s ambitious but it’s do-able. If you’d like to make a donation, however small or large, please visit BAWC’s crowdfunding page HERE
Thank you

RSPB getting tough? © Mark Avery

RSPB getting tough?

There are two recent RSPB blogs which are well worth a read – aren’t they all, always?
Martin Harper’s blog is pretty outspoken as these quotes will make clear (but please read it all):
  • it was a deeply frustrating debate – especially to the 123,000 that called for a ban and of course those seeking reform. Our initial reaction tried to pick out some positives, but that was a real challenge. Clearly there is widespread opposition from within the driven grouse shooting community to any real reform.
  • …if pressure for reform remains then the quality of the parliamentary debate will inevitably improve as people won’t be able to brazenly ignore the facts like some did on Monday.
  • When more crimes get into the public domain it will be harder for MPs to turn a blind eye.
  • …this week, we are raising awareness of the fate of the hen harrier Rowan, found dead in Cumbria in October, and which appears to have been shot. The fate of this bird graphically illustrates that illegal killing of hen harriers is ongoing, contrary to the impression given by some MPs in the Westminster Hall debate.
  • …we remain appalled by the environmental condition of the uplands and the ongoing illegal killing of birds of prey
Guy Shorrock says some interesting things on the Investigations blog too reflecting on 25 years at the RSPB and recent events:
  • Sitting at the debate, I already knew the nature of Rowan’s recent demise and wondered whether Thérèse Coffey, present as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was also aware. Against that, I listened with some disbelief at the nature of the debate that unfolded. To be frank, I wasn’t hopeful for a great deal to come out from the process. However, I thought at least this was an opportunity for some serious environmental concerns to be properly aired. Hopefully this would lead to a commitment from the government to at least look at options to tackle the pernicious problem of raptor persecution and a range of others environmental problems in our uplands.
  • At the end of the debate Therese Coffey read out a prepared statement that basically it would be business as usual. We know what has gone before is not working, so I simply don’t understand this response. With just three pairs of hen harriers breeding in England this year, just how bad do things have to get? I do wonder how history will look back on the quality of this debate and whether future society will judge us for failing to take meaningful action.
  • …despite raptor persecution becoming one of the government UK wildlife crime priorities in 2009, I have not seen any meaningful improvement in the levels of enforcement.
  • Compared with elsewhere in Europe and North America, game shooting in the UK is almost uniquely unregulated even though it is far more intensive in nature than almost anywhere else. To the best of my knowledge, no other industry in the UK has to rely on killing rare protected birds. Driven grouse moor management should be no different and simply has to adapt its business model to a more sustainable form of land management to conform to modern day conservation and the wishes of wider society.
  • Unless those in charge are held to account, I believe there is absolutely no chance of a significant change in some of the serious environmental problems associated with grouse moor management. Scotland has made some progress with the introduction of vicarious liability and this should be put in place across the rest of the UK as soon as possible.
  • As highlighted at Westminster Hall, it seems economics plays a very large part in this debate. However, the government do not appear to have done the sums to assess how the benefits from employment and income generation to local communities from grouse shooting compare with counteracting the cost of any environmental damage, loss of wildlife tourism opportunities or the huge sums of agricultural subsides paid into the uplands.
  • Whilst I will not be at the RSPB a quarter of a century from now, I would hope to still be here and to have witnessed a real change in the condition of our uplands and for the shame of raptor persecution to finally end. However, for these hopes to become a reality I believe this government needs to start taking take meaningful action now, and not just watch from the sidelines hoping it will all sort itself out.
I welcome these tougher statements and look forward to the RSPB taking a tougher stance on these issues. We’ll be chatting soon.