Autumnal reflection

Well the first thing to reflect on is the neglect for this blog…… I feel a bit guilty that my last blog was June 30th! So apologies but there has been a lot going on as I will explain below. 

The ringing/monitoring season has finished for another year and now we turn our attentions to maintaining links with landowners, meeting new ones, refurbishing nest boxes and writing reports. It has been a mixed year with the move back to Cheshire, but the Tawny owl nest box scheme has been good, we will start seeing data from the Little owl one next summer and trying to start an on going study of Cheshire Hobbies has been very productive but I will run a separate blog on all this once I’ve got the reports written. All that before the Golden Eagle stuff will start again in the new year, on the subject of Golden Eagles sadly the one nest that we located as active failed, on my return in June the nest was empty with fresh greenery growing through it so better luck next year. We did find signs of birds still on territory those as the below picture demonstrates.

Ash very happy with his Golden Eagle primary found under licence

The raptor ID day I ran for Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre went fantastically well and we will be running another one in May next year. I had a fantastic group, great facilities, stunning countryside and great views of wild Peregrine at the gorge, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Little Owl and signs of Barn owl and Tawny owl sighting and calling on the owl prowl. We will be aiming to run some more local ones next year and owl prowls over this winter so watch this space. 

Talking raptor persecution in a grouse butt

Nest box building workshop


Some of you may know that we also have a team of captive birds of prey that have been incredibly busy this year. It’s only a small team but they do a great job of educating young and old about birds of prey and their conservation. Things will be changing in the near future though with the captive birds being completely separated from Raptor Aid as an organisation but more on that at a later date. Exciting times ahead that’s all I can say! 

We are beginning to push on with contacts and conservation iniatives but it’s a slow process. We recently donated $250 to the Belize Raptor Foundation to sponsor a local participant in their raptor identification programme and we will hopefully have a separate blog post on how that went soon. We are also gathering in rucksacks here in the U.K. To send out to the Philippine Eagle Foundation to help their forest guards which support the foundations work in safeguarding the rainforest habitat the eagles need but also monitor the birds themselves. Take a look at the picture below to see the homemade bags they have to use now! We are planning a trip to the Philippines in December to see the great work of the foundation and then in the new year to help monitoring wild eagles. 

Fertiliser bag ruck sack PEF copyright

Vultures are still under increasing pressure around the world especially in Africa where poisoning is still proving to be a huge problem. A very recent case in Limpopo province saw 51 vulture dead along with two Lions and other species. The Lions had been butchered, their bones for medicinal purposes and the vultures heads removed for Muthi and the belief that their body parts can help in witchcraft. This is another area that interests Raptor Aid and the human cultural aspect in relation to these birds. We must also congratulate Charlie Hamilton James on his recent accolade of Photojournalist of the year award for his work on vultures globally, his images are both powerful and eye opening – well done Charlie on highlighting and raising the profile of this important group of birds. 

Vulture heads for Muthi in Africa copyright C. Hamilton James

In the U.K. the war on raptor persecution continues, again worthy of a separate blog post as so much has gone on from continued illegal persecution including satellite tagged Hen Harriers vanishing, Peregrines being shot and illegal pole traps being set. The petition to end driven grouse shooting which Raptor Aid supported reached 100,000 signature and Some and will now be debated in the commons at the end of the month. It might not bring a ban but at the very least it is really bringing in to the spot light the issues surrounding how British uplands are managed and the whole issue of illegal raptor persecution. On a positive note we are continuing to develop our new nest boxes for self assembly so anyone can buy one, build it themselves and offer a home to a British bird of prey. It is slow progress but we are hoping to have something to work with and roll out a build your own nest box scheme in the new year. 

The website needs a bit of a clean up and update so that is on the cards for the winter months but I have also just started a masters in Anthrozoology (human/non human relations) at Exeter University which is fascinating but after 12 years out of education is a massive shock to the system and brain. One of the reasons for this apart from personal development is because of the ever shifting change in people’s views of animals and their roles in our lives, Raptor Aid as an organisation going forward hopes to be at the forefront of human relationships with birds of prey whether it’s captive birds of prey, muthi trade, illegal persecution and the many other aspects where humans come into contact and conflict with birds of prey. We will be blogging separately on the various topics in due course probably beginning with the ever increasing issues facing birds of prey in captivity within the U.K.

Poor practice of captive birds of prey in Britain is increasing as seen in the above image

Many thanks for stopping by to read the blog and keep following we promise not to leave it so long for the next post.