• Be our eyes and ears this breeding season

    In 2020, the Welsh Government provided supportive funding for an investigative role in Wales, in an effort to monitor the extent of raptor persecution across the country and bring those responsible to justice. Niall Owen, our newly appointed Raptor Officer gives an overview of his work, what is to come, and how you can help in the fight against raptor persecution.


    Wales is known for its natural beauty, and we are privileged…

    • 31 Mar 2021
  • Hen harrier Tarras disappears from area dominated by driven grouse shooting

    Another hen harrier has disappeared in suspicious circumstances in an area dominated by driven grouse shooting, this time a young female named Tarras.

     Tarras was satellite-tagged as a chick in the nest on Langholm Moor in Scotland in 2020 as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE project. After fledging, thanks to data sent by her tiny tag, we followed Tarras as she explored the North Pennines Area of Outstanding National Beauty…

    • 15 Mar 2021
  • Two buzzards lured to their deaths on North Yorkshire grouse moor

    By Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer

    Throughout 2019 and 2020 the RSPB Investigations team were watching a grouse moor in North Yorkshire where a live, tethered eagle owl was being set out in the open as a gunman waited nearby. What was he doing? Our suspicions were confirmed when we caught a shocking crime on camera at the height of lockdown last spring.


    Lockdown last spring was an anxious time and, for us, brought…

    • 8 Mar 2021
  • Peregrine poisoned in Peak District National Park

    • Yet another bird of prey illegally killed during lockdown 2020
    • The RSPB and National Trust are calling for urgent action to end the illegal killing of birds of prey

    A peregrine falcon, which was found dead on a driven grouse moor in the Upper Derwent Valley, has just been confirmed as illegally poisoned following official toxicology analysis – adding to the growing list of protected birds of prey illegally killed…

    • 2 Mar 2021
  • Old habits die hard

    A recent graphic case of a red kite killed by a pole trap unfortunately shows the barbaric methods still being deployed to kill birds of prey on shooting estates in quiet parts of our countryside.

    There are many ways to target and kill birds of prey (raptors). In a previous blog I mentioned some of the new technology being used by the raptor killers. One of the most unpleasant ‘traditional’ methods is the use of metal…

    • 11 Dec 2020
  • Auction to raise funds for hen harrier tags

    Could you help us tag more harriers?

    The Nidderdale Raptor Study Group, in collaboration with the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) have set up a new and generous fundraising opportunity to raise money for the RSPB Investigations Team.

    Yorkshire-based artist Dan Evans is kindly creating an A2-sized oil painting of a male hen harrier, which has been donated to the Nidderdale Raptor Study Group for an online auction;…

    • 2 Dec 2020
  • Young buzzard found dead had been illegally shot

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    • The bird was found freshly dead within the Peak District National Park
    • An x-ray revealed a piece of shot lodged in the bird’s chest
    • The RSPB encourages anyone with information to come forward

    The bird, which hatched only this year, will have been in the air barely eight weeks

    The RSPB is appealing for information regarding the death of a protected buzzard…

    • 19 Nov 2020
  • A Welsh whodunnit

    Continuing advances in wildlife forensics can sometimes help establish the circumstances of a bird’s death or injury. However, some cases will probably always remain a mystery.

    We recently received the result of wildlife DNA forensic work undertaken by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) in relation to two hen harrier deaths. The most recent case related to a failed breeding attempt in Forest of Bowland…

    • 18 Nov 2020
  • Horror as buzzard gunned down on nature reserve boundary

    The RSPB is appealing to the public for information regarding the illegal shooting of a protected bird of prey.

    The buzzard was taken to a vets but sadly had to be euthanised due to its injuries

    On 10 October 2020, members of the public out walking stopped to watch a buzzard in flight, on land adjoining the south-west boundary of the RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve near High Halstow. One of them started filming it on a…

    • 13 Nov 2020
  • Peregrine illegally poisoned in Barnsley

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    South Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information regarding the poisoning of a young peregrine falcon found on the outskirts of Barnsley in July this year.

    The bird was discovered ill and unable to fly in the Fish Dam Lane area, on 4 July 2020. Sadly the bird, a juvenile which will have only hatched this spring, subsequently died. The body was forensically…

    • 26 Oct 2020
  • Two more peregrines added to lockdown list

    The RSPB has just issued the following release:

    North Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information regarding the illegal poisoning of two protected peregrines at a disused quarry near Tadcaster – adding to the body count of birds killed this spring.

    This male peregrine was found poisoned at a disused quarry

    The police received information from a local birdwatcher about the first dead peregrine on…

    • 21 Oct 2020
  • Peak Park Peregrines Poisoned

    The Peak District National Park should be a safe haven for spectacular species like peregrines, but a number of recent incidents highlight continuing problems. 

    In May this year RSPB raised concerns about the surge in raptor persecution cases during Covid lockdown. Amongst the many reports received were three involving dead peregrines in Staffordshire. It has now been confirmed three peregrines and a buzzard were illegally…

    • 29 Sep 2020
  • Another hen harrier disappears, last reported on Yorkshire grouse moor

    We have just issued the following release:

    The RSPB is once again urging the Government to step in and support licensing of grouse shooting to address the illegal persecution of birds of prey following the suspicious disappearance of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier.

    A male hen harrier (credit Andy Hay, RSPB Images)

    Dryad, a male hen harrier, hatched at a nest in the Forest of Bowland this summer. He was fitted…

    • 15 Sep 2020
  • Through RSPB binoculars – our summary of the 2020 hen harrier season in England

    By Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations UK

    On 3 September Natural England (NE) and Defra announced ‘A record-breaking year for hen harrier breeding’ stating that 60 chicks had fledged from 19 nests across Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria and Lancashire during 2020. Whilst the increased number of fledged young is encouraging, as is often the case with hen harriers, what is not mentioned is often of more interest…

    • 11 Sep 2020
  • Chicks rescued from egg collection

    The RSPB has just issued the following release:

    Three golden plover chicks and one curlew chick are getting a second chance at life after being found, as eggs, in a property in Huddersfield.

    Two of the golden plovers, credit Jack Ashton-Booth

    In April, following a report of suspicious behavior, South Yorkshire Police executed a search warrant at a Huddersfield address with the RSPB. Officers seized over 200 birds’ eggs…

    • 6 Aug 2020
  • Another red kite vanishes in suspicious circumstances in problem area

    Yesterday the RSPB issued the following release:

    Two red kites and one hen harrier – one of England’s rarest breeding birds – have vanished suddenly and unexpectedly in the same area of the North Pennines AONB since last October.

    BB (centre) being tagged as a chick

    The birds, all of which are protected by law, were wearing satellite tags to help experts understand more about their lives after leaving…

    • 5 Aug 2020
  • Two spaniels poisoned by ‘Nidderdale cocktail’ in bird of prey crime hotspot

    The RSPB has just issued the following release:

    One dog has died and another became ill after consuming a ‘cocktail of poisons’ in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire – a known blackspot for bird of prey persecution.

    Molly, a springer spaniel, and Poppy, a cocker spaniel, took ill suddenly after going for a walk on 23 April 2020 south of Pateley Bridge, within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding National Beauty…

    • 29 Jul 2020
  • Hen harriers - an inconvenient truth

    Natural England recently gave the green light for the controversial hen harrier brood management scheme to go ahead for a second year. However, has the government been sufficiently open about events last year near the very first brood management site in a notorious part of North Yorkshire?

    A male hen harrier - stunningly beautiful but still not welcome in large parts of our uplands.  Pete Morris (RSPB)

    We can reveal …

    • 19 Jun 2020
  • New starters bolster efforts to end raptor persecution

    The RSPB Investigations Team has recently welcomed a new Raptor Officer to their ranks.

    Niall Owen

    Niall Owen has taken up the post of RSPB Cymru Raptor Officer in a new Welsh government-funded role, in a clear joint statement of intent in the fight against raptor persecution in Wales.

    Niall is a keen wildlife photographer with a wealth of knowledge and passion for birds of prey, and has already began undertaking fieldwork…

    • 17 Jun 2020
  • Buzzard found shot twice in Peak District National Park

    The RSPB have issued the following press release:

    Greater Manchester Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot near Diggle, in the Peak District National Park, on 11 May 2020.

    The buzzard had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries

    A member of the public found the bird dying on the ground and contacted the RSPB. However it had to be euthanized at a vets the next morning…

    • 4 Jun 2020
  • Eyewitness describes hen harrier 'exploding'

    By Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer

    You’ll probably know as well as we do that helping to catch those responsible for killing raptors is no easy task. We might have a body, we might find an illegally set trap, but all too often the person responsible walks free.

    At the end of last year (2019), we became aware of an incident in the Forest of Bowland: a reliable witness gave an account of seeing someone shoot…

    • 2 Jun 2020
  • Unhappy Valley: raptor crime in Pateley Bridge

    North Yorkshire regularly emerges as the worst county in England for the illegal killing of birds of prey. In the past seven years, RSPB data shows that more protected raptors like red kites and buzzards have been shot, trapped and poisoned here than anywhere else.

    Within North Yorkshire, the countryside around Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale – which is heavily dominated by driven grouse shooting – is a particular blackspot…

    • 29 May 2020
  • Bird of prey persecution crimewave during lockdown

    • The RSPB has received a surge in reports of birds of prey being illegally killed since lockdown began 
    • The majority of incidents have been on or close to sporting estates managed for game bird shooting 
    • The public are being asked to stay vigilant and report crimes against birds of prey 

    The RSPB’s Investigations Unit has been ‘overrun’ with reports of birds of prey being illegally killed in recent weeks. 

    • 15 May 2020
  • Red kite vanishes in suspicious circumstances

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    Durham Police, the RSPB, the North Pennines AONB Partnership and Friends of Red Kites are appealing for information following the disappearance of a red kite in County Durham.

    KK being tagged as a chick

    The young bird was fitted with a satellite tag at Rowlands Gill, near Gateshead in June 2019 by Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) with NERF support. It has been monitored…

    • 30 Apr 2020
  • Red kites shot in Powys

    Police and the RSPB are appealing for information regarding the shooting of one red kite, and the suspected shooting of two more in Wales.

    The third bird, found by Iolo Williams

    A protected red kite was found shot dead in Tregynon, near Newtown, Powys on Sunday 19 April 2020. At least two more are suspected to have been illegally killed in the area, which is managed for pheasant shooting.

    A local woman found the two dead…

    • 22 Apr 2020