• A case of land mis-management: valuable breeding bird habitat destroyed during the breeding season

    by Andrew Gouldstone, RSPB Ecologist and former Senior Site Manager, Rainham Marshes

    The RSPB’s Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve is an important site for wildlife, sitting alongside the River Thames in east London, and inside the orbital M25. It rests in a very urban and industrial landscape, surrounded by housing, industry, transport corridors and a large waste landfill and recycling site.

    The reserve itself is…

    • 31 Aug 2023
  • Short-eared Owl shot on moor: An eyewitness account

    While we too often come across the bodies - birds either dead or injured containing shot, or caught in traps - it's not often we get a first-hand, eyewitness account of a bird of prey being killed.

    Last summer, an individual (who understandably has asked not to be named) had the unhappy experience of seeing a Short-eared Owl shot in front of his eyes while birding on Broomhead Moor in the Peak District. His fast actions…

    • 16 Jun 2023
  • Hopes dashed for vanished Hen Harrier Anu, whose tag was found cut off after roosting on grouse moor

    By Tom Grose, Investigations Officer

    Satellite tags have been fantastic for helping to shed light on the lives of a wide variety of animals around the world. One outcome from their use on birds of prey in the UK has highlighted the scale of persecution facing some of these species. A peer-reviewed paper utilising the tagging data of 58 Natural England tagged Hen Harriers was published in 2019. The science showed what was…

    • 17 Mar 2023
  • Attack on nature in microcosm: demolition work devastates gull colony

    By Guy Shorrock, Volunteer with RSPB Investigations

    A Herring Gull - a ‘red-listed’ species of high conservation concern (Guy Shorrock)

    The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries with huge pressures on existing wildlife populations. Further developments such an Avian Influenza are having devastating impacts for several species including many seabirds. In late 2022, a furore erupted after the RSPB…

    • 14 Mar 2023
  • Regime Change in the Peak District

    This is a story about the illegal use of rodenticides. It is also a story about one particular rodenticide called brodifacoum. There have been some serious incidents where dogs out for walks have died from ingesting brodifacoum due to its illegal use. And the misuse and deliberate abuse of brodifacoum is having a troubling impact on our wildlife too, on a scale not yet fully understood but it is now widely recognised as…

    • 2 Mar 2023
  • Lowland shoots and poison – a toxic situation

    By Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer

    On 16 February 2023, Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen received a 15 week prison sentence (suspended for 12 months) at Weymouth Magistrates Court, Dorset after pleading guilty to the possession of dead raptors and poisons

    A poisoned Red Kite found next to a dead rat on the Shaftesbury Estate

    This investigation was triggered when a walker found a dead Red Kite next to the carcass…

    • 15 Feb 2023
  • RSPB joins up with wildlife vet to crack down on raptor crime

    The RSPB Investigations Team has launched a free online learning module for veterinary professionals, to help identify potential incidents of raptor persecution which might otherwise go undetected and unreported.

    Raptor persecution (predominantly shooting, trapping and poisoning)  is a UK wildlife crime priority and RSPB Investigations team works closely with enforcement agencies to tackle the issue. 

    X-ray of dead raptor…

    • 30 Jan 2023
  • Five shot goshawks found in forest: Suffolk Police and RSPB issue big appeal for information

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    Widespread shock as five shot Goshawks found dead in Suffolk Forest

    • Five dead Goshawks containing multiple pieces of shot found in Suffolk
    • The juvenile birds, which probably hatched only last summer, were found dead together in Kings Forest in Suffolk
    • The RSPB is offering its highest ever reward - £5,000 - for anyone who has information which leads to a convicti…
    • 18 Jan 2023
  • Reflections on a poisoning

    By Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer

    One of the buzzards found illegally killed at a pheasant shoot in Norfolk

    On 5 October 2022 gamekeeper Matthew Stroud was convicted of a litany of offences at Norwich Magistrates Court. He pleaded guilty to the killing six buzzards and a goshawk, placing poisoned baits, possession of the banned poison strychnine hydrochloride and the illegal release of gamebirds onto a Special…

    • 4 Nov 2022
  • Gamekeeper fined for pesticide offences after illegally killed birds of prey found on pheasant shooting estate

    A gamekeeper has been fined for pesticide offences after a shot buzzard, a poisoned red kite, a poison bait and banned pesticides were found on a pheasant shooting estate in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.

    A shot buzzard found dead on the North Wales pheasant shooting estate

    On 6 June 2022 at Wrexham Magistrates’, David Matthews - a gamekeeper on the McAlpine Estate - pleaded guilty to one charge relating to the possession…

    • 13 Jun 2022
  • Bringing up the bodies

    Gamekeeper Archie Watson 

    On 1 June 2022 at Swindon Magistrates’ Court gamekeeper Archie Watson (21) received a 12-month community order to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and told to pay £393 costs for pleading guilty to offences relating to the possession of five buzzards and three red kites. This conviction was the conclusion to a complex multi-agency raptor persecution investigation involving the largest number of…

    • 1 Jun 2022
  • Buzzard found shot dead in Peak District

    Image credit: Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group 

    The body of the bird was discovered in woodland at Langsett, within the Peak District National Park, an area sadly tainted by systematic raptor persecution

    South Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot dead in the Peak District National Park.

    The body of the bird was discovered in woodland at Flouch, near the popular…

    • 4 Mar 2022
  • Time to step up for birds of prey

    By Katie-Jo Luxton, RSPB Global Conservation Director

    A recent UN report, commissioned by Defra, and subsequent responses to Parliamentary Questions continue to cast serious concerns about the resolve of the Westminster government to tackle raptor persecution and other areas of wildlife crime. 

    In March last year Defra announced the UK as the first G20 country to have invited a UN-backed assessment of wildlife and forest…

    • 15 Feb 2022
  • Keeper caught on camera killing buzzards in cage trap

    By Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations

    Today a gamekeeper has received a total of 20 week’s imprisonment suspended for one year and a £1000 fine after he was caught on camera killing two buzzards in the space of two days, on a pheasant shoot in Nottinghamshire. Investigations Officer Tom Grose takes us through the story, from the beginning.

    Shortly before New Year 2021 two members of the public found a live buzzard…

    • 28 Jan 2022
  • Cage traps in the spotlight across the UK

    At the end of this month a gamekeeper from Nottinghamshire will be sentenced for several offences including the intentional killing of two common buzzards which were caught in a crow cage trap during harsh weather in January last year. This, and three other recent cases, have once again brought into sharp focus the concerns about the persistent misuse and abuse of these traps for the illegal taking and killing of birds…

    • 13 Jan 2022
  • Man fined after sparrowhawk starves to death in trap

    An amateur gamekeeper has received an £800 fine after a sparrowhawk starved to death in a trap in Cheshire.

    Photo credit RSPB

    At Manchester Magistrates’ court today (16 December 2021), Hilton Prest pleaded guilty to unlawfully using a trap on or before 10/2/21 contrary to Sec 5(1)(b) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. He was fined £800 (plus £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge). A charge against a second man was…

    • 16 Dec 2021
  • Gamekeeper given community order for pesticide and firearms offences

    A part-time gamekeeper has been given a community order and ordered to pay £200 costs, having previously pleaded guilty to six charges in relation to pesticide and firearms offences.

    Police searching Leech's property

    Shane Leech, 33, of Maids Cross Hill, Lakenheath, Suffolk was sentenced today (8 November) at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, following the report of an illegally poisoned buzzard. Leech was given…

    • 8 Nov 2021
  • Stopping illegal poisoning – just what will it take?

    Today another conviction at court for the illegal keeping of pesticides (along with firearms offences) once again highlights the problems of trying to establish who was actually responsible for the poisoning of a bird of prey.

    The laying of poison baits in the open countryside has been illegal for over 100 years yet here in the 21st century this pernicious practice continues. Whilst shooting raptors is of course illegal…

    • 8 Nov 2021
  • Partnership increasing pressure on the raptor killers

    Recent multi-agency work by statutory agencies and RSPB Investigations has demonstrated what can be achieved with a collective approach.

     Next week I will have been working for RSPB Investigations for precisely 30 years and raptor persecution has never been far from the headlines. Whilst there has been a welcome increase for many species, such as common buzzards, red kites, marsh harriers and ospreys, the picture for several…

    • 21 Oct 2021
  • Scottish hen harrier Reiver disappears in suspicious circumstances

    Another satellite tagged hen harrier has suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared, strengthening the RSPB’s call for the urgent licensing of grouse moors.

    Reiver being tagged as a chick in 2021

    Reiver, a young female, fledged from a nest on Langholm Moor in the south of Scotland this summer. She was fitted with a satellite tag while still in her nest, as part of an RSPB project to help understand the journeys made…

    • 18 Oct 2021
  • How you can help us tackle raptor persecution

    This summer, for many of us, the allure of an escape to the Lakes, the Dales, the Peak District or the Highlands of Scotland is more appealing than ever. With more folks holidaying closer to home, the RSPB’s Investigations Team is asking locals and visitors alike to be alert to threats and dangers to wildlife, and report anything which might appear suspicious, to help keep our countryside safe for people and wildlife…

    • 23 Aug 2021
  • RSPB produces raptor crime enforcement guide

    Plenty has changed over the past year, but raptor persecution sadly remains a problem that won’t go away. Last spring the RSPB reported on the ‘surge’ in cases during the first lockdown, and while the RSPB Birdcrime 2020 report won’t be published until later this year, early indications suggest 2020 was a depressingly bad year.

    With this backdrop, it is clear that increased pressure on the raptor…

    • 12 May 2021
  • Police appeal for information following suspected poisoning at Clee Hill

    We were devastated to learn of yet another suspected poisoning incident at Titterstone Clee, Shropshire, resulting in the death of at least one peregrine and the failure of any eggs they were incubating.

     The Shropshire Peregrine Group, who had been observing the site, were glad to see the return of a pair of peregrines to the disused quarry in early April this year. This is a nest site which has been used in the past…

    • 7 May 2021
  • Yarrow is latest hen harrier to vanish in suspicious circumstances

    Yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier has disappeared in suspicious circumstances at a crucial time in the breeding season.

    Yarrow being fitted with her satellite tag last summer. Photo credit John Wright

    Yarrow, a female hen harrier, hatched in the Scottish Borders in summer 2020. She was fitted with a satellite tag, which provided scientists with regular updates on her whereabouts. But transmissions from her tag…

    • 29 Apr 2021
  • Suspended sentence for egg collector

    • The repeat offender was caught with nearly 200 birds’ eggs at this home
    • Among the collection were curlew eggs, a species in rapid global decline

    Black-headed gull eggs at Potter's home

    A man found with a collection of almost 200 eggs has been sentenced today at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court. Terrance Potter, 63, was given a 12-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, for offences relating to the taking and…

    • 23 Apr 2021