• Bad news at the bee-eaters

    Since Tuesday the behaviour of the bee-eaters has changed markedly and it appears that at least two of the three nests have failed.

    Instead of individual birds regularly flying into the nest holes with food the birds are now increasingly staying as a tight group of six birds.
    We have reviewed the nest camera footage and the frequency of nest visits leading up to Tuesday is also well below the 30 visiting per hour expected…

    • 3 Aug 2017
  • A study in scarlet (and blue, green, gold...)

    While the Nottinghamshire bee-eaters are drawing a crowd, one artist is turning his artistic talents to depicting these beautiful birds in paint.

    Celebrated wildlife artist Darren Woodhead, friend of the RSPB, was invited to make studies of the birds. Having driven down from Scotland (on his birthday!) he was given special access to the quarry car park by CEMEX. Work was carrying on around him as he painted the resident…

    • 25 Jul 2017
  • New arrivals for Nottinghamshire bee-eaters!

    After touching down in East Leake quarry on 25 June, the Nottinghamshire bee-eaters have successfully hatched chicks – just the third time this has happened in a decade.

    Nearly 10,000 people have come to see these spectacular birds, some travelling from as far afield as Cornwall and County Durham. But while visitors have been enjoying the birds, behind the scenes RSPB protection staff have been guarding three active…

    • 20 Jul 2017
  • Plan B-eater

    The RSPB’s investigations unit doesn’t just deal with dead birds – sometimes our role is to prevent crimes being committed in the first place by operating species protection schemes.

    Last week the surprise arrival of seven bee-eaters provided a colourful interlude to our usual routine. The magnificent, multicoloured seven turned up at East Leake CEMEX Quarry, near Loughborough, on 25 June and quickly…

    • 4 Jul 2017
  • Update from Cyprus: Eight trappers prosecuted

    Back in March I provided an update on events in Cyprus, outlining the use of covert cameras by RSPB Investigations unit and Sovereign Base Area (SBA) police in autumn 2016 to catch bird trappers. 

    Myself and a colleague installed covert cameras at  seven locations with the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA) which showed 19  individuals removing struggling birds from mist nets, then killing them with knives before tossing…

    • 16 Jun 2017
  • Two persecuted peregrines, three surviving chicks: one successful rescue mission

    UPDATE: 8/6/17 

    Reaching new heights for conservation - guest post by Mark Thomas, RSPB Investigations 

    Yesterday the sight of a scruffy, fluffy peregrine chick gulping down a beakful of meat had a fair few of us punching the air. High atop Salisbury Cathedral’s tower (the highest in the country, as it turns out!), huddled around TV monitors, we watched as the cathedral’s nesting peregrine fed her new foster chick for…

    • 3 Jun 2017
  • Satellite tag review reveals Scotland's golden eagles are dying in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors

    Today (31 May 2017) the Scottish Government published a long-awaited report on the role of satellite tagging technology in monitoring the movements of birds of prey – and it’s a watershed moment in the battle against raptor persecution.

    The report concluded that: ‘satellite tagging of young golden eagles has revealed that many young birds have probably been illegally killed in some parts of Scotland between…

    • 31 May 2017
  • Two more shot buzzards added to North Yorkshire's bird of prey victim toll

    Usually I’m proud to be a Yorkshire lass. The land of tea and the Tour de Yorkshire, we brought home 14 of GB's 67 medals at Rio 2016. We gave the world Captain Cook, James Herriot and the Brontes. And Yorkshire puddings? You’re welcome.

    But behind the rugged beauty of our sheep-dotted hills lies a far uglier claim to fame. North Yorkshire in particular is becoming tarnished by a reputation for ruthless…

    • 31 May 2017
  • The Invisible Detective

    Recently there have been a number of depressing reports of shot peregrines. These amazing thunderbolts of evolution are clearly not appreciated by everyone, and soon we will no doubt be getting reports of eggs and chicks being taken from nest sites. This appears to be signs of a worry upturn in recent years.

    This set my mind back to when I arrived at the RSPB in 1991. Since the start of the Wildlife and Countryside…

    • 13 Apr 2017
  • Red alert: kites grounded

    After a flurry of activity surrounding peregrines last week, this week the RSPB's investigations team has been busy dealing with two instances of shot red kites. The unfortunate individual below was found dead near Toddington in Bedfordshire. The body was sent for post-mortem examination - and the resulting X-ray was something of a shock.

    As you can see, the bird has been peppered with as many as 10 pieces of shot…

    • 7 Apr 2017
  • Peregrines under pressure

    As the breeding season gets underway, the RSPB's investigations team has, sadly, received a number of reports of shot peregrines - including this one from Hampshire.

    On 11 March, a teenage girl discovered a peregrine falcon struggling to fly in King Somborne, Hampshire. It was taken to the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover where it was examined by a vet who confirmed that the bird had a fractured wing, caused by…

    • 30 Mar 2017
  • More bad news from Cyprus

    The illegal trapping and hunting of millions of birds around the Mediterranean has been well publicised in recent years. A 2015 BirdLife International scientific review, 'The Killing', estimated an annual death toll of around 25 million birds, with Italy and Egypt being the worst offenders. Also high on the list is Cyprus, where there is a huge problem with the illegal trapping of migrant birds for the expensive f…

    • 16 Mar 2017
  • More dark secrets in North Yorkshire

    North Yorkshire is the largest county in England with huge areas of open countryside, two National Parks and has huge potential for birds of prey and other wildlife.  Unfortunately, the county continues to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.  Recently there have been reports about a string of illegally killed red kites and a gamekeeper controversially cautioned for setting three pole traps.  This is built on a depressing…

    • 9 Dec 2016
  • Rowan – a personal reflection

    On Monday Cumbria Constabulary released the news that many suspected, that the satellite tagged hen harrier Rowan appears to have been shot.  So it looks like yet another victim in the unending catalogue of crimes perpetrated against hen harriers and other birds of prey in the uplands of the UK. One wonders what hope there is for the Defra Hen Harrier plan whilst persecution appears to continue unabated.

    The last week or…

    • 9 Nov 2016
  • New hope for goshawks or just a shot in the dark ?

    The Upper Derwent Valley in the Peak District National Park was formerly known as THE place to see goshawks in the UK.

    Goshawks have been inextricably linked to the valley since they first successfully bred in 1966.  In the late 1970’s the Peak District population was nationally significant, constituting a third of the British breeding population. However as the species has increased and spread elsewhere there has…

    • 22 Jun 2016
  • Proceed with caution?

    A male has received a caution by North Yorkshire Police for the illegal setting of three pole traps on a grouse moor near Hawes in North Yorkshire.

    It is certainly not every day that you receive a call telling you that three set pole traps have been found out on a driven grouse moor in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Pole traps consist of a powerful spring trap illegally set in the open on a prominent…

    • 1 Jun 2016
  • Trouble in the valleys

    Recent information on social media has expressed concerns about a possible police ‘cover up’ in relation to some serious wildlife poisoning incidents in Powys during 2012 and 2013.  The police have responded with a short statement.  Having been involved from the outset with this investigation, I thought it would be helpful to provide a bit more information to allay concerns.

    In October 2012, in company with…

    • 11 Mar 2016
  • Bee-eaters are buzzy feeding young!

    Twelve days ago we went public with the brilliant news of nesting bee-eaters in Cumbria, well a lot has happened since then, we have been really busy but we are back with an update.

    Firstly, the response to the news was staggering, dawn on Friday 31st July saw keen visitors queuing up to enter the site and see the birds ! We had to put out a prompt message – these birds don’t wake up and leave the nest until around 7…

    • 13 Aug 2015
  • Come and see brilliant bee-eaters

    During the week of 15th June, the RSPB received one of those calls you don’t often forget! Employees at the Hanson Aggregates Quarry at Lower Gelt, near Brampton in Cumbria, had been puzzled by the appearance of several exotic-looking birds that had suddenly appeared in the quarry. Contact was made with RSPB via the Nature After Minerals project and two local RSPB staff were dispatched on a fact-finding mission…

    • 31 Jul 2015
  • Some good news from the front


    During the autumn of 2000, which seems a long time ago, I made a visit with a colleague to Cyprus following reports of extensive illegal trapping of migrant birds using mist nets and electronic tape lures.  Cyprus provides a key staging post for millions of migratory birds, and has important resident populations of birds.  Due to its location in the eastern Mediterranean, a number of important migration flyways converge…

    • 11 Jul 2015
  • How much for an eagle?

    What value you would put on a fantastic bird like a white-tailed eagle? 

    I suspect many would simply say priceless.  At the other extreme, a few misguided individuals may be all too eager to see these birds, and other similar species, removed off the face of our landscape.  I believe most people can appreciate the importance of protecting our environment, whether it be for the food, water, air and resources it provides…

    • 11 Mar 2015
  • How bad does it have to get?

    On the 1 October 2014, at Norwich Magistrates Court, Allen Lambert, a gamekeeper formerly on the Stody Estate in Norfolk, was found guilty of two charges relating to the killing of 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk and possession of pesticides and other items to prepare poisoned baits.  He had earlier pleaded guilty to five charges relating to the possession of nine dead buzzards, possession and use of banned pesticides (mevinphos…

    • 6 Nov 2014
  • Bedlam in Bulgaria

    Today an English egg collector, Jan Frederick Ross formerly of Bury, Greater Manchester, was convicted in a Bulgarian court for egg collecting offences.

    We first dealt with Mr Ross back in 1998 shortly after the start of his egg collecting career.  A search warrant at his home in Bury found several recently taken eggs including clutches of osprey, red kite, peregrine and also Slavonian grebe from the RSPB Loch Ruthven…

    • 22 Oct 2014
  • Singing in the rain

    What a glorious feeling

    I’m happy again

    Well for now at least.

    The 10 August 2014 was a very special day. It was Hen Harrier day - where over 500 ordinary men, women and children came out in the torrential rain to show their support for the plight of this spectacular yet beleaguered bird. People, some having travelled huge distances just to be there, who were all singing the same tune. 

    A soggy crowd in…

    • 11 Aug 2014
  • If you go down to the woods

    Guy Shorrock RSPB Senior Investigations Officer reports on a recent prosecution.

    When Ed McBride went for one of his brisk early morning walks on a lovely day in August last year, he had no idea of the big surprise that lay ahead. Taking a slightly different route than usual he reached the corner of a large block of woodland on the edge of some farmland just to the west of Kingsclere in Hampshire.

    At the corner of…

    • 31 Jul 2014