• 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
  • One man’s poison

    Blog post written by Bob Elliot, RSPB's Head of Investigations

    Carbofuran, aldicarb, mevinphos, strychnine and alphachloralose.

    That is a pretty horrific list of pesticides for those in the know. The first four have all been unapproved (i.e. banned) for many years and are highly toxic for anyone who could potentially come into contact them, whether it is human or animal.

    For the RSPB Investigations team, over the…

    • 30 May 2014
  • Stuck in the Dark ages

    Written by Howard Jones, Assistant Investigations Officer

    When I used to think of the year 2014 as a child it sounded like a date that was so far into the future that it was simply beyond all comprehension. It was a date straight out of ‘Tomorrow’s World’ where robots would serve us dinner and cars would drive us. Yet having been part of the Investigations team for nearly two years now, I can only say…

    • 14 Feb 2014
  • A thief by any other name


    German: Eierdieb

    Swedish: Äggtjuv

    Finnish : Munavaras

    English: Egg thief

    A conviction earlier today (here) of three egg collectors in Sweden, one of whom was jailed for a year, has highlighted yet again that it is not just the UK who has problems with this peculiar type of criminal.  When I started at the RSPB back in 1992, I came into contact for the first time with the strange world of egg collectors. At that…

    • 31 Jan 2014
  • Collecting without conscience

    On 9 April 2013 at Inverness Sheriff court, Keith Liddell of Holm Dell Drive, Inverness, was sentenced to a 220 hours community service order.  During an earlier trial in March there was a dramatic change in direction and he decided to plead guilty to 13 charges relating to the illegal trading in birds’ eggs and possession of 338 eggs. 

    The background to this case and events elsewhere give a fascinating insight into…

    • 10 Apr 2013
  • Do your bit, for the Peak Goshawk

    Like many nature lovers born in the massively populated areas that surround the Peak District National Park my life has been inextricably linked to that special place and its wildlife.

    My passion was really ignited on my first ever school trip, to a Peak outdoor pursuits centre, despite the really exciting itinerary it was the birds that did it, 5 days of specialist birding, dipper, merlin, stonechat, ring ouzel, dunlin…

    • 27 Nov 2012
  • From the beat to Bangkok

    I'm in my hotel room in a very hot and muggy Bangkok with the sounds of a 10 million-strong bustling city going on around me. When I started work as a Police Officer, at the tender age of 22, little did I realise how my journey would lead to the exciting work of the RSPB Investigations section.

    Furthermore, I certainly would not have believed that some 28 years later I would be attending an international conference…

    • 9 Jul 2012
  • Special cases

    I’m not an Investigations Officer, but I do consider myself to be in a privileged position. Late last year I became the RSPB’s Head of Species & Habitat Conservation, resulting in me taking over the responsibility for the UK Investigations team.

    Now, having worked for the RSPB for over 12 years, I felt I knew what they did. But it was only when I got to see it up close that I realised the extent of what…

    • 2 Jul 2012