Guest blog by Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer

Goshawk, credit Roy Mangersnes

My job as an investigations officer can take you into some privileged positions. One moment that particularly sticks in my mind, is the time when I arrived with a couple of my colleagues to check on an active goshawk nest in the Peak District that we had been a putting a considerable amount effort into protecting that spring. We were visiting the nest site on a regular basis under an approved license, every time expecting the worst to have happened and the nest to have failed – as has often happened to goshawks breeding in the Peak District.

As we walked down to the nest site, with the female chittering away above us, we were stunned to see a juvenile goshawk sitting on a branch close to the nest tree that would have just left the nest. This was a rare moment of amazing intimacy to see this chick taking its first few steps in life away from the nest, heading into a sadly hostile environment for birds of prey. All was well with the nest and we swiftly left buzzing about the magic moment that we had just witnessed.

Sadly, these uplifting moments are rarely felt in this job. Most of the time, you witness nests failing due to human pressures and incidents of raptor persecution. A goshawk nest that we monitored last year in North Yorkshire tells a familiar tale of humans impacting upon these magnificent birds. The site in question had a history of failures so a covert monitoring camera was installed to try and find out why this might be.

This short video shows what happened at this site near Helmsley, North Yorkshire: