I have been in this job for just over a year. In May 2011, I strapped myself into the rollercoaster and let myself go. It has been quite a ride, but I am still smiling and I hope that I have helped save some wildlife on the way.
There are some things that I do in this job that are a real pleasure - such as this weekend's Council visit to the Midlands. It was great to see the work that we are doing with others in Sherwood Forest (with Sherwood Forest Trust and the Forestry Commission), Cannock Chase (with Cemex), Middleton Lakes (with the local Council) and Langford Lowfields (with Tarmac). Four projects at various stages of development and lots of great potential for connecting to people with wildlife. Oh and we saw a few birds too - 93 species including excellent views of Hobby at both Middleton and Langford, Woodlark at Sherwood and Redstart at Cannock Chase. In the annual competition for predicting the number of bird species we see in the weekend, I predicted 87. Close, but no cigar.
But there are some things that I still find difficult to stomach.
Last week we heard that a goshawk's nest had been destroyed in the Peak District. Yet another crime in an area that has suffered a long series of attacks on birds of prey - the most recent confirmed case being Glen Brown, a gamekeeper convicted of using a caged pigeon to lure birds of prey to a trap. The latest incident means that we are now down to just one active goshawk nest in the entire Derwent Valley. A miserable state of affairs.
We are not alone in condemning this illegal activity.
Adult Goshawk in flight, Mike Langman artwork.
Hazel Earnshaw, of Severn Trent Water, said last week: “We are sickened that this protected species has once again been subject to persecution, despite extensive efforts to protect it. The Goshawk should form a natural part of the ecosystem here in the Upper Derwent Valley. We are working closely with the RSPB to protect these birds and to identify the guilty parties."
Derbyshire Police have launched an investigation of this crime and we are offering a reward of £1000 for information leading to a conviction. The Derbyshire Constabulary is encouraging anyone with any information relating to this incident to contact the Police immediately on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Our wildlife faces many big, complicated challenges: climate change and habitat destruction being just two.
It is therefore frustrating and deeply depressing that in 2012 we still have to report needless and senseless crimes such as the destruction of a goshawk nest. But we will not stop putting a spotlight on the illegal killing of birds of prey, helping the police enforce the law and advocating tougher wildlife legislation.
And this is why, this week I shall focus on the challenge we face in keeping birds of prey flying. Tomorrow, I turn my attention to hen harriers.
What do you think is the right package of measures to stamp out bird crime?
It would be great to hear your views.
The one thing that can be done simply at the moment is for the RSPB to have a big campaign and get Chrissie's petition upto the 100,000 signatures,find it hard to believe it will happen in which case I think you are simply letting down all BOP and all of us who love them.
Sorry to be so critical but you are the only people who can organise this.
Other things would be very difficult to do that would help BOP as these landowners have the right friends to help them do their dastardly deeds.
I buy into JOHN Bs dream.
Of course what would be ideal and stop it for certain is that each shoot had to be licensed to have shooting and if any crimes committed and proven against BOP the license taken away for 10 years,a really big dream.
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