Hen Harriers in the Peak District

One of Britain’s most threatened birds, the hen harrier, has bred on the National Trust’s High Peak Moors in the Peak District National Park, for the first time in four years.

The four chicks are said to be in a ‘healthy condition’ after hatching just a few days ago on land managed by the conservation charity.

The hen harrier is one of the most special birds of the British uplands and is famed for the adult’s mesmerising and dramatic ‘sky dance’, which the male performs as it seeks to attract a female.

“We’re delighted to learn of this nest” said Jon Stewart, the National Trust’s General Manager for the Peak District.

“The hen harrier has been one of the most illegally persecuted birds of prey in Britain for many years and we have set out on a mission to work with others to create the conditions for the harrier and other birds of prey to thrive once again in the uplands.

“We hope this will be a positive model for improving the fate of our birds of prey and providing the healthy natural environment that so many people care about and want to see”.

In 2013 the Trust published its High Peak Moors Vision, which put at its heart restoring wildlife, including birds of prey, and involving people in the care of the moors.

The conservation charity leases much of its High Peak moorland for grouse shooting and all shooting tenants have signed up to actively supporting the Vision.  As well as the hen harrier, initial signs are promising this year for other species such as the peregrine falcon, merlin and short eared owl.

“It is critical the birds are now given the space and security to rear their young without the threat of disturbance or worse.” Jon continued “The Trust will be working with its partners and tenants to give the birds the best chance of success. We are also working with the RSPB EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project to fit satellite tags to the chicks so that we can monitor their movements and learn more to inform the conservation of this very special bird. There is a great sense from everyone closely involved that we want this to work not just for these birds now, but as a symbol for the whole future direction of our uplands.  Uplands that are richer in wildlife and beauty, widely enjoyed and providing huge public benefits.”

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Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative 2018

Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group fully understands and supports the position taken by the RSPB with regards to the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative, PDRMG will continue to work closely with the RSPB regarding population data and raptor persecution. After 6 years involvement it is clear that illegal persecution remains the main issue impacting breeding populations of the larger raptors (including Raven and Short-eared Owl) in our study area. Disappointingly the initial objectives of the Initiative have not been met and despite assurances from the representatives of the Grouse shooting interests sitting on the Initiative, the Moorland Association, that there was a willingness to work towards increasing breeding populations of raptors in the Dark Peak there has been little evidence on the ground of any genuine intent amongst the shooting estates involved.

We were particularly disappointed that when the 2016-17 report was eventually published that the group was unable to unanimously agree the strong public statement that the results merited (the only dissenting member being the MA). It was even more disappointing to read the comments from the gamekeepers’ representative published on Raptor Persecution UK blog, especially as the Initiative have been assured repeatedly that persecution issues are acknowledged and that steps were being undertaken to ensure a resolution. It is clear from the comments that this is not the case, coupled with the fact that they refused the opportunity to further engage with the Initiative when asked to participate directly. PDRMG will continue to assist the authorities with regards to any suspected cases of illegal persecution of raptors in our study area.

We have considered carefully our options with regard to our further involvement in the Initiative. It hasn’t been an easy decision and it remains an issue of contention, however, we are going to continue (in the short term at least), to support the efforts of the Peak District National Park Authority to continue with the Initiative.

We are hoping that 2018 will be seen as a real opportunity for the Grouse shooting interests operating in the Dark Peak to try and demonstrate that shoots can be viable without having to resort to illegal persecution of our iconic birds of prey.

PDRMG will continue to monitor site occupation, nesting attempts and outcomes of all our study species providing information to the Bird of Prey Initiative, the RSPB and the BTO. We hope to see a noticeable increase in occupation of historic breeding sites of the larger species and that there is no evidence of continuing illegal persecution. We will review our position at the end of Spring by which time we should know if species such as Goshawk and Peregrine are being allowed to breed without incident.

Posted in birds of prey, Falco peregrinus, Hen Harrier, peak district, Peregrine Falcon, raptor, reporting | 1 Comment

Peatland for birds conference

Peatland for birds Program pdf

Booking can be made online here http://www.ukeconet.org/peatlandsforbirds.html

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Ringing Recovery – Peregrine Falcon Orange 3Z

In May 2016, PDRMG were invited by Wakefield Naturalists’ Society to ring the young Peregrine Falcons at the Cathedral in Wakefield.

4 Birds were ringed with BTO metal rings and fitted with Orange Darvic Rings 3Z, 4Z, 5Z and 6Z.

Darvic rings are fitted to help us better understand the movements of urban nesting Peregrines following natal dispersal.







We received notice from the BTO of the recovery of one of the birds GV25266 – Orange 3Z.

The bird had collided with overhead powerlines near Ripon, North Yorkshire and had died.

56KM North of the cathedral and 124 days after ringing.






We would like to thank the finder for reporting this unfortunate bird, more details of what to do if you find a ringed bird or a dead bird of prey can be found HERE

Posted in birds of prey, Darvic, dead bird of prey, Falco peregrinus, Hit wires, Peregrine Falcon, Protection, raptor, Recoveries, reporting, reporting ringed birds, ringed bird, ringed bird of prey, Wakefield Cathedral, Wakefield Naturalists’ Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The North of England Raptor Conference 2016   

NERF LogoThis year’s North of England Raptor Conference is being hosted by:-

The Durham Upland Bird Study Group and

The Durham Bird Club

and will be held on Saturday 19th November at the Xcel Centre (www.Xcelcentre.com) Aycliffe Business Park, County Durham, DL5 6AP.

It is open to all with an interest in raptors in the uplands.  To learn more about the full one-day programme and how to book please go to www.raptorforum.co.uk/conference .

Alternatively please contact: davidrawdubsg@aol.com for more information.

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Conference – Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Conservation, Land Management & Issues

Friday September 9th & Saturday September 10th 2016 at the Sheffield Showroom & Workstation

conf-hhAt the Uplands, Peatlands & Raptors conference, we will address the hugely controversial issues of why Britain has lost its upland hen harriers, and much more besides. This is a major national conference with relevance to wider international issues as well.

This landmark event will bring together key academics and practitioners to examine the
ecological and conservation issues of raptors on uplands generally, and peatlands specifically, from bogs to heather moors.

The first day (9th September) will be a full day of presentations with an optional informal evening meal which needs to be booked separately. The following day (Saturday 10th
September) will have plenary sessions in the morning followed by an after-lunch discussion forum in the early afternoon. Later in the afternoon there will be a field visit by
coach / own transport to the Ringinglow area before returning to Sheffield early evening.

The conference will be opened by local MP, Angela Smith. Speakers for Friday include: Mark Avery, Alan Charles, Steve Redpath, Philip Merricks, Pat Thompson, Adrian Jowitt and Stephen Murphy. And, on Saturday morning there will be presentations by Barry O’Donoghue, Rhodri Thomas, Alan Fielding and Sonja Ludwig.
More information and a booking form are available from our website http://www.ukeconet.org/raptors.html . Costs start from £15 per day for volunteers [without lunch] to £35 for volunteers etc, including lunch and refreshments, and £85 per day for academics, agencies, etc. If you wish to be put on our mailing list or to offer support or a poster presentation, please email: info@hallamec.plus.com or telephone 0114 2724227.

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Two recoveries

We recently received the details of two recoveries of birds we have ringed. Both are cause of death unknown, could we please encourage people to consider reporting dead raptors if they find them, you can find more details here.

The first was a Long-eared Owl G82800. one of a brood of four ringed on 5/5/2014 at a confidential site in West Yorkshire (please note maps are representative only and are deliberately inaccurate to ensure the safety of nesting birds).

The bird was found freshly dead 676 days after ringing, 4KM from the nest site.






The 2nd bird was a Raven MA18685, one of a brood of four ringed in Cheshire on 13/4/2013.

This bird was found dead 85KM NNW from where it was ringed. Found nr Slaidburn, Forest of Bowland, Lancs 1074 days after ringing.MA18685







We would like to thank the finders for reporting these unfortunate birds, more details of what to do if you find a ringed bird or a dead bird of prey can be found HERE

Posted in raptor, Raven, Recoveries, reporting, reporting ringed birds, ringed bird | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Reporting Dead Birds of Prey

Please see this page for info on reporting dead raptors, if you would like any assistance please do not hesitate to Contact Us and we will do our best to help.

On Friday I collected a dead barn owl from a local birder, he wasn’t sure if I’d be interested in receiving it or not.


Although I can’t be 100% I am fairly sure that this particular bird died from starvation, the weather hasn’t been optimal for feeding owls and I can feel from the birds breast that it has been underfed for a significant period.


This has it got me thinking about how we can encourage more people to report any dead Birds of Prey and Owls, so that they can be collected and sent to The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme for analysis.

The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) is a long-term, national monitoring scheme that quantifies the concentrations of contaminants in the livers and eggs of selected species of predatory and fish-eating birds in Britain.

They monitor the levels of contaminants to determine how and why they vary between species and regions, how they are changing over time, and the effects that they may have on individual birds and on their populations.

It is also important as Birds of Prey and Owls can be the victims of persecution, as recently seen in this request for information from Derbyshire Police from February 3rd 2016

Reward offered as more birds of prey are illegally killed in the Peak District National Park

Derbyshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information following the illegal killing of two birds of prey near to Glossop, Derbyshire. A £1000 reward has been offered by the RSPB for information leading to a conviction.

On September 09, 2015, a dead osprey was found to the west of Derbyshire Level. A post mortem on the bird revealed that both its legs had been recently broken, injuries which were consistent with it being caught in a spring trap prior to its death. Ospreys are rare visitors to the Peak District and this one would have been on migration to West Africa.

On September 30, a buzzard was found shot dead close to Hurst Reservoir, only a short distance from where the osprey was found. This follows the shooting of another buzzard in the same area in March 2014.

Sergeant Darren Belfield from Derbyshire police said: “I would appeal to anyone who might have any information as to who may be responsible for these cruel acts to contact the police on 101. The continued persecution of birds of prey in the Peak District is totally unacceptable. If you suspect someone of committing any crimes against wildlife, act now. Your call will be dealt with in confidence. If you don’t feel you can talk to the police, pass the information to us through Crimestoppers by ringing 0800 555 111.”

RSPB Investigations Officer Alan Firth said: “Yet again, we are seeing the senseless killing of fantastic birds of prey in the National Park.”

Last year, the RSPB published its annual Birdcrime Report 2014, which revealed Derbyshire as one of the worst places in the UK for bird of prey persecution. In 2014, the RSPB received 16 reports of bird of prey incidents in the county including a shot buzzard, a shot sparrowhawk and an illegally trapped goshawk.

Posted in Barn Owl, birds of prey, dead bird of prey, Injured bird of prey, injured Owl, Injured raptor, Owls, PBMS, peak district, raptor, reporting, reporting ringed birds | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Barn Owl’s

Barn owl

3 of 4 Barn Owl Chicks, ringed in 2014.

Barn Owls hadn’t been recorded as a breeding species in the Glossop area since sometime in the 1980’s. With increased sightings each year it was fantastic to learn of  a pair breeding nearby in 2014.

Barn Owl

5th Barn Owl Young 2014

There were 5 young at the time of ringing and 4 birds were ringed under licence from the BTO, the 5th bird was very advanced and mobile and moved too far into the crevice to be safely captured.

2015 saw a number of other breeding attempts recorded in our study area, but what we found is that some are breeding in places which we might not have expected, some in sites that could make them vulnerable.

Given the recent breeding success and the small but seemingly growing local population, we though that it would be worth trying some nest boxes in areas where owls are being seen or where the habitat is suitable for Barn Owls.

DOS2At that time we were also in talks with a number of conversation groups about monitoring Barn Owls in Derbyshire. We asked if there might be any funding available to help with this project,  Derbyshire Ornithological Society said they would be willing to provide some                                               help with funding for a number of boxes which would be                                                               manufactured, erected, maintained and monitored by PDRMG .

The boxes were built using the Barn Owl Trust Box design which can be found here

build boxes

Barn Owl Boxes being built

install boxes

Barn Owl Boxes being installed

A number of landowners and farmers expressed an interest in helping with the Barn Owl Project and we have installed some of the boxes in barns and disused outbuildings around the Dark Peak.

Do You Have a Suitable Building?

  • At least 4 metres high.
  • With an opening or hole at least 3 metres above ground level which overlooks open countryside.
  • Where the nestbox can be positioned 3+ metres above the ground.
  • Where the nestbox access hole is visible to an owl from the most likely entrance point.
  • Ideally within 1 km of areas or strips of rough grassland. It doesn’t matter what the building is made of, or used for.
  • Barn Owls can learn to tolerate noise and activity as long as they have something to hide in – such as a nestbox.
  • Rodenticides are a real threat to our Barn Owl Population – Please see this page for information on How to control rats as safely as possible

More information on What Barn Owls need is available from the RSPB and Barn Owl Trust

If you think that you could accommodate a nest box with a view to helping provide a suitable place for Barn Owls to breed, please get in touch here

Finally a big thank you to DOS for their kind sponsorship of the project and thanks also to those who have already had Barn Owl boxes installed on their premises and those that we haven’t quite got around to yet (mainly those a little further afield), let’s hope we can make a difference and see Barn Owls breeding regularly in the boxes provided.

Posted in Nest Boxes, Nest Recording, Owls, peak district, raptor, reporting, ringed bird | Tagged , , , , , ,

Just in time for Migration

hobby wingOne of the young Hobbies we ringed at a nest in Cheshire has unfortunately had a collision with a wire fencing close to the nest site, resulting in damage to the soft tissue of the underside of the wing as can be seen in this picture.



WP_20150827_11_31_46_ProLuckily help was on hand when the bird was found and local birder, falconer and raptor worker Phil was able to collect the bird quickly, despite being very busy at work.




A call to a coupDSCN1268le of friends and the bird was en route to AVS at Northwich. A fantastic team who offer advice and help to the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group when requested.

Thankfully although extremely bruised there were no fractures evident and due to the quick action of all involved hopefully no permanent harm done.

Following cleaning up of the wound (using a falconry hood to keep the bird calm; ‘hoodwinking’ it into thinking it was night-time!), some topical and systemic pain relief/anti-inflammatories and fluid therapy the bird was delivered back to Phil for a short rehabilitation period in his aviary before being released back in to the wild where it quickly rejoined it’s parents and sibling in with plenty of time to recover before the long migration journey south to Africa

Posted in birds of prey, Eurasian Hobby, falco subbuteo, Hobby, Injured bird of prey, Injured raptor, Protection, Rescue, ringed bird, ringed bird of prey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,