Help save the Peregrine Falcons
Classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it covers 808 square Kilometers of rural Lancashire and North Yorkshire.
The Forest of Bowland is internationally important for its upland bird populations and under the Habitats Directive "Bowland Fells" are designated a Special Protection Area for specific birds of prey.
The Forest of Bowland may be an SPA, but raptors like Hen Harrier and Peregrine Falcon receive no protection.
In 2009 - 25 Peregrine territories in the Forest of Bowland were examined by the NWRG. 17 sites were occupied, 6 nests failed following the loss of eggs, chicks and adult birds. A total of 11 territories produced 24 fledged young.
In 2010 the Government’s Wildlife Adviser, Natural England, withdrew Peregrine licenses for use in the Forest of Bowland from members of the NWRG, following the group’s disclosure on social media of wide scale raptor persecution throughout this moorland region, where Red Grouse are shot. Other licenses issued to group members since 1974, covering additional raptor species including Peregrine for areas outside the Forest of Bowland remained unaffected.
By 2016, 99% of Bowland Peregrine nesting territories were found abandoned.
The loss of an entire regional population of Peregrines (18 pairs) from the Forest of Bowland is unprecedented.
To protect these Peregrines, the NWRG need your help to purchase the following urgently needed kit: Go-Pro camera - 2 mountain bikes - radio transceivers & infra-red night vision goggles.
Throughout the last 43 years members of the North West Raptor Group have self-funded their work.
If the killing of Peregrines continues, they will be lost forever, not only from the Forest of Bowland but also from the rest of England's northern uplands, where Red Grouse are shot for sport.
On an unusually warm sunny morning at the beginning of April two members of the North West Raptor Protection Group were watching a male Hen Harrier at a well known breeding territory in the Forest of Bowland on moorland owned by United Utilities. Conducting their meticulous observations from an elevated position overlooking a potential territory the Harrier suddenly disappeared. A shepherd calling loudly inducing his flock of sheep to follow him appeared on the scene driving a four wheeled quad bike onto the moor crossing the Hen Harrier’s territory. As the male Hen Harrier had not started to breed the shepherds activity was not illegal, however his actions witness by an RSPB officer was perhaps irresponsible at such a critical location where Hen Harriers had established their nests in successive years.
What happened next came as a surprise summing up graphically the bad politics at play in Bowland.
Making their way back down the established vehicle track over the heather covered hill located half a mile from where the male Harrier had been observed quartering the valley below, the two raptor workers were spoken to by the same official who earlier had witnessed the shepherd crossing the moor. The man was concerned that both NWRPG members had been sitting in heather suitable for breeding Hen Harriers. What this individual failed to appreciate before making his remark, at least 60% of heather cover throughout Bowland is suitable for breeding Hen Harriers, however due to the Hen Harriers continued persecution throughout the Forest of Bowland there are very few Harriers left to occupy or breed upon such moorland habitat, suitable for breeding or not.
How can anyone with a responsibility for protecting raptors in Bowland, object to where someone was sitting watching a Harrier from a safe distance? Then curiously on the other hand completely ignore a man made situation directly preventing Peregrines from returning to a breeding territory as depicted in this video?
4 Peregrine Chicks 2009
4 healthy peregrine chicks 2009. Image captured by Terry Pickford at the same eyrie as depicted in the video above.
Terry ringing peregrine
Terry Pickford ringing one of the 4 peregrine chicks in 2009 at the same eyrie as depicted in the video above.
Watch the video attached, and ask yourself why no one made any objection to United Utilities about the installation of the water monitoring stations or the erection of a crow trap just 100 metres distance from a historic Peregrine nesting cliff ensuring no Peregrines would return to breed at this site in the future?
In October of 2007 the late Duke of Westminster hosted a Hen Hen Harrier meeting at his Forest of Bowland Abbeystead estate. During the meeting, the Duke and the then United Utilities estate manager had a disagreement on how best to manage the UU Bowland estate. In essence what the former Bowland estate manager told the Duke on the day was this. “As long as I am in charge I have no intention of returning gamekeepers onto the United Utilities estate in Bowland, because if this happened Hen Harrier would disappear within 6 – 12 months, as estate manager I have a statutory duty to ensure this does not happen.”
3 October Abbeystead Hen Harrier Meeting. The late Duke of Westminster second left and Ian Grindy far right
In hindsight Ian Grindy, the then UU estate manager was correct. However, what no one expected was that Peregrines nesting on the estate at that time would also begin to disappear after the company had over-ruled their estate manager, returning not only gamekeepers, but also syndicate shoots to all parts of their Bowland estates. As of this year we can stipulate with a reasonable degree of accuracy, ten former peregrine territories that existed on the United Utilities estates in the Forest of Bowland are now abandoned.
United Utilities have a clear statutory responsibility for the protection and well being of wildlife on the moorlands in Lancashire they own and manage. Resulting from the disappearance of both Hen Harriers and Peregrines from their Bowland estate demonstrates this legal responsibility is not being upheld.
The detail and Video attached highlights what is taking place in the Forest of Bowland to our so called 'protected' raptors. We need your support to bring an end to the carnage. Please donate to our campaign, if you can your support will be appreciated.
On Saturday 22nd April Terry Pickford visited 4 abandoned territorial Peregrine nesting sites on the United Utilities estate in the Forest of Bowland. The results of what was found at the third site visited on Saturday are depicted in the attached video, with an overall update of this seasons breeding activity in the Forest of Bowland below.
Of the eleven historical nesting territories so far examined this spring, each located on moorland in Bowland owned by United Utilities, nine of these territories tragically remain abandoned with little hope of ever being reoccupied.
As far as we are aware only two Peregrine territories located on the United Utilities Bowland estate are occupied by Peregrines this season. An additional third site on private property elsewhere in the Forest of Bowland is confirmed occupied as off last Friday. At one additional Peregrine territory, known to have been abandoned for throughout the last nine years, a single female was seen two weeks ago. No up to date information is so far available.
The historic nesting site featured in this video was the third territory examined last Saturday by Terry. The fourth and last territory visited on Saturday will feature in a further hard hitting video towards the end of this week. You will be astounded at what Terry found and the kind of subtleties being adopted by estate landowners and their gamekeepers to prevent Peregrines breeding within this and many other territory throughout the Forest of Bowland.
The first incident was reported after one keeper was interrupted by Terry and a colleague coming away from the first occupied territory after causing disturbance.
The second incident also reported to United Utilities, involved a visit by Terry to ring 4 large Peregrine chicks contained in a ground nesting site on the UU estate.
The ground nest showing 3 hatched chicks and one chick hatching three weeks prior to ringing in the company of estate gamekeeper. Image attached.
Approval to ring the chicks was provided by the company on the proviso that an estate gamekeeper would accompany the visit to the nest. On seeing the chicks in the nest, the gamekeeper was surprised, informing Terry that he had been unaware of the nests existence until that day.
Two days later Terry returned with a second member of the North West Raptor Protection Group to make sure the chicks where still alive. However when the nest was examined each of the chicks had vanished from the nest. As the chicks could not fly and both adult falcons were also missing, it was obvious to Terry someone had removed the chicks and possibly killed both adult Peregrines.
Please share and donate to our campaign to save the peregrine from extinction throughout the Forest of Bowland.
In his latest video Terry Pickford’s highlights two effective but legal management strategies introduced on grouse moor estates in northern England designed to unsettle peregrines and hen harriers, preventing these species from settling to breed on moorland where red grouse are shot.
Terry begins describing what he found at one of two historic Bowland peregrine sites which had been located within the same valley in 2009. (see ground nest below containing 4 peregrine chicks ) At the first site a nesting ledge had been positioned a few feet above a moorland stream on the side of a twenty foot high heather bluff. Below the bluff estate gamekeepers had installed a funnel trap on top of a poll spanning the stream to control vermin, which under normal conditions the gamekeeper would visit each 24 hour period (not an ideal situation at any location where peregrines are known to regularly breed). Terry found evidence at the second trap located 100 yards higher up the stream containing a dead rat, the condition of the rat in the trap indicating the trap had not been checked for at least two or three weeks. It is a legal requirement that such traps when set must be checked each day within a 24 hour period; clearly an offence had been committed because the second trap had not been checked for at least two weeks. As pointed out by Terry in his commentary, there is no one making sure the law is adhered to on these moorland landscapes, but he was sure where such methodologies were being used on red grouse moors the raptor (protected or not ) would not be allowed to return to breed anytime in the future.
At the third and final funnel trap examined, Terry Pickford points to a location several hundred yards higher up the stream bed on the right hand side where in 2009 he had found the last recorded ground nesting peregrine site within this valley containing 4 chicks.
Peregrine Ground Nest containing 4 chicks (last chick still in shell) in the same valley where traps located, now territory burnt out
It was obvious that the patch of heather where the nest had been positioned seven years earlier had recently been completely burnt out, leaving a black patch of charred heather at least two hundred yards across. Yet another example Terry explains of how estate gamekeepers deter protected raptors from settling to breed on the moorland they manage. Why Terry asks is it down the the North West Raptor Protection Group to highlight such irresponsible and damaging moorland management practices that disadvantage species like peregrine and hen harrier?
Terry Pickford examining one of Bowlands many abandoned peregrine territories which he claims are unlikely to be reoccupied in his lifetime