Scottish Raptor Study Group

Monitoring and conserving Scotland's birds of prey

News April 2014

Red Kites set up home in Nairnshire for the first time in over 200 years
30th April 2014
A pair of red kites is attempting to breed in Nairnshire for the first time in over 200 years. The pair have built a nest close to Cawdor Castle; this is believed to be the first breeding attempt in the county since the early 1800s. This is very welcome news following the devastating loss of at least 16 red kites in the recent Ross-shire Massacre. Inverness Courier here.

SRSG welcomes parliamentary questions about raptor persecution
29th April 2014
The Scottish Raptor Study Group is delighted that a series of parliamentary questions have been raised by two MSPs in relation to the current raptor persecution incidents reported from across Scotland. Liam McArthur MSP has asked questions about the alleged police response to the recently reported poisoned peregrine found in South Lanarkshire, and Claire Baker MSP has asked questions about what further measures the Scottish Government will introduce to tackle the on-going crimes against birds of prey. We look forward to the Minister's responses.

Conon Bridge death toll increases again - 22 raptors now confirmed dead
28th April 2014
The death toll in the Ross-shire Massacre has increased again as the police confirm the discovery of two more dead birds. The current number now stands at 16 red kites and 6 buzzards. Tests have so far shown that 12 of the birds were poisoned; the other bodies are still being examined. Inverness Courier here.

Police search North Glenbuchat Estate in Aberdeenshire following the 'disappearance' of young white-tailed eagle
24th April 2014
Police have conducted a search on an estate following the 'disappearance' of the first white-tailed eagle to be raised in East Scotland in 200 years. The young bird was being satellite-tracked and its last known signal came from the North Glenbuchat Estate in the Cairngorms National Park. This area of Strathdon is a prominent grouse moor area where several young satellite-tracked eagles have disappeared in recent years. In 2011, the body of a young golden eagle was found there having being poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran. The Scottish Raptor Study Group is disgusted that yet another young eagle has 'disappeared' (presumed to be dead) in an area managed for driven grouse shooting and we urge the Scottish Government to introduce further measures to address the appalling and on-going persecution of these iconic birds. BBC news here.

Police investigate after peregrine found shot dead at quarry near Stirling
23rd April 2014
The police have launched a criminal investigation after a peregrine was found shot dead at Cambusbarron Quarry near Stirling on 15th April. The dead bird was discovered by a local Raptor Study Group fieldworker carrying out routine monitoring at the site. Courier article here.

Scottish wildlife forensics team examines dead raptors
22nd April 2014
A behind-the-scenes view at the specialist toxicology laboratory where scientists examine dead birds of prey to identify the poisons responsible for their deaths, including the birds found in the recent mass poisoning in Ross-shire - see here.

Conon Bridge farmer says local farmers 'have nothing to hide'
18th April 2014
A farmer whose properties have been searched as part of the criminal investigation into the mass poisoning of raptors in Ross-shire has given an interview to the BBC. Ewan MacDonald said he and the local farming community 'had nothing to hide'. Police have conducted searches at Mr MacDonald's three farms and his home and found nothing to link him to the birds' deaths. BBC news here.

Conon Bridge death toll rises to 20 as police thank the public for their help and patience
17th April 2014
The police have thanked the public for assistance and patience as their criminal investigation into the mass poisoning of raptors in Ross-shire continues. The current death toll has risen to 20 birds (14 red kites and six buzzards). Police press statement here.

Police called to Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire as men scare opsreys from nest
15th April 2014
Police were called to the Loch of the Lowes nature reserve in Perthshire on Sunday after two men entered an off-limits area and temporarily scared the breeding ospreys from their nest. The two men were escorted from the reserve and given a police warning. News here and here.

Osprey 'Lady' lays 69th egg at Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire
14th April 2014
'Lady', the 'celebrity' osprey at Loch of the Lowes nature reserve in Perthshire has laid her 69th egg, according to reserve staff from the Scottish Wildlife Trust. This is Lady's 24th consecutive breeding season at the reserve, where she has successfully reared 50 chicks. BBC story here. You can follow the Loch of the Lowes blog here for regular updates, and watch their Osprey Webcam here.

Public protest in Inverness about the Conon Bridge raptor poisonings
12th April 2014
A public protest was held in Inverness town centre today following the recent mass poisoning of red kites and buzzards near Conon Bridge. Protesters carried cardboard silhouettes of the birds, described as 'ghost raptors' and held a rally in the High Street. News coverage herehere and here.

Man arrested after investigation into alleged raptor trapping in Aberdeenshire
10th April 2014
A man has been arrested and reported to the Procurator Fiscal following an investigation in to the alleged attempted trapping of birds of prey on Deeside. No further details have been released.

Conon Bridge raptor massacre: death toll reaches 19 as reward for information rises to £26,000.
9th April 2014
The number of dead raptors found in the Conon Bridge area has risen to 19 (14 red kites and five buzzards). The reward for information has been boosted to £26,000 after a group of local farmers and landowners pledged £12,000 for in formation leading to a successful conviction (article in the Guardian here). If you'd like to make a donation please visit the donations page here. Public outrage at this atrocity has led to a planned demonstration in Inverness town centre this Saturday.

Conon Bridge raptor massacre: death toll reaches 18
8th April 2014
According to the BBC, the number of dead raptors found in the Conon Bridge area over the last few weeks has now risen again to a disgraceful 18 dead birds. These include 13 red kites and five buzzards. At least six of the birds have been confirmed as being poisoned. We await the results of tests on the other bodies but poisoning is suspected for all of them. Members of the public have so far donated nearly £4,000 to the reward fund, adding to the £5,000 offered by RSPB Scotland and the £5,000 given by an anonymous donor.

SRSG deeply concerned about police failure to attend a suspected poisoning incident
7th April 2014
The Scottish Raptor Study Group is deeply concerned about the reported failure of both Police Scotland and the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) to attend the scene of a suspected raptor poisoning incident in South Lanarkshire.
According to the Raptor Persecution Scotland website, a member of the public found a dead peregrine in suspicious circumstances close to the boundary of Leadhills Estate, near Abington, in February. The finder immediately called the police but was told it was not a police matter. The RSPB was then called, and they contacted the NWCU to ask for a police presence at the scene. PC Charles Everitt of NWCU is alleged to have told the RSPB that it wasn’t a police matter as there was no evidence of a crime.
The RSPB attended the scene and collected the dead bird. Government tests later showed it had been poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran.
Ronnie Graham, one of a number of local Raptor Study Group fieldworkers who monitor raptor breeding success in the area said: “I’m absolutely appalled. Raptor persecution in this particular area has been ongoing for decades. Over the years, countless poisoned baits have been found here and only last year a large cache of Carbofuran-laced baits was discovered very close to where this dead peregrine was found. Poisoning should have been immediately suspected in this incident and the area should have been flooded with officers looking for baits. My colleagues and I would like to know why Police Scotland and the NWCU didn’t think this was a police matter – we were under the impression that wildlife crime was supposed to be a police priority”.
The SRSG will be asking Police Scotland and the NWCU for an explanation about the failed police response to this serious crime.

Members of the public invited to donate to Conon Bridge raptor massacre reward fund
4th April 2014
RSPB Scotland has set up a donation website where members of the public can donate in support of the Ross-shire mass poisoning reward fund. It was set up after the RSPB said it had been inundated with calls from people desperate to help. RSPB press release here. If you'd like to donate to the fund, please click here.

Conon Bridge raptor massacre: reward increased to £10,000
3rd April 2014
A 'deeply concerned' member of the public has donated £5,000 to the reward for information about the mass poisoning of red kites and buzzards in Ross-shire. Added to the £5,000 already being offered by RSPB Scotland, it is hoped that the £10,000 will encourage anyone who knows about this atrocity to come forward and speak to the police. Further information about this disgraceful crime, and the history of red kite poisoning in the Black Isle, can be read here.

"The worst two weeks of my life", says RSPB Scotland's Red Kite Officer
2nd April 2014
We are all devastated for SRSG member Brian Etheridge, the man who has monitored red kites in the Black Isle for almost twenty years and is now having to pick up the bodies of those same birds, now feared poisoned in one of the worst raptor persecution incidents in Scotland for many years. Click here to read what Brian had to say.

Conon Bridge raptor death toll rises to 16
1st April 2014
In what looks increasingly like a mass poisoning incident, the number of dead raptors recovered from the Conon Bridge area has now increased to 16, including 12 red kites and four buzzards. These deaths will have a devastating impact on the Black Isle red kite population; a population already known to be constrained by illegal persecution.


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