Is This Raptor Justice?


Honey Bee on Himalayan Balsam

Raptor Persecution

I was hoping I might not have to mention raptor persecution again but I’m afraid I have some rather distressing news from Widdle Fell. The RSPB tells us that three illegal pole traps were found on a grouse shooting estate inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Pole traps were outlawed in 1904 and consist of a metal spring trap placed on an exposed post in order to target birds of prey. When triggered they snap shut with considerable force, crushing the legs of the bird. Trapped birds remain present until they succumb to their injuries or are killed by the trap operator. Particularly concerning was that a hen harrier had been sighted the same morning hunting on the fell a short distance away. Bob Elliot, Head of RSPB Investigations, said: “These are dreadful barbaric devices and have no place in the 21st century. North Yorkshire has long held the unenviable reputation of the worst county in England for raptor persecution. The sighting of a Hen Harrier in the immediate area is of particular concern. This species is nearly extinct as a breeding species in England and it last bred successfully in North Yorkshire in 2007 despite huge areas of suitable habitat. Earlier this year Defra launched its Hen Harrier Action Plan, which has been supported by shooting organisations. Yet again, we have seen that there appears to be little sign that birds of prey will be tolerated in our uplands.” The case went to court and according to North Yorkshire Police, “The persecution of birds of prey is a UK wildlife crime priority, and the successful conviction in this case demonstrates the tenacity and strong working relationship that exists between North Yorkshire Police, the RSPB and other rural partners.” The court case, I presume Magistrates Court but may be wrong, decided that the best course of action was to give the perpetrator an adult caution. There’s North Yorkshire Justice for you. In case you are sufficiently incensed may I provide the contact details of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan. I believe you can ‘Hold the Commissioner To Account by phoning 101 or email her at Let me Know What You Think. David Beeken tells me, “There are 30 breeding pairs of Hen Harriers on Arran; the island has an area of 432 sq.k. The Yorkshire Dales National Park has an area of 1762 sq.k., four times the size of Arran. How many breeding pairs in the National Park? You all know the answer. This is why. For many crimes and misdemeanours the sentences are meant to act as a deterrent to others; why does this not apply to the grouse moor owners? At least in Scotland the landowner is vicariously liable.”

Jennyruth Workshop

Jennyruth is “A productive workshop where adults with learning disabilities gain confidence, work and life skills.” You might find their latest newsletter interesting. The guys there have been getting involved with wildlife in a big way. Laney Birkhead, artist and beekeeper, visited as part of their bee project. Laney has been doing an art installation called ‘Swarm’, about Bees. She is also a beekeeper and helping to let people know that Bees need our help because their population is declining. A bird project has also been undertaken and a goosander nestbox was built. These smashing saw-billed ducks nest in tree holes and one was delivered and erected at High Batts Nature Reserve. Visit High Batt’s Open Day on 3 July when you may be able to see it. More about High Batts Open Day in the next blog, but why not make a note in your diary now, it’s always great with pond dipping, guided walks, displays of bats and moths plus bird ringing interest for all the family, as they say. Anyway back to Jennyruth, a final project mentioned in the newsletter is the hedgehog project and a hedgehog box was built and Krista, founder of the Wildlife Haven Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Thirsk, talked about hedgehogs to the Business Studies Group. Explore their website and learn more. You can also buy wildlife products such as nest-boxes, bird tables, hedgehog boxes and much more from Jennyruth.

Swarm – Laney Birkhead

Laney warmly welcomes everyone to her Swarm of Bees Exhibition at Danby’s ‘Inspired by Gallery’ this summer. Danby is The North York Moors National Park Centre and the Gallery hosts changing exhibitions of work by artists who draw their inspiration from the landscape, life and colour of the North York Moors. Laney’s exhibition is of print making and Laney has been overwhelmed by the support she has received, resulting in a 3D installation, which you can walk inside. It’s a calico printed beehive and inside you will experience being surrounded by 50,000 bees! Hundreds of people have taken part over the last year, to help raise awareness of bee decline and what can be done to help them. Laney tells us, “It has been an amazing experience working around Yorkshire combining my two passions printmaking and beekeeping.” The installation will be complemented by the work of ten artists and craft makers and two film makers, all showing new work inspired by bees and their importance to our ecology. Visit the Swarm of Bees Exhibition for more details and make a note in your diary to visit Danby between Friday, 22 July and Tuesday, 9 August 2016 or visit ‘Meet the Artists Day’ on Saturday, 23 July 12 noon – 3 pm. Please support these folk who do so much to help our wildlife. It’s said that without bees we die!

Kingfisher Male Bringing Fish  - Barry Carter

Kingfisher Male Bringing Fish – Barry Carter

Your Sightings

Judi Needham-Crane reports, “We saw a Kingfisher at Hay a Park lake yesterday (Knaresborough) – I’ve been walking there for 10 years or so and that was the first time I’ve seen one!”

Jon Burge writes, “A couple of weeks ago I heard in Dacre Banks the unmistakeable call of Swifts, but none were to be seen flying around. I finally spotted under the eaves of the north facing side of a house some swift boxes, from which the sounds came. I was going to contact the owner to find out how these are constructed. Thankfully, your articles provided the information. I will construct some and install them by next spring.” Thanks Jon, great news, can other folk also do this please for details visit Swift Conservation.

Claire Yarborough tells me, “We’ve had a camera in one of our nest boxes for at least three years, but nothing has shown any interest in moving in. We were very excited when some nesting material began to appear around 22 April and we watched to find out who our new neighbour was. Tree sparrows! We watched every day, but managed to miss the eggs altogether, which must have been buried under feathers and grass. On 11 May we saw five tiny chicks and parent activity and hours of watching time increased. There are now (24 May) three healthy, hungry chicks, quite well feathered and beginning to exercise their wings. I’m hoping they will fledge this week. Let’s hope this is the first of many years of occupation. It’s certainly more interesting than watching telly.”

Dunnock Nest - Dennis Skinner

Dunnock Nest – Dennis Skinner

Doug Simpson has “recently had a Dunnock, normally a ground-feeder, which has been trying to buck up courage to sample the sunflower hearts in one of my bird feeders. It’s usually been unsuccessful, but yesterday (Wednesday) it finally made it. It grabbed a couple of seeds and flew off. Not seen it back yet, but then I’m not always watching. It would be a good thing if more of them would adapt to bird feeders, so keeping them off the ground where they are vulnerable to cats.”

Carol Moore has some “very exciting news! We have regular sightings of a Heron visiting our pond. Yesterday I commented that I hadn’t seen it recently. Low and behold this morning at 9.25am one circled a number of times and landed by the pond. We didn’t see it fly off. However, at 12.12 we saw not one but two take off from the pond and fly south of Padside Beck into tall trees west of Thornthwaite. How wonderful it would be if a nesting pair were relocating to this area. Has anyone else seen a pair recently between St Saviours Church and Thornthwaite?

Sheila Brown, you may recall, had tadpoles and fish in the same pond, well, “Just to let you know that I split the frog spawn and the fish into two separate ponds as you suggested, all the tadpoles are doing very well, there must be around 1000 of them, some are just getting their back legs, in the same pond we have newts who enjoy eating the odd tadpole. I am feeding the tadpoles flaked goldfish food and they love it, all the natural green algae that sticks to the sides of the pond has all been eaten away. Just waiting to spot some baby newts, any idea when that is likely to be? The goldfish in the new pond are also looking like they could be ready to breed; on the strength of that I have suspended a mop head in the water for the fish fry to hide in – I have noticed from past experience that the adult goldfish do eat their own kind.” I reckon young newts should be around now, look for small fish-like animals. Thanks to Shelia for helping the tadpoles, another creature needing our help. If only folk were like Shelia and not like the folk who put pole traps up?

Nosterfield Nature Reserve recent sightings include two barnacle geese and a short-eared owl. Also yellow wagtail, hobby and two little egret, Flask.


See website for full details of these events and to confirm no changes.

Jacob Smith Park Knaresborough, is organising a Balsam Bash on Saturday, 25 June from 10am. Bring a drink, wear long sleeves and most importantly bring gloves. Everyone welcome.

Nidderdale Bird Club

Monday, 20 June(Evening) Stainburn Forest

Harrogate and District Naturalists’ Society

Thursday, 23 June 10:00 – 14:00 Flora and fauna of Scotton Banks and Nidd Gorge