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Queensberry Estate response to illegal raptor shooting

Annie the hen harrier Credit: John Wright

Following the discovery of the body of a hen harrier, Queensberry Estate has issued the following statement.

A spokesman for the estate said:

We have been advised by Police Scotland today that a hen harrier was located on the boundary of the Queensberry Estate in April.

We had no knowledge of this incident until today and stressed to the police that we are wholly committed to assisting in any way to establishing what happened to this bird.

We are deeply concerned and mystified by this incident as Queensberry Estate condemns any form of wildlife crime and are very proud of the species and habitat conservation work we undertake.

We are aware of several hen harrier nesting sites on the estate and our keepers have been actively working to protect these birds in their habitat.”

– Queensberry Estate

Appeal after rare raptor shot dead

Young female harrier Annie Credit: John Wright

RSPB Scotland have today issued an appeal for information after post mortem results confirmed that a hen harrier found dead on a grouse moor in south-west Scotland in late April had been illegally shot.

The young female harrier, named “Annie” had been fitted with a satellite transmitter as a chick in the nest as part of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. Scientists monitoring the bird became concerned in mid March 2015, when data confirmed that the bird had stopped moving.

After extensive searching the RSPB recovered the body of the bird at the end of April and submitted it to the SAC Veterinary Centre laboratory near Edinburgh. Results received in the last few days now confirm that the bird was shot.

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said:

This case shows very clearly what happens to some of our hen harriers when they leave protected nesting areas and move around the UK’s uplands.

This is just the latest incident of criminal persecution of this species, following the confirmed shooting of birds in Aberdeenshire, Moray and Ayrshire in the last two years. It is little wonder these magnificent raptors continue to be absent from large areas of our uplands."

– Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland
Young female harrier Annie Credit: RSPB Scotland

The hen harrier is one of the UK’s most threatened raptor species and declined by 20 per cent in the period 2004 to 2010. Very few pairs now nest on areas managed for driven grouse.

RSPB Scotland urges anyone with information that will help identify the perpetrator of this crime to contact Police Scotland by dialling 101 as soon as possible.

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Big Garden Bird Watch takes flight

People are invited to count the birds in their gardens. Credit: ITV Border

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is asking people from Cumbria and the South of Scotland to get involved in this year's Big Garden Bird Watch.

The survey takes place this weekend and requires people to spend an hour counting birds in their garden.

Around half a million people took part last year, counting more than seven million birds.

You can get involved, and see how many birds have been counted so far, here.

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Starlings on pylon could serve 'social function'

Our cameras captured thousands of starlings on an electricity pylon in Workington.

A spokesperson for the RSPB said a lot about starlings and their activity is still a bit of a mystery, but resting on the pylon before they go to roost probably serves some sort of social function and is part of their daily routine before they settle down for the night.

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