A Scottish charity has been “inundated” with calls from members of the public over the illegal killing of 16 birds of prey in the Highlands, as the reward for information about the deaths has reached £10,000.
At least some of the dead raptors - 12 red kites and four buzzards - found dead in the Conon Bridge area of Ross-shire in the last two weeks had been poisoned, STV reported.
A police investigation into the killings is now underway and a £5,000 reward put up by RSPB Scotland for information about the killings leading to conviction has been doubled by an anonymous donor.
Duncan Orr-Ewing, of RSPB Scotland, said: “Our staff have been inundated with calls from concerned members of the public voicing their personal anger and frustration about this appalling incident and calling for firm action by the authorities against the perpetrators.
“Many people have said they would like to contribute financially to the reward already on offer.”
The charity has set up a webpage where members of the public can contribute to the reward. If the cash goes unclaimed, it will be used to help fund future RSPB Scotland wildlife crime investigations
The arrival of warm, sunny conditions has come too late to help one of the UK's most well-known summer birds, the swift, which has been hit by this year's miserable weather.
Flocks of swifts are already starting to head back to Africa, where they spend the winter, following a "disastrous" breeding season, conservationists said.
The wettest April to June on record have meant fewer flying insects for swifts and their chicks to eat, leaving the birds struggling to rear their young.
Adults have even been pushing eggs out of their nests because a lack of food has meant they have not been able to feed themselves, as well as incubate eggs and feed chicks.
The RSPB has said the poor weather in spring was "the last thing" the species needed.The birds have been struggling in recent years, with numbers falling by almost a third between 1995 and 2009, and conservationists say they expect to see falls in the breeding figures for this year.