Warning: Below there is a graphic image of the shot bird in this article

The RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward in appeal for information on shooting of rare red-footed falcon in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

The protected bird of prey was found dead near Whittlesey last month. A post-mortem examination confirmed the bird, a young male, had been recently shot and that this was the cause of death.

Cambridgeshire Police, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the RSPB are appealing for anyone with information to come forward. The Bedfordshire-based wildlife charity is offering a reward of £1,000 for information about the shooting.

"It’s awful that this rare bird has been needlessly and cowardly shot in the county.

Alun Bradshaw, Cambridgeshire Constabulary Wildlife Crime Officer

Red-footed falcons are rare visitors to the UK from the nearest breeding population in Eastern Europe, from where they migrate to Sub-Saharan Africa to spend the winter.

They are listed as "Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species.

"The death of this beautiful and rare bird is sickening, it has spent nearly three months touring the UK and delighting thousands of people only to be shot dead in Cambridgeshire.’

Mark Thomas, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer
The protected bird of prey was found dead near Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire in October. Credit: RSPB

RSPB experts have confirmed that the dead falcon is the same one that birdwatchers and nature lovers in the Midlands and East of England had delighted in seeing since it was first spotted in Stoke, Staffordshire in July.