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Judge dismisses RSPB 'unlawful cull' bid

Seagulls flock over snowy ground in the Scottish Borders. Credit: PA Images

Plans for the culling of thousands of seagulls have been upheld by the High Court.

A judge dismissed claims by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) that the Government-sanctioned cull is unlawful and will set a dangerous precedent for bird conservation in the UK.

Mr Justice Mitting, sitting in London, ruled the claims "unfounded", dismissed the RSPB's application for judicial review and ordered it to pay £10,000 in legal costs.

The Environment Secretary sanctioned the cull in the Ribble Estuary on the Lancashire coast at the request of aerospace firm BAE Systems.

RSPB 'inundated' with calls over bird of prey poisonings

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.

Sixteen raptors have been killed in the Highlands Credit: RSPB

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


Turtle dove numbers may have hit new low

Numbers of England's most threatened farmland bird may have plunged to new lows due to last year's washout summer, the RSPB has warned.

The conservation group said recorded sightings of turtle doves are significantly down this year and this summer's population is likely to be lower than ever.

Conservationists warn the number of turtle doves may have plunged to new lows. Credit: RSPB/PA Wire

Official figures show that turtle doves have suffered declines of 80 percent in the countryside since 1995.

Turtle doves were once widespread in southern Britain, but the population is now estimated at just 14,000 pairs - less than a tenth of the number in 1970.


Staff at inland nature reserve 'relaxed' about seal's arrival

Staff at an RSPB nature reserve in Cambridgeshire have said they are "relaxed" about the arrival of a seal which is believed to have swam 50 miles inland through floodwater.

It is perfectly happy in the lake with plenty of food to sustain it.

It is not a threat to any other wildlife and hopefully it will find its way out the same way it came in.

– Graham Elliott, RSPB

Two men convicted of stealing birds' eggs

Some of the wild birds' eggs stolen by Marcus Betteridge and Seymour Crang Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Two men have been convicted of stealing rare birds' eggs from nests in Devon and Cornwall.

Marcus Betteridge and Seymour Crang admitted stealing the eggs of the Dartford warbler.

Both men were fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £200 costs.

For more on the two year police investigation into their crimes visit ITV Westcountry.

Swifts suffer 'disastrous' breeding season due to weather

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.

Wet weather has caused a 'disastrous' breeding season for the swift. Credit: Reuters

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.