Saturday, 12 October 2013

Gloom and Doom . . .

Autumn can be the most beautiful and inspiring of seasons, but at the moment with summer still fresh in mind and the dragonfly season all but ended it's just gloomy and depressing

Matters made worse by the 2013 breeding figures for the local red kites. It doesn't make for good reading with only 18 known fledglings from 27 nesting attempts and all but two of the nests were in the core area of the lower derwent valley. A disappointing return for all concerned.

Two nests are known to have failed through predation, with close-by nesting crows the main suspects, and probably guilty in more cases given the number of corvids in and around the valley. But that's nature, whereas the reasons behind the non-spreading out from the core area may be altogether more sinister.

I've been in conversation with the publicity officer of FoRK (Friends of Red Kites) over the last few days, she mentioned that there is a kite from Central Scotland on our patch at the moment and I said I'd keep an eye out for it as I had a similar visitor from the Black Isle over the garden last year, a first year juv.
She informed me that sadly that bird was found dead on the moors near Muggleswick earlier this year, poisoned along with another of our own kites nearby. I hadn't heard this (I couldn't even find mention of it on the FoRK website) and was shocked this should happen so relatively close to home.

It beggars belief, a young bird makes its way here from the north of Scotland only for its life to be ended through archaic attitudes and human greed. Now I understand the grouse moors are an important habitat for many other birds and animals which otherwise would struggle to survive in any other environment, but intolerant landowners seem to be above the law. The few corpses that are found are most likely just the tip of the iceberg.
Any kite venturing up to Northumberland has received the same welcome; in the very first year WT10 'Flash' became the first (known) victim of the moors murderers, and just lately a pair were poisoned during the breeding season, resulting in their chicks starving to death on the nest. Gawd only knows how many more have been 'lost' up there and remain unaccounted for.

I'd also been talking to a Far Pasture regular who also gets up to Muggleswick and Derwent Reservoir a lot. He tells me that (allegedly) the gamekeepers there run around on quadbikes in the spring, blasting anything that resembles a buzzard nest (or kite nest?) out of the trees with shotguns. Whether this is true or not I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was.
Same bloke had a hen harrier in the area about four weeks back. Hasn't seen it since so hopefully it was just passing through.
But in my opinion therein lies the answer to why our kites haven't spread beyond local boundaries, and why so many go missing without trace. Vast areas of moorland just to the north, south and west amounting to no more than miles and miles of avian minefield.

Next year is the tenth anniversary of the first release of the Northern Kites, a big celebration is planned. Might be a good idea to take advantage of the publicity this will receive by naming and shaming the people who's land has been involved in poisoning our kites over this period.

I've ranted enough; I sign the petitions and I pays my money to the RSPB in the hope that one day things might change. Instead it just seems to get worse. Ranting is all I can do. It pisses me off.     


  1. "A nation of animal lovers" ?? I don't think so, unless you take cats and dogs into consideration. Just look around the planet at the death caused by humans to all manor of creatures. I'm afraid that only a small percentage of us humans are humane. The majority couldn't give a damn. Greed rules and woe betide any poor creature that interferes in any way. It sickens me.

  2. Dunno about cats and dogs either John, I'm sure the RSPCA could give you a long list of examples of neglect and cruelty. There's good guys and bad guys and (like you say) there's a lot of folk who just don't give a shit.