Featured

Hen Harrier Day

Photo – Peter Howe

August is upon us and Hen Harrier Days are back 🙂
Don’t miss the two online events mentioned below!


On Sunday August 1st at 10am, there will be a free online Hen Harrier Day event. Organised by Hen Harrier Action, the event will be hosted by The Urban Birder – David Lindo. He will host alongside Lauren Cook, whom many will know as the creator of wonderful animations used on previous events. see here

On Saturday August 7th at 10am, there is another online Hen Harrier Day event by Wild Justice, this will be hosted by Chris Packham & Megan McCubbin.
This is also a free event, if you register your interest – click here – you will be kept updated on who you will see, and what you will hear.

Two events, that I know for sure, will be both amazing in content and entertainment value. Each produced in their own unique way that will make it easy to understand, with information that will show you how you can get involved to help protect our magnificent Birds of Prey.

Prior to 2020 these events had always been ‘live’ events in fields, nature reserves, towns, valleys & at reservoirs etc. But with the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, as with many, many other events, Hen Harrier Day was forced to switch to an online event, these events have proved very popular, and seem to have become the norm. It remains to be seen if these online events will continue in the future as we start to rid ourselves of this awful pandemic, whenever that might be?

While you are here, please take 10 minutes to look over my website.
Project CamTag is aiming to enhance current satellite tags. The intention is to introduce new technology in the form of a camera and also to be able to obtain more accurate 24/7 locational pin-pointing, among other things.

Wouldn’t you just love to help fund something that would do a better job than what we have at present? New technology is notoriously difficult to fund – PROJECT CamTag is trying to push the boundaries and advance new methods. PROJECT CamTag needs your help, please consider giving a small donation to help us reach our target. You can DONATE here
Thank-You

Featured

(ICYMI) – A Tale of Two Eggs – An Easter Blog

With Easter a stones throw away, I thought I would do some scouring of the internet to see how much is actually spent on Easter eggs. In 2019 this was around £340m which is 80 million eggs (finder.com). WOW that’s an awful lot of eggs! Research suggests that children consume on average 8 eggs each over 4 days totalling around 8000 calories.(GWP Group)

PROJECT CamTag® is the reason why I wanted to explore this. This is a project to develop a camera satellite tag to obtain photographic evidence associated with the illegal killing of Birds of Prey, which may help lead to future convictions.

Can you assist PROJECT CamTag further and help spread this message far and wide around the country by donating today?

What does this have to do with Easter eggs? Actually nothing! I just wanted to see if readers of this blog can spare a couple of minutes and give some thought to the UK’s Birds of Prey over this Easter weekend.
PROJECT CamTag® is funded by people like you, people who care about our wildlife. To start the project’s Feasibility Study I need to raise £12,000. To reach this target, I need the public’s support, YOUR support to raise the remaining £10,465. This amount equates to just 0.00308% of the UK’s whole spend on Easter eggs in 2019 of £340m!!
It’s a big ask, but with your help it’s possible. No matter how small your donation, it truly will make a difference. The sooner the target can be reached, the sooner we can start helping our Birds of Prey.

“This REAL nest site image, was the result of intentional illegal disturbance, where it is known it had been interfered with.”

Chocolate Easter eggs
On avg. children receive 8 Easter eggs
Failed Peregrine Falcon nest due to illegal disturbance
Image courtesy of Terry Pickford

Can you guess where this is leading?
Do children really need 8 Easter eggs? Now I don’t want to be a killjoy, and maybe I had too many Easter eggs given to me as a child, but when I had my own family, I encouraged friends and family to give my children an alternative gift. I’m not saying that now I wouldn’t like an Easter egg, because I would, but I only need one!

This is where I start getting serious, sad and angry, all at the same time. Look at the two pictures above. On the left, a picture of chocolate eggs that I placed in some straw that I took from my chicken shed, and on the right some real eggs, but not chicken eggs! These real eggs belong to a Peregrine Falcon. This REAL nest site image, was a result of intentional illegal disturbance, where it is known it had been interfered with.

  • 80m Easter eggs sold in the UK, equates to approx. £4.25 per egg.
  • Children on average receive 8 Easter eggs each, this is a spend per child of approx. £34

Based on the figures above I have a request to make, especially if you are a parent, grandparent or family member of a child you intend buying Easter eggs for. How about using this blog as an opportunity to educate the younger members of your family about what is happening to our Birds of Prey in the UK. Many children are now discussing this in the classroom, and are becoming extremely knowledgeable already about the persecution taking place around the UK.
Maybe instead of another egg they might like you to donate the average Easter egg price of £4.25 to PROJECT CamTag?

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) These chicks were saved just in time. This & top image courtesy of Terry Pickford

What do you think? Obviously, to me it sounds great, but of course I am very biased!!

Wishing you All a Very Happy Easter

Featured

A Tale of Two Eggs

With Easter a stones throw away, I thought I would do some scouring of the internet to see how much is actually spent on Easter eggs. In 2019 this was around £340m which is 80 million eggs (finder.com). WOW that’s an awful lot of eggs! Research suggests that children consume on average 8 eggs each over 4 days totalling around 8000 calories.(GWP Group)

PROJECT CamTag® is the reason why I wanted to explore this. This is a project to develop a camera satellite tag to obtain photographic evidence associated with the illegal killing of Birds of Prey, which may help lead to future convictions.

Can you assist PROJECT CamTag further and help spread this message far and wide around the country by donating today?

What does this have to do with Easter eggs? Actually nothing! I just wanted to see if readers of this blog can spare a couple of minutes and give some thought to the UK’s Birds of Prey over this Easter weekend.
PROJECT CamTag® is funded by people like you, people who care about our wildlife. To start the project’s Feasibility Study I need to raise £12,000. To reach this target, I need the public’s support, YOUR support to raise the remaining £10,465. This amount equates to just 0.00308% of the UK’s whole spend on Easter eggs in 2019 of £340m!!
It’s a big ask, but with your help it’s possible. No matter how small your donation, it truly will make a difference. The sooner the target can be reached, the sooner we can start helping our Birds of Prey.

“This REAL nest site image, was the result of intentional illegal disturbance, where it is known it had been interfered with.”

Chocolate Easter eggs
On avg. children receive 8 Easter eggs
Failed Peregrine Falcon nest due to illegal disturbance
Image courtesy of Terry Pickford

Can you guess where this is leading?
Do children really need 8 Easter eggs? Now I don’t want to be a killjoy, and maybe I had too many Easter eggs given to me as a child, but when I had my own family, I encouraged friends and family to give my children an alternative gift. I’m not saying that now I wouldn’t like an Easter egg, because I would, but I only need one!

This is where I start getting serious, sad and angry, all at the same time. Look at the two pictures above. On the left, a picture of chocolate eggs that I placed in some straw that I took from my chicken shed, and on the right some real eggs, but not chicken eggs! These real eggs belong to a Peregrine Falcon. This REAL nest site image, was a result of intentional illegal disturbance, where it is known it had been interfered with.

  • 80m Easter eggs sold in the UK, equates to approx. £4.25 per egg.
  • Children on average receive 8 Easter eggs each, this is a spend per child of approx. £34

Based on the figures above I have a request to make, especially if you are a parent, grandparent or family member of a child you intend buying Easter eggs for. How about using this blog as an opportunity to educate the younger members of your family about what is happening to our Birds of Prey in the UK. Many children are now discussing this in the classroom, and are becoming extremely knowledgeable already about the persecution taking place around the UK.
Maybe instead of another egg they might like you to donate the average Easter egg price of £4.25 to PROJECT CamTag?

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) These chicks were saved just in time. This & top image courtesy of Terry Pickford

What do you think? Obviously, to me it sounds great, but of course I am very biased!!

Wishing you All a Very Happy Easter

Featured

Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey (ICYMI)

Irish Raptor Study Group

Twitter @IrishRaptorSG @ihhws
Facebook IrishRaptorSG

This Blog had a lot of interest when posted on 13/3/21.
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) I have re-posted it again today!
Thank you for your support

The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey is one of Ireland’s longest running ecological studies. Ryan Wilson-Parr, provides here an overview, not only providing high-quality information to help protect the species, but also inspiring and giving opportunity to a whole new generation of harrier-philes and conservation scientists.

Ryan is currently undertaking his PhD on Hen Harriers at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Thank you to Ryan for supplying this, my first guest blog, please take time to comment or ask any questions to Ryan who is happy to respond on this blog.

The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey (IHHWS) was established in 2004 to explore what was until then a relative mystery; what do Hen Harriers do outside of the breeding season?

A new venture

When I came to Ireland in September 2009, one of my first hopes was to get involved in Hen Harrier monitoring and conservation on the island. I had completed my Master’s on Hen Harriers in Scotland and was keen to get involved!
One name synonymous with Hen Harriers is Barry O’Donoghue. I made contact with Barry and immediately realised that this was a person who, from a very young age had been dedicating his life to these birds and the conservation of their landscape. Barry was very supportive and facilitating and I soon began to check out a few suitable spots in my new home county of Sligo and contribute to the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey which he co-ordinated in his own time.
This brought me to some of the quietest and most remote parts of Ireland, watching over bogs and reedbeds at dusk in winter. For much of the time, it was a case of trying to find new roosts. Even in the worst of elements, those winter mornings and evenings provided a unique perspective and connection with nature. When a roost was found, it was hugely rewarding and big lift for the survey! Not alone would we have harriers to watch during winter evenings, but it would be a giant step towards protecting that site and yet another piece in the jigsaw, bringing us a bit closer to a fuller understanding of their non-breeding ecology.
I was one of hundreds of contributors to this study, which is still going strong after 17 seasons. During this time, numerous roosts have been made known to National Parks & Wildlife Service and a clear picture has emerged as to the species’ ecology and conservation requirements. Urgent attention is now needed in terms of translating this knowledge into policy to help a declining national population during this crucial period which accounts for two thirds of its annual lifecycle!

The Findings

Through a massive effort involving thousands of hours of coordinated surveys and thousands of records, great insight has been gained on Hen Harriers during the non-breeding period. More than 200 roosts have been discovered all across the island. Almost half of the roosts are in ‘upland’ locations, which is interesting because of the general assumption that Hen Harriers simply disperse to lowland/coastal areas in winter. More than half of the roosts are communal i.e. occupied by multiple birds on consecutive nights. The maximum number of Hen Harriers recorded at a communal roost on the one evening was 16!
Reliably counting multiple harriers at roost takes experience and skill, given the harriers will often drop to roost and rise again, meaning inexperienced surveyors might ‘double-count’ individual birds. Mostly, roosts hold about 1-3 Hen Harriers. It is important to consider that many of these roosts are not just important habitats for Hen Harriers, but for a range of species including Short-eared Owls, Merlin, Kestrel and Barn Owl.

Data provided from satellite tracked birds has identified new roost sites. A number of new roosts have also been located from tagged young birds dispersing from Britain, with two or three tagged Hen Harriers visiting and wintering in Ireland from Britain. These birds set up core wintering ranges around clusters of regularly used roost sites for several months between November to March. Some individuals have returned to winter in Ireland in consecutive years, finding their way to the exact same patch of bog as the previous year! The sat-tagged British birds often head back over the Irish Channel before the breeding season to their natal regions, or occasionally find new areas to attempt to breed. Similarly, Irish born birds have previously been recorded by Barry O’Donoghue to travel to Britain. Clearly, our Hen Harrier meta-population deserves more linked up conservation efforts between agencies and eNGOs in Ireland and Britain.

One of the most striking findings of the research has been that over the 17 years so far, almost a third (31%) of roost sites have been lost. Pressures and threats include the disturbance/removal of roosts (e.g. through burning and wind farm development) and changes to the surrounding landscape (e.g. agricultural intensification and afforestation with conifers). In a number of cases, roosts have been planted with forestry, even when these locations were made known to Forest Service. As things stand, there is effectively little by way of protecting hen harrier outside the breeding season.
A recent Bird Study publication arising from the IHHWS provides some positive and appropriate recommendations by supporting landowners to maintain roost habitats and improve habitat quality and prey availability in the areas surrounding roosts. This in turn could help farm income and boost wider biodiversity in the countryside.

“One of the most striking findings of the research has been that over the 17 years so far, almost a third (31%) of roost sites have been lost”

What now?

The IHHWS provides a solid platform on which to base necessary conservation action for hen harriers in Ireland. A holistic approach to conserving the hen harrier is now possible. One cannot protect a species by looking only at a quarter of its lifecycle or dependencies. It is known that the national Hen Harrier population is suffering from poor over-winter survival. Now that we know where Hen Harriers are, what they need and what threats and pressures they face throughout the year, measures can be put in place to address these.

Furthermore, it has been inspiring to watch a whole new generation of people getting to survey and know more about Hen Harriers, building their skillsets while simultaneously contributing to one of Ireland’s largest ecological studies.
I, myself am also grateful to the hard work of all these individuals, as I analyse in detail, the data that this long-running study has generated. Ultimately, it is hoped that all of this can help save the species here in Ireland.

Further information

A review of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey published in Bird Study can be found here (this link is to be added soon)

The website of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey is www.ihhws.ie
Ryan Wilson-Parr is Honorary Secretary of the Irish Raptor Study Group and PhD candidate studying with Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The research aims to investigate the wintering ecology of Hen Harrier and ascertain the seasonally and biogeographically disparate ecological requirements of Hen Harrier in Ireland and the implications for progressing an effective conservation strategy for the recovery of this declining species.

Please help PROJECT CamTag by donating to our JustGiving campaign here

Featured

Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey

Irish Raptor Study Group

Twitter @IrishRaptorSG @ihhws
Facebook IrishRaptorSG

The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey is one of Ireland’s longest running ecological studies. Ryan Wilson-Parr, provides here an overview, not only providing high-quality information to help protect the species, but also inspiring and giving opportunity to a whole new generation of harrier-philes and conservation scientists.

Ryan is currently undertaking his PhD on Hen Harriers at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Thank you to Ryan for supplying this, my first guest blog, please take time to comment or ask any questions to Ryan who is happy to respond on this blog.

The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey (IHHWS) was established in 2004 to explore what was until then a relative mystery; what do Hen Harriers do outside of the breeding season?

A new venture

When I came to Ireland in September 2009, one of my first hopes was to get involved in Hen Harrier monitoring and conservation on the island. I had completed my Master’s on Hen Harriers in Scotland and was keen to get involved!
One name synonymous with Hen Harriers is Barry O’Donoghue. I made contact with Barry and immediately realised that this was a person who, from a very young age had been dedicating his life to these birds and the conservation of their landscape. Barry was very supportive and facilitating and I soon began to check out a few suitable spots in my new home county of Sligo and contribute to the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey which he co-ordinated in his own time.
This brought me to some of the quietest and most remote parts of Ireland, watching over bogs and reedbeds at dusk in winter. For much of the time, it was a case of trying to find new roosts. Even in the worst of elements, those winter mornings and evenings provided a unique perspective and connection with nature. When a roost was found, it was hugely rewarding and big lift for the survey! Not alone would we have harriers to watch during winter evenings, but it would be a giant step towards protecting that site and yet another piece in the jigsaw, bringing us a bit closer to a fuller understanding of their non-breeding ecology.
I was one of hundreds of contributors to this study, which is still going strong after 17 seasons. During this time, numerous roosts have been made known to National Parks & Wildlife Service and a clear picture has emerged as to the species’ ecology and conservation requirements. Urgent attention is now needed in terms of translating this knowledge into policy to help a declining national population during this crucial period which accounts for two thirds of its annual lifecycle!

The Findings

Through a massive effort involving thousands of hours of coordinated surveys and thousands of records, great insight has been gained on Hen Harriers during the non-breeding period. More than 200 roosts have been discovered all across the island. Almost half of the roosts are in ‘upland’ locations, which is interesting because of the general assumption that Hen Harriers simply disperse to lowland/coastal areas in winter. More than half of the roosts are communal i.e. occupied by multiple birds on consecutive nights. The maximum number of Hen Harriers recorded at a communal roost on the one evening was 16!
Reliably counting multiple harriers at roost takes experience and skill, given the harriers will often drop to roost and rise again, meaning inexperienced surveyors might ‘double-count’ individual birds. Mostly, roosts hold about 1-3 Hen Harriers. It is important to consider that many of these roosts are not just important habitats for Hen Harriers, but for a range of species including Short-eared Owls, Merlin, Kestrel and Barn Owl.

Data provided from satellite tracked birds has identified new roost sites. A number of new roosts have also been located from tagged young birds dispersing from Britain, with two or three tagged Hen Harriers visiting and wintering in Ireland from Britain. These birds set up core wintering ranges around clusters of regularly used roost sites for several months between November to March. Some individuals have returned to winter in Ireland in consecutive years, finding their way to the exact same patch of bog as the previous year! The sat-tagged British birds often head back over the Irish Channel before the breeding season to their natal regions, or occasionally find new areas to attempt to breed. Similarly, Irish born birds have previously been recorded by Barry O’Donoghue to travel to Britain. Clearly, our Hen Harrier meta-population deserves more linked up conservation efforts between agencies and eNGOs in Ireland and Britain.

One of the most striking findings of the research has been that over the 17 years so far, almost a third (31%) of roost sites have been lost. Pressures and threats include the disturbance/removal of roosts (e.g. through burning and wind farm development) and changes to the surrounding landscape (e.g. agricultural intensification and afforestation with conifers). In a number of cases, roosts have been planted with forestry, even when these locations were made known to Forest Service. As things stand, there is effectively little by way of protecting hen harrier outside the breeding season.
A recent Bird Study publication arising from the IHHWS provides some positive and appropriate recommendations by supporting landowners to maintain roost habitats and improve habitat quality and prey availability in the areas surrounding roosts. This in turn could help farm income and boost wider biodiversity in the countryside.

“One of the most striking findings of the research has been that over the 17 years so far, almost a third (31%) of roost sites have been lost”

What now?

The IHHWS provides a solid platform on which to base necessary conservation action for hen harriers in Ireland. A holistic approach to conserving the hen harrier is now possible. One cannot protect a species by looking only at a quarter of its lifecycle or dependencies. It is known that the national Hen Harrier population is suffering from poor over-winter survival. Now that we know where Hen Harriers are, what they need and what threats and pressures they face throughout the year, measures can be put in place to address these.

Furthermore, it has been inspiring to watch a whole new generation of people getting to survey and know more about Hen Harriers, building their skillsets while simultaneously contributing to one of Ireland’s largest ecological studies.
I, myself am also grateful to the hard work of all these individuals, as I analyse in detail, the data that this long-running study has generated. Ultimately, it is hoped that all of this can help save the species here in Ireland.

Further information

A review of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey published in Bird Study can be found here (this link is to be added soon)

The website of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey is www.ihhws.ie
Ryan Wilson-Parr is Honorary Secretary of the Irish Raptor Study Group and PhD candidate studying with Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The research aims to investigate the wintering ecology of Hen Harrier and ascertain the seasonally and biogeographically disparate ecological requirements of Hen Harrier in Ireland and the implications for progressing an effective conservation strategy for the recovery of this declining species.

Please help PROJECT CamTag by donating to our JustGiving campaign here

Featured

For the Love of Raptors

(image: Shot-Common Buzzard, Buteo-buteo)

Who doesn’t love a Raptor?

It would appear, when you search the internet for ‘bird of prey persecution’ that there are page after page of results, (just one example here) there are many people that would prefer that there were no birds of prey around them at all.

Classing them either as vermin, pests or simply just a nuisance, they are exterminated with such an intensity that local populations could and possibly do disappear altogether. There definitely is no love for Raptors in some peoples eyes, many actually loath them. To someone who cares passionately about our wildlife and especially our birds of prey, this is nonsensical, these sociopaths do it because they feel they can, without impunity for their actions.

Please watch this video put together for me by Keith Ross (youtube)

The Voyage by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence.

Surely now you love Raptors?

Now, before people start saying Owls aren’t Raptors, lets leave that debate for another day, you can read this article from Kenn Kaufman in the meantime!
Short-eared and Barn Owls are known to be illegally killed on a regular basis, occasionally Tawny Owls too.

The RSPB’s Birdcrime 2019 report (and Appendices here) shows that out of the 85 confirmed Raptor/Bird of Prey persecution incidents, 45 involved shooting. 3 were Barn Owls and the Common Buzzard topped that list with 24.
In 2019 two of the UK’s most notorious Raptor Persecution blackspots were again in England & Scotland, namely North Yorkshire & Strathbraan and Strathdon

“Raptor persecution cases in Scotland almost exclusively occur on land managed for gamebird shooting, and particularly driven grouse moors”

Acknowledgement: RSPB Birdcrime 2019 ‘Raptor persecution blackspots 2019’

“In 2019, a hen harrier was found shot dead on a grouse moor in Nidderdale. The hen harrier, named River, had been fitted with a satellite tracking device…. It contained two pieces of shot; further proof of the criminality continuing unchecked on these moors.”

Acknowledgement: RSPB Birdcrime 2019 ‘Raptor persecution blackspots 2019’

Please tell me you love Raptors?

So, why do I go on about this? Because it’s so very important! I want it to stop, do you too? Our (yours & mine) Raptors, are being killed relentlessly around the UK, and as you can read from the links, large scale eradication takes place on driven grouse moors, but also (maybe/probably, due to much better general public awareness) individual birds are being reported, found shot around gamebird rearing estates and farmland all over the UK. You can read more about yet another shooting of a Common Buzzard, this time in Cambridgeshire very recently (here), written by the WAR ON WILDLIFE Project. During the three lockdowns we have had to endure over the past year, illegal persecution of Birds of Prey has been ‘given’ the green light, a free-for-all for those that are so inclined to go on a Raptor killing shooting spree.

As I said above, I want this illegal persecution to stop and I’m sure, and hope, that most of you reading this want it to stop as well. Together we, all of us, have a chance to at least do something to try to help turn the tide on these wildlife crimes. Until we do, none of our Raptors are safe, not even the mightiest of them all the White-tailed Eagle. It’s not scaremongering to say either, that if we don’t try to do something we could lose iconic species, such as Hen Harriers, from our skies altogether.

My project needs your help, if you haven’t already, please read all about PROJECT CamTag, a project aiming to use cutting edge technology, to produce a camera satellite tag that could help with the detection of those causing harm to our wildlife. If you are reading this then please help by spreading the word on social media, and making a donation to my JustGiving campaign would be very much appreciated. Our magnificent Birds of Prey are surely worth it?

Coincidently, as I was just about to start this blog last weekend, I found this skull locally, I believe from a Common Buzzard, it was not with the rest of its skeleton, lets hope on this occasion it died of natural causes.

Skull believed to be of a Common Buzzard

If you would like to contribute, it would also be good to hear what your thoughts are about my project through your comments.

Featured

Passing a Milestone

Last week saw my 1st blog post, subsequently I had far more interest and well wishers contributing to my JustGiving page, and amazingly, to me at least, 360 new blog followers. In the realms of blogging that is a mere drop in the ocean, but for me, with this newly launched website & blog I think its a huge Milestone.

Last evening saw another milestone, my JustGiving page passed its 1st £1000 of donations, Yay 🙂 Thank-you to all those supporters so far that have been willing to put their hands in their pockets and contribute.

Getting to this stage has taken a lot of work, and getting this support means a lot, it takes me one step closer to my Feasibility Study. A study to find out if a Camera can be designed and made small enough to be incorporated within a Satellite Tag – CamTag®, which is hoped could prove to be an invaluable tool to help detect those responsible for the illegal killing of our Birds of Prey. Please take a few minutes to read about PROJECT Camtag

Please help our wildlife by donating to this campaign.

As you can see, this milestone was achieved with kind donations from only 21 Supporters – 21. Just think how much closer we could be to starting this project in earnest if the number of supporters, doubled, tripled & quadrupled significantly over the coming weeks? Please help by donating, oh and if you enjoyed this blog post, share it with a friend, thanks!

Featured

Welcome to my 1st Blog

Hi 😊

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank-you to all those who have helped and advised since the outset. I won’t mention names, but you all know who you are that have enabled me to get to this point.

PROJECT CamTag® is at the beginning stages of a journey, although work has been going on behind the scenes for nearly 3 years.  It was only made public a year ago, and promoted more so recently with the launch of this site Raptor3ET.com a couple of weeks ago. I hope you have taken some time to look around my website to see what I and the site are all about?  In a nutshell I am trying to raise funds to enable a feasibility study (FS) to be started, which will hopefully pave the way for the design and manufacture of a CAMERA Satellite Tag. CamTag®. For years I’ve heard the same words, when will cameras be fitted to satellite tags, it is envisaged that this project could bring that idea one step closer with a positive result of Stage 1 of the project. In just the past couple of weeks alone, it’s been revealed via Raptor Persecution UK that at least 4 Hen Harriers vanished without trace in September 2020 (see here and here). The killing of Birds of Prey has been relentless during this lockdown as it was in the first lockdown, with reports of various raptor species being shot on an almost daily basis, not just on Driven Grouse Moors but all around the UK. What better reason does anyone need, to dream that Project Camtag® might one day deliver the quality evidence needed to convict those responsible for these illegal acts?

I would probably be the first to admit that a feasibility study doesn’t sound the most exciting thing in the world, but a FS is an essential part of the jigsaw when it comes to bringing a new concept as this to the market place. For obvious reasons, at this stage the fine details of what will be in the FS cannot be divulged. Some information I have disclosed, in respect of what I am trying to achieve: i.e. Firstly, the obvious or at least it is to me, is a tag with a camera – CamTag®, that will capture the person/s responsible for pulling the trigger, but along with that, the team working around me will be hoping to be able to incorporate data such as stress levels, distance of fall from the sky, exact location & time of a ‘downed bird’ in as near real time as possible. I would point out that these are not guaranteed outcomes by any means, and that they are only some of the criteria proposed to be examined in the FS.

To me, developing a tag offering quality data and reliability goes without saying.  One of my aims is to be able to capture quality data that will act as good evidence in future crime cases. Isn’t that something we would all like?  (Driven Grouse Moor gamekeepers aside that is!). Advances in technology now allow exactly this type of project to go ahead, something that was only written about as a future possibility a decade or two ago. It’s known there are poor tags on the market, I for one, have no interest in designing something that is of a poor standard. Although looking ahead at what the possibilities might be, it is important to bear in mind that we mustn’t jump the gun (no pun intended) as far as the process is concerned, and that we all stay focused, and try to complete and achieve a good outcome for Stage 1.  Get past this, going towards stage 2 and then things will get very exciting.  If I was to get to the manufacture stage, rigorous testing and welfare of the birds would be paramount above anything else. My ultimate goal would be to produce a product fit for purpose that can then be handed over to the right organisation that will take control of the governance.

All of the above will only be possible with help from you, the people reading this. I would like to think that birders, the general public, and basically anyone interested in helping protect our wildlife from being illegally killed, will get behind my project and keep boosting my JustGiving crowdfunder to enable the feasibility study to be started. The sooner I can get to the target the sooner PROJECT CamTag® can start, go ahead MAKE MY DAY!

Mark Avery

Join our community & help make Camera Satellite Tags a reality

Wild Justice

Join our community & help make Camera Satellite Tags a reality

RSPB News

Join our community & help make Camera Satellite Tags a reality

Raptor Aid

Join our community & help make Camera Satellite Tags a reality

PROJECT CAMTAG

Join our community & help make Camera Satellite Tags a reality

Northern England Raptor Forum

Speaking for birds of prey with one voice

Hawk-Eyes

Putting Eyes In The Skies