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.

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!

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 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

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