I've had to take dead birds to the vets many times before, but this time I had a real sinking feeling. Minutes after handing over the limp corpse I was staring at an X-ray, which confirmed my worst fears.

I could see 11 pieces of gunshot in what had been a magnificent, female peregrine. She had been slaughtered – most probably on her nest. The inscribed metal ring on her leg gave a tiny insight into her life. She hatched seven years ago in Shropshire and, at the time of her death, was in her prime. Quite probably, she had chicks that depended on her and will now starve.

I felt sick and disgusted. How can people stoop so low?

This has been one of the worst years I can remember. In the last few weeks, barely a day has gone by without us getting a call about peregrine persecution and other crimes against birds of prey. It's shocking that in the 21st century, these fabulous birds are still routinely shot, trapped and poisoned.

Only a few days ago, one of my colleagues in Scotland went to investigate a dead golden eagle found in Argyll. The bird has gone off for analysis but the police suspect that it was illegally poisoned, using a bait laced with a lethal pesticide.

I'm desperate for the peregrine and golden eagle deaths not to be mere grisly statistics.

With your support, we can demonstrate to government that we will not tolerate these crimes and put an end to them.

Please sign the RSPB's birds of prey pledge now and help us stop the killing.

Thank you so much.

PS For more about peregrine persecution, including a photo of the dead female, see here.