I grew up in Bristol and went to Bristol Grammar School where a couple of masters (Derek Lucas and Tony Warren) were instrumental in fueling my interest in birds. I was in the Young Ornithologists' Club.
In the school holidays I practically lived at Chew Valley Lake - a bicycle and a pair of binoculars were all I needed.
My parents liked nice scenery and walks in the countryside and that gave me plenty of opportunities for birding.
I spent a few years when rare birds were very important to me but aside from the very occasional lapse they aren't any more!
I did a Ph.D. on pipistrelle bats but most of my research before joining the RSPB was on bee-eaters in the south of France (nice eh?) and great tits and marsh tits around Oxford. However, the first scientific paper I wote was about the lekking behaviour of great snipe.
I joined the RSPB staff in 1986 as a researcher, became Head of Conservation Science in 1992 and Conservation Director in 1998 - all have been great jobs!
James Delingpole suggests potting a few of the most gorgeous (and protected) birds in the country. And he has the RSPB in his line of fire too!
What do you think?
Carduus the strangest thing by far as you are a nit picker is that the most unsubstantiated fact of all probably put out by RSPB but not sure it was them but was the original start of Kestrel thread,it said increase in intensive farming to blame and that is so untrue it is unbelievable someone like yourself who likes facts based on coming from a proven source has not gone to town on it.Repeat increase in intensive farming has not occurred in the time scale Kestrel numbers decreased so there is a real opportunity for you.
Well Carduus think you could have the same critical thought about all of my comments and indeed just about anyone else's,why one fact correct or not is so important to you only you know.Hope you have a better day.
No, I don't have any agenda, hidden or otherwise. The comparison between you and Delingpole was merely that in both cases unsubstantiated claims were made about the effects of larger raptors on the Kestrel population. No further similarity intended.
I am sure that RSPB staff have, in general, better things to do than to correct every minor claim made in blog comments, even those on RSPB staff blogs. To suggest that something must be true because the RSPB haven't challenged it is bizarre logic, to say the least. It wasn't even as if the issue concerned RSPB policy.
I'm not saying you're wrong about Kestrel remains in Buzzard nests, just that it would be better to have a more reliable source than the word of an anoymous person. It occurred to me that (some of the) Kestrel remains in nests could (possibly) be from dead birds (e.g. roadkill) scavenged by Buzzards. Not saying this is the case, just that it's a plausible alternative explanation.
I think the Norway paper quoted was perfectly relevant - the same two species involved and in general I suspect the ecology would be reasonably similar.
Regarding the poisoning, I have no wish to see any birds poisoned at all, either intentionally or as a consequence of rodent control. The 70% figure quoted by Meconopsis referred to dead birds containing rat poison, not killed by it. It would be interesting to know what proportion of birds were carrying enough poison to have significant effects on their survival or reproduction, although clearly the impacts must be less serious than the severe effects of organochlorine pesticides in the past.
Well Carduus perhaps you think I have a hidden agenda and to say I am alike Del boy seems a bit over the top as he got loads of £s for his rubbish,perhaps you like the 70% being killed by eating rats killed with poison or perhaps even you dispute this.That Buzzard nests contained Kestrel remains must have been in a reputable source but if you choose to not believe it I could not care less but to quote something from Norway seems way off the mark.My guess is RSPB could easily confirm or deny what I said about Buzzard nests so my take on it is this if I am wrong the RSPB will say so.It is no big deal to be wrong as far as I am concerned but you obviously take a much different view,would you not have expected by this stage if I was wrong the RSPB to have politely said so,oh you had not considered that.
We still only have your unsupported word for it that Buzzards i) eat a lot of Kestrels and ii) are causing Kestrel numbers to decline. Not much better than Delingpole's assertion that Red Kites and Sea Eagles are to blame.
Even if Buzzards do feed on Kestrels that doesn't necessarily mean there is a negative effect on the population. Competition for food could perhaps be significant, due to the large dietary overlap, but I don't know of any evidence that this is important. I found one paper on Buzzard diet ("Diet of Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) in southern Norway determined from prey remains and video recordings"), which doesn't report any Kestrels or other birds of prey at all (admittedly this was quite a small study).
Goshawks are known to have local effects on Kestrel numbers, but there aren't that many of them around at all anyway so their total effect must be quite small (The decline of Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus in a forested area of northern England: the role of predation by Northern Goshawks Accipiter gentilis).
Ultimately, the origin of this story was the reported 36% drop in Kestrel numbers between 2008-2009 (www.bto.org/.../roadside_raptor.html). It isn't really plausible to attribute such a large rapid drop this to gradual changes in the levels of predation, road deaths or agricultural changes, rather than e.g. weather conditions for that year. Taking a longer view, there isn't much evidence of a long term decline in Kestrel numbers since the late 1980s (www.bto.org/.../wcrkestr.shtml) (excluding the last 2-3 years).
No worries Sooty.
I'm as patriot as the next person, but it does't prevent me from acknowledging & admiring the achievements of other nations. Recently Spain, amogst other things, as not only shown the world how to play sexy football, but its demonstrated that it will not tolerate someone poisoning its iconic species.
Whoops sorry Meco put that on while I was commenting.
Hi bordercollie apologies for misunderstanding.Your son has my admiration and many more like him.
Thank you Mark got off the subject a bit there.
Wonder if it is true see reported elsewhere that 70% of Kestrel deaths may be due to picking up rats etc killed with poison.
Kestrels are declining possibly for several reasons but one of the biggies is that 70% of livers analysed (Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme) contain poison residues from rat & mouse poisons.
Now the RSPB know this stuff but dont let Jo public see the facts.
Same as the huge number of Red Kite deaths in Scotland this very year but will of cource be listed as poisonings by the RSPB marketing squad.
Hi Sooty, not a sly dig, not a dig at all, I'm sorry if you miss understood; just trying to explain why i didn't blog earlier. Like many folk I have a son who's served in Afghanistan.
Sorry Carduus do not keep paper cuttings but lots of reported remains of Kestrels in Buzzards nests and I have no reason to disbelieve them and think a very good chance they are correct as being a cynical person I tend to question things.
Road kill,well It is the bird I see dead on the road most after hand reared Pheasants but in our area we have more Kestrels than we have ever had.As ever anything I say or almost anyone else says for that matter is very hard to provide evidence and I am always happy for other people to have a different opinion.Being called the motorway hawk must mean they live a dangerous life.
Well bordercollie what a sly dig about work can almost guarantee if hours of work in our lifetime put side by side yours would look pretty shameful.Perhaps before decrying Brits in disgraceful fashion and insinuating we are comfortable with poisoning which is definitely not true you should go to Espana because if you don't you will find their brief touch of fame will be gone.We have plenty of heroes filling in the difficult areas in Afghanistan where Viva Espana troops keep to the safe areas,that to my mind is a better judgement than a couple of sporting wins.
Appologies for not keepig this blog rolling Sooty, but I was out last night & alas unlike you I suspect I still have work to go to. I see you're as resigned as Mark to infinate poisoning. Maybe its an attitude thing with the Brits. No it must be more than that. What ever it is, it wasn't an issue with the Wimbledon Champion, the Football World Cup Champions & the Raptor Protection Champions. Viva Espana. Adios.
"in this country Buzzards are making a meal out of Kestrels"
"Lots of Kestrel remains have been found in Buzzard nest and that and road kill most likely for the decline."
Please can you substantiate these statements.
Hi bordercollie suspect you are strictly correct but how you comment it perhaps comes over as if RSPB and the rest of us do not care that much.Think you would find that we all desperately wish that the culprits could be caught and punished but as Mark points out lots of different parts want RSPB to do more and only a certain amount of money to go round.Maybe even only the police can do the investigating.If only it were as easy as your comments make it sound but underneath I think you know how difficult it is to catch them and get a conviction that would hurt and the jails are so full it is unfortunately not going to happen.Assure you almost all of us feel as frustrated as you.