RSPB Scotland Conservation Manager, Stuart Benn, tells us about a recent protest against raptor persecution in Inverness.
It’s time to get MAD about wildlife crime!
In late March, at least 14 red kites and 5 buzzards were poisoned near Inverness making it one of the worst recorded cases of bird of prey killing ever in the UK.
Of course, the RSPB condemned the killings but what made this one different was that the reaction from others was equally immediate and loud. Within days local people had set up their own Facebook page to voice their anger and sorrow - both took off highlighting the level of public disgust.
A reward for info leading to a successful conviction was set up and currently stands at £27000 (Just Giving page here). As of today, 199 individuals have donated £5000 and local landowners and farmers have contributed a fantastic £12000.
And when the RSPB in North Scotland organised a demonstration against the killings in Inverness city centre, hundreds came, listened to a piper play a lament, carried ‘ghost’ raptors which they chalked round, and added their messages. Never before have so many people gathered in one place to show how much they like birds of prey and what they think of those that do harm to them.
None of this would have happened a few years ago. Certainly in the North of Scotland they were seen as the RSPB’s kites and, if anyone killed them, well that was seen as someone else’s problem to sort out. But some absolutely brilliant work between a whole army of stupendous volunteers, the local communities, landowners and the RSPB has turned all that around.
Now they are everyone’s kites, as much a part of ‘ordinary’ people’s lives as doing the shopping or watching the telly. They love their kites, they make them feel good and now anyone that harms kites harms them. At the demonstration I saw people in tears – that’s how much those dead birds meant to them. Birds they won’t see out the kitchen window, when they go for a walk, when they drive in and out of Inverness.
The chalk outlines of the kites and buzzards will have been scuffed off the streets of Inverness by now but the memory of the day and the resolve to keep fighting won’t be erased so easily.
The people have spoken, they are going to continue to speak, they aren’t going to go away, they aren’t going to shut up. Those who have it in their power to put an end to raptor killing would do well to listen.
To celebrate the launch of the Scottish Birdfair event programme, we are giving away a batch of goodies for your garden birds!
To enter simply visit the website http://scottishbirdfair.org.uk/ then tell us what walk, talk, workshop or special event you are most looking forward to.
You can either leave us a comment here on the blog, via Facebook or Twitter @RSPBScotland.
We'll select a winner at random by Thursday, April 17th.
Scotland's Big Nature Festival returns
Check out this video of last year's event to find out what it's all about.
Just a few short weeks to go before the Scottish Birdfair (May 10-11) and we are busy preparing for the big weekend.
This year we are excited to welcome even more exhibitors showcasing the very best in optics, clothing, arts and crafts, books and bird food (just to name a few) and we are looking forward to browsing the stalls ourselves.
One of the perks of being a Birdfair team member, aside from being issued with a walkie talkie, is the opportunity to meet so many people who share our love for wildlife and Scotland’s natural environment. We have a dedicated team of volunteers who help us with every aspect of the event, from marketing to traffic marshaling and we really couldn’t do it without them.
We are looking forward to welcoming a diverse range of conservation organisations, all with a commitment to protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Be sure to visit our friends and find out more about what they do and how you can help.
A fantastic selection of talks from experts including David Lindo (AKA the Urban Birder) and Sir John Lister Kaye are sure to inspire. If you are interested in wildlife photography, join in Jo McIntyre's workshop and learn some new tips for taking stunning wildlife pics. Round out the day with a whisky tasting session brought to you by the Famous Grouse.
There’s also an opportunity to discover the remarkable wildlife of the Firth of Forth on a special seabird cruise on Sunday, May 11th. Experts will point out the diverse range of species found right on our doorstep from puffins and gannets to seals and jellyfish.
There’s lots to keep the little ones entertained too with pony rides, storytelling, puppet shows, nest box building and more! Come along to a screening of the award-winning documentary Project Wild Thing which chronicles a father's attempts to get his kids to develop a love of nature. The screening is on Saturday and a special Q&A session with the Director, David Bond, is on Sunday.
And let’s not forget the truly important things...the food and beverage options! Check out the Birdfair Bar for a selection specially brewed beers and stop by the Forest Cafe for a range of tasty lunch options and snacks.
So, if you enjoy nature, wildlife, the outdoors, delicious locally sourced food and fun for the entire family- The Scottish Birdfair is the perfect event for you! We look forward to seeing you there!
You can view the full event programme and purchase tickets on the Scottish Birdfair website.