As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Call for birdwatchers to help protect birds' eggs

By Stephen Davy-Osborne

DEVON and Cornwall Police are calling on birdwatchers to assist them in a countywide egg hunt to help protect some of Cornwall's rarest birds.

Operation Easter is part of the National Wildlife Crime Unit's (NWCU) drive to stamp out illegal egg-collecting, and is calling on birdwatchers to alert police to the nesting sites of rare birds, such as the chough, so that they can draw up a map of their locations.

People are asked to report the nesting sites of any 'schedule 1 birds', which include goshawk, kingfisher, barn owl and peregrine falcon.

Paul Freestone, wildlife crimes officer at Devon and Cornwall Police, said that the creation of the map was a "gathering of intelligence" in order to protect rarer species.

"Any information we receive will remain confidential," he said.

"We're trying to give the police a better idea of where our rarer breeding birds are in Cornwall, and we have 42 volunteers across the force who do this along with their normal duties.

"If we do have some rarer breeding birds then we will look at setting up full-time watches or covert cameras at nest sites that could be at risk."

The collecting of birds' eggs is a criminal offence but police said that it remains the pastime of a minority, who often take whole clutches of eggs from some of the county's rarest birds.

Tony Whitehead, speaking for the RSPB, said: "We take bird crime very seriously in the South West.

"For a while we've asked birdwatchers to report any sightings of rare breeding birds to the relevant county bird recorder and RSPB but it's good to see the police getting involved in this way.

"It is also a timely reminder with the breeding season just around the corner that people should avoid disturbing nesting birds.

"People should also not share or publish publicly the locations of rare species."

Head of the NWCU, Detective Inspector Nevin Hunter, said: "We will do everything possible to gain intelligence that brings these wildlife criminals before the court."

Bob Elliot, head of investigations for RSPB, said that the RSPB welcomed the commitment of the police and NWCU to help protect these nests.

Anyone with any information relating to the location of a schedule 1 bird's nesting site is asked to report it to wildlife crime officer Paul Freestone at stone@devonandcornwall.p

Information relating to the disturbance of nest sites can also be passed in confidence to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555111.

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