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.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

RSPB will go to extreme measures to save birds

But the RSPB has a squad which is more SAS than sedate. Its members will abseil down sheer cliffs, squat in mosquito-infested ditches or race over moorland to the scenes of alleged crimes.

The investigations team is in the front line of fighting wildlife crime and has its hands full. Just try finding a hen harrier in England this summer. The males are sleek, grey masters of the air quartering moorland in pursuit of prey. But this summer they became extinct as breeding birds in England for the first time in 50 years. Yet a government study says the uplands south of the border could support 300 pairs.

Unfortunately the hen harrier's diet includes grouse chicks which makes it a target on some unscrupulous shooting estates. It is not alone. In 2011 the RSPB received 202 reports of birds of prey being killed.

Investigations team member Mark Thomas tells RSPB Birds magazine: "If you look at the list of people convicted for offences against birds of prey since 1990 you'll see that 70 per cent of them work on shooting estates."

But proving who killed a bird of prey on a remote estate is the devil's own job. The team relies on tip-offs, technology and luck.

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