We’re still rolling

I’m sure you haven’t been clinging to your iPad or mobile phone waiting for an update on the world of Raptor Aid – We’ve just been so bloomin busy with several things so I will try and get you up to speed with how the summer is panning out and what we have been doing.

Well the wild bird of prey monitoring has been in full swing here in the UK, we have pretty much signed off all the nest sites and boxes we need to check and we are now into the final furlong of chasing those pesky small migrant falcons – Hobbies. The hours I have spent stood in fields not seeing anything certainly outweighs any glimpse of the bird themselves but that’s what makes it so addictive because “the glimpse” which could be only a single syllable call or the flick of a wing behind a tree and gone is what hooks you to persevere. Its behavior like this that makes the Hobby one of Britain’s hardest raptors to study and gets them the nickname “Little Houdini” but don’t let that put you off! August and September is the best time to get out and find successful noisy nestlings to give you a head start for next year. We will make sure you get a full break down of the season in a future blog.

We are also incredibly busy behind the scenes trying to get Raptor Aid charitable status, the reason behind this is twofold, not only to make the work of RA and any money raised to forward the conservation of raptors globally but also safeguard the future of any hard work we are create or are involved with. I suppose critics may say its all about getting money easier and dodging taxes but this couldn’t be further from the truth, not only are the charitable guidelines incredibly strict  (which it should) but getting the organisation charitable and sustainable is going to be the biggest challenge. We still have our captive bird of prey team to take care of (Wings Bird of Prey) and this is proving to be incredibly busy so that also impacts on the set up of the charity but 21 beaks need feeding, and exercising before anything else is achieved. Despite the captive birds now being a complete separate operation the bigger plan would be for Raptor Aid to have no direct connection with captive birds of prey other than lobbying and developing guidelines for better welfare legislation both with private keepers but especially commercial enterprises using birds of prey.

Sadly since we have put our head above the parapet about organisations using birds of prey commercially we have received several correspondence from worried individuals who have seen certain organisations that have birds in poor condition with worrying welfare standards and of course the dreaded poke and stroke that birds are put through in order to fulfill a human desire to touch and in return line the pockets of the organisation (we have blogged about this previously and no doubt will in the near future). In the first instance we are contacting venues and organisations directly asking them to review their practices and questioning the ethics of what they are offering – this often falls on deaf ears so in the long term we will continue developing guidelines and lobbying for tougher legislation on the ownership of birds of prey in the UK. We are also half way through monitoring bird of prey for sale pages in the UK and it is proving to be another eye opener with over 100 adult birds of prey being sold each month – we will be completing a full report in the new year once we have compiled all the data. If you see anything just make sure you gather plenty of information and images of your concerns and feel free to forward them to us confidentially.

We have a couple of trips away planned for August and October – August the plan is to visit two brothers who are working to rescue and rehabilitate Black Kites in Delhi, the issue lies with Indian culture and their love of flying man made kites and the wild Black Kites colliding with the strings which are often left hung up in trees or directly on a flying kite. This can cause horrific injuries to the birds and the brothers are doing everything they can to try and help each individual Black kite along with many other species. Another thing they are finding is metabolic bone deficiencies in the Black kites due to their huge population and poor diet from scavenging they are receiving huge numbers of young nestlings which fall from their nest each year and have this debilitating deficiency based on the poor diet they are being fed from primarily rubbish dumps. In October we might be making another trip to the Philippines for the Asian Raptor Conservation Network conference and to maybe carry out a couple of workshops at the Philippine Eagle Foundation. This trip isn’t confirmed though as we may save the airfare for the breeding season and a potential nest site visit in the new year.

We are carrying out some of our own rehabilitation work at the moment with a juvenile wild Peregrine in our care. Sadly this bird took a crash landing on one of her maiden flights and was found grounded with a damaged wing. She was taken to a wildlife hospital where they had the bird checked over by a vet and x-ray’s carried out. Luckily no breaks and after two weeks of box rest the Peregrines wing is back to normal but sadly the bird has missed vital flying and learning time with her sibling(s) and parents. We were asked to come and give her a test flight to see if she was fit for a quick release but unfortunately she barely managed to get off the ground more than 20ft so it was deemed irresponsible to just leave her to chance. We will use the knowledge we have training and getting captive birds of prey fit and get her fit, flying free and also hunting before the end of the summer and then release her back to the wild. Since helping the wildlife hospital we have also added bird of prey rehabilitation to our plans for the future, and hope to work closely with the local wildlife hospitals and vets to assist with any raptors they have admitted.

I should also do a round up of what everyone else is doing in the world of raptor conservation but I will leave this for a separate blog this week sometime. In the meantime enjoy the nice weather and don’t forget there is possibly a pair of Hobbies that need finding and recording – get out and enjoy the outdoors.