Experts have warned it could take six months to catch a vicious eagle owl which has attacked two men.
Efforts to capture the bird were scuppered on Wednesday after it went into hiding.
After days of trying to tempt the bird of prey down with food, raptor specialists in Inverness were left scratching their heads as they lost sight of the huge beast.
The rogue predator had been seen hovering above shops in the Highland capital earlier this week, but high winds look to have sent the owl scurrying into the trees for protection.
Staff from the Birds of Prey Rescue Centre (BPRC) in Inverness are still patrolling the streets, but have drawn a blank so far and reckon it could take as much as half a year to catch it.
Raptor expert Tommy Horne admitted it was a frustrating development but promised he would find the owl again soon.
“There are gales of wind up here at the moment so it will be tucked up somewhere hiding out of the weather.
“We’re not going to stop looking though. But there’s a chance we won’t see it again until the winds die down.
“It took us six months to catch the last one, so it might not be a quick process in rescuing this one.
“There are plenty of pigeons and seagulls about, so it’ll be hard to convince to it fly down with our bait.
“But it was last seen as recent as Tuesday night and we’ve got a team of staff out in the same area looking for it still.
“The problem is, if it’s hiding in a tree at the moment, it will be very well camouflaged and it will be hard to spot.”
Meanwhile, Mr Horne warned the public not to approach the owl, which has a whopping wingspan of six foot.
“You might get some hap-hazard guy going out who could get torn to bits. These are really big, powerful birds.”
The owl has caused chaos over the past few weeks, leaving residents terrified of going outside.
Noel Hill, 50, of Inverness, was also attacked by the same bird and had to fight it off with his fists before it was frightened away.
Not much to say about the swans this week, they are looking fit and healthy and with the ice melting partly on the pond they can feed from the bottom again.
They are well fed also by the passers-by who bring bread, barley and corn. Continue reading “Swan Diary #3 (2013)”
Birds of prey in Scotland will be at risk of injury or death because of a decision to allow the use of so-called “clam traps”, according to campaigners.
SNH has agreed to license the use of clam traps from next year.
The trap system works by snapping shut when a bird lands on a perch to feed on bait.
They are designed to capture crows and magpies, but RSPB Scotland said “non-target” species such as buzzards and sparrowhawks would also be at risk.
It is claimed larger traps could even pose a threat to golden eagles.
Duncan Orr-Ewing, of RSPB Scotland, said:
There have been many recent incidents, including some resulting in prosecutions, illustrating the widespread misuse of the current range of traps and the deliberate targeting of protected species.
“RSPB Scotland has documented 127 confirmed incidents related to the use of ‘crow’ traps over the last 10 years, including the deliberate killing of captured birds of prey, the starvation of trapped birds, and evidence of a widespread lackadaisical attitude towards adherence to current licence conditions.
“With this in mind, we are very concerned that the licensing of new, untested traps will only increase the threats faced by our raptors.”
The Chief Superintendent of the Scottish SPCA, Mike Flynn, told BBC Scotland:
“We did recommend that these clam traps should be subject to an independent, scientific trial before being licensed.
“Until such a trial has taken place, which demonstrates that these traps do not cause injury or harm to any species caught, the Scottish SPCA continues to have concerns over them.”
The legal status of clam traps had been unclear and gamekeepers have welcomed SNH’s decision to license their use on a trial basis, arguing a wide range of species including wading birds and red squirrels will benefit.
Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association Alex Hogg said:
“We and other land-based agencies welcome the clarity that has been provided by SNH on the matter of identifying legal traps for use.
“Clam traps have been used for the past four years with no evidence of welfare issues.
“They are used as effective tools for the protection of game birds from predation. Black grouse and waders, whose numbers are of conservation concern, have also been shown to benefit.”
Scottish Natural Heritage has pledged to monitor the use of clam traps carefully.
Ben Ross, SNH’s licensing manager, said:
“We will commission objective research on these traps; if the research shows they pose unacceptable risks, we will then prohibit them.
“We’ll also work with partners to develop a code of practice for the use of traps.”
Scotland has renewed its call for landowners and their staff in some parts of Scotland to do more to protect raptors from being killed illegally.
Director Stuart Housden said “intolerance” had been shown to the birds in parts of the eastern and central Highlands and southern uplands.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said illegal killing was not tolerated.
The SGA added that landowners and employees had worked hard to reduce incidents of bird of prey abuse.
In the RSPB‘s newly-published report, The illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland in 2011, Mr Housden praised land managers’ efforts to conserve species of birds such as lapwing and capercaillie.
But he said birds of prey continued to be persecuted. Fewer raptors were found poisoned in Scotland in 2011 than recorded in the previous year’s RSPB report.
Tests confirmed 20 raptors, including a golden eagle, seven buzzards and four red kites, were poisoned in 2011.
In 2010, 29 birds were found killed in this way according to the RSPB.
But Mr Housden said potentially more birds were killed but not found. He said 2011’s toll still made for “depressing reading”.
As well as the poisonings, there were 16 incidents where birds were killed illegally by other means.
A goshawk nest near Peebles in the Borders was also recorded to have been shot at.
In the report, Mr Housden said many landowners and their employees acted responsibly and helped in efforts to conserve species such as lapwing, corncrakes and capercaillie.
However, he added:
“The fact that the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland has continued is inescapable.
“What is also clear is that had it not been for the development of new satellite-based technology, some of these victims would never have been found.”
SGA chairman Alex Hogg said the figures in the RSPB report were similar to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture statistics, that were published in March and September this year.
He said 2011 had seen an increased number of investigations that had found fewer cases of abuse, but had instead uncovered deaths caused by birds colliding with power lines and vehicles.
Mr Hogg said:
“This is at a time when raptor numbers are, in many cases, the highest ever recorded and more and more people are losing increasing number of livestock to birds of prey, putting jobs and families at risk in a difficult time for the Scottish economy.
“Given that background, partners were rightly encouraged that the huge amount of work that has been done to educate and raise awareness, is working.”
“The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has an unequivocal stance against the abuse of birds of prey and will continue to work hard, as it has done, to keep bringing these figures down.”
The Scottish SPCA was alerted on Saturday after a member of the public discovered the injured bird in north-east Dumfries and Galloway, adjacent to the Southern Upland Way.
The golden eagle is now receiving veterinary treatment and specialist care at the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said:
“This eagle has been caused tremendous pain and suffering. It became grounded after being shot, which caused the feathers on its tail and wings to break and meant it was unable to search for food.
“If the eagle hadn’t been found on Saturday it is very likely it would have starved to death. Golden eagles are extremely rare and it is very concerning that someone would deliberately try to injure or kill such a magnificent creature.
“As well as being cruel, injuring a wild bird is also a criminal offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and we are very keen to speak to anyone who has information about this incident. This eagle will require lengthy rehabilitation and expert treatment in our care.
“Although it’s very early days yet, it is feeding now and we are hopeful it will make a full recovery and we will be able to release it back into the wild next year.”
Stuart Housden, director RSPB Scotland, said:
“With one golden eagle already found poisoned this year, and a second bird the apparent victim of an illegal trap, this is yet another appalling incident. Whoever pulled the trigger must have deliberately targeted one of our most iconic birds, with lethal intentions.
“Whoever it was has access to a shotgun, and the confidence to use it in this area. Much has been made of an apparent recent decline in the illegal poisoning of Scotland’s birds of prey, but this, and other recent criminal incidents, show that efforts to stamp out the illegal persecution of strictly protected wildlife have a considerable way to go.”
The Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline is 03000 999 999.
Loch Lomond National Park is a great tourist attraction for tourism in Scotland, and Fishing and Wildlife News is currently visiting these sorts of places in the country to promote what’s available on the Wildlife side site seeing.
On our travels we came across the LOCH LOMOND BIRD OF PREY CENTRE.
Stewart Robertson kindly met and gave us a wonderful greeting at the center’s entrance, Stewart is a guy that certainly knows his stuff, without even asking he was giving us loads of information on the lives’ of the lovely selection and varieties of Birds of Prey and Owls on show, as soon as Stewart talks to each of the birds, you can see the bond that has developed between each other. It’s very humbling to see such a connection between the birds and their handler Stewart.
Now myself a keen wildlife artist was mesmerized by the colours in all of the birds and owls, at the moment I am studying colours and shapes of all Wildlife to help me produce more life-like drawings and paintings, and this visit to the Bird of Prey Center will certainly help me achieve my goals in becoming a better Wildlife Artist, hopefully producing more life-like images. For me it was certainly worth the visit alone and Stewart with all his knowledge and information gave me inspiration to now start raptor painting. Which I haven’t yet attempted. I took a series of photographs and film for my reference when I decide to paint Birds of Prey,
A truly magical experience for me and I will always remember how beautiful the birds and owls are that close up as my brother Raymond said, we’re that used to seeing them miles away from us and here we see them in all their glory close up great,
We highly recommend you visit the
LOCK LOMOND BIRD OF PREY CENTER
Concerns for the safety of a missing osprey chick have been eased after a satellite tracked his tag.
Blue 44 was born to 27-year-old Lady eight weeks ago at the Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire.
On Monday he took his first flight but despite searches by volunteers hasn’t been seen since.
However, staff at the Scottish Wildlife Trust said data from the bird’s tag had shown recent activity, suggesting the young bird is alive and well.
The trust said it was unusual for an osprey chick to fledge and not return to the nest within 24 hours, but not unheard of.
On some occasions the young birds are daunted by their first flight and reluctant to try again.
Staff suspect this is what happened to Blue 44.
They said they were optimistic following the new satellite information which showed the bird was moving and that the altitude meter indicated he was keeping to the tree tops.
The trust said they were now scaling back the searches in order to reduce the disruption to the area and hoped that would encourage Blue 44 to return to the nest.