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Birds of prey are doing "incredibly well" in Britain, says leading naturalist

Peregrine Falcon in Whitebread Hollow, Sussex
Image: Ron Knight

On this morning's BBC Radio 4 Today programme, leading naturalist Stephen Moss presented the week's 'Nature Notes' with presenter Justin Webb, discussing how birds of prey are doing "incredibly well" in Britain.

"When I was growing up you basically saw kestrels and nothing else. Ironically, the bird of prey I haven't seen over my garden this year is the kestrel. I've seen sparrowhawks, buzzards, red kites, marsh harrier, peregrine and today a hobby. And the great thing about them is you can see them anywhere."

He goes on to discuss how birds of prey can be seen in all sorts of towns and cities across Britain. The white-tailed eagles that have been reintroduced to the Isle of Wight have been seen "all over the place", while red kites can be seen "over London, over Lord's, round the M25", and the osprey are described as a "safe species" in the British Isles.

"Any of these birds of prey you can literally see anywhere in Britan", says Moss.

This is just what many others have been saying; despite what many people who protest against grouse shooting say, raptors are in fact thriving in the UK. The GWCT state that Britain's bird of prey population has soared past the 250,000 barrier for the first time in hundreds of years. So why are anti-shooting activists wilfully ignoring the facts – indeed telling the public the exact opposite? True conservationists look at the numbers and present them honestly.

We are lucky that, with the help of a vast amount of human effort, birds of prey are doing very well in the UK. We should be shouting about it, not doing them down.

It does also beg the question why on earth North Yorkshire Police are spending vast sums of money on Operation Owl investigations, set up largely after a dead buzzard was discovered, when there is clearly an abundance of birds of prey? Imagine how many NHS nurses that money could have funded, or how many burglaries or fly tipping incidents could have been prevented?

The interview with Stephen Moss & Justin Webb can be heard at 1h27min on BBC Sounds:

Stephen Moss's books 'The Robin' and 'The Wren' are on sale now.


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