Goyt Valley peregrine – an update


A fluffy Peregrine chick reared, to great public joy, on the BT tower in Stoke-on-Trent this year.

The shooting of a young Peregrine Falcon in the Goyt Valley on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border has been well-covered by our big brother blog, Raptor Persecution UK (see here). Again – they broke the news of a raptor killing – they do that a lot.

But there has been follow-up information on the BBC and in the local Stoke newspaper and on @RSPBbirders Twitter account (from which I have borrowed the images on this blog (hoping not to be sued by the RSPB for publicising this)). What hasn’t been reported (except in a comment on the RPUK blog – which I had missed until I checked with them – so much of the world may have missed it too) is that this young Peregrine was one of those fledged from the BT tower in Hanley, Stoke-on Trent.

BT towers in the West Midlands (Birmingham, Stafford and Stoke on Trent) had a hat-trick of successful nests this year and you can watch a video of the Stoke-on-Trent birds here – you’ll notice that the ‘BT staff have grown very fond of their feathered friends’.

To the best of my rather imperfect knowledge, this is the first occasion when we know that an urban-bred Peregrine has been killed on or very near a driven grouse moor. Wildlife crime involving birds of prey is not really news on grouse moors – birds of prey, protected though they have been in law since 1954, are not welcome on many grouse moors.

This young bird, raised in the city, wandered around, as they do, and found itself in what would have looked like a great place to set up territory, maybe even to raise its own brood of chicks in due course. How lucky, it might have thought, to have found such a good spot with no Peregrines already well-established as the owners.

If this young Peregrine had been able to read the signs it would have been reassured to learn that it was settling in a National Park in which there was a raptor forum established to look after birds of prey like itself.

And now it’s just another victim of illegal killing, directed deliberately and specifically against protected birds of prey, in an upland English National Park (and things are no better in Scotland by the way).  From fluffy feathered friend in Stoke to a victim of wildlife crime in a National Park.

Sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting which closes on Tuesday night and which will be debated in parliament later this autumn.



The same Peregrine (or one of its siblings) shot in the Peak District National Park a few weeks later.



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  1. It's a shame that the 2014 Peregrine Survey is talking so long to complete or that those that took part in it haven't wrote anything about their findings.


  2. Was it near a gritstone crag? See the green on the tail, looks like mould from rocks, like a bit of mouldy gritstone where it was probably shot.

  3. Kevin Morris says:

    I believe it to be the work of the pigeon fanciers. Although there is also a Clay-pigeon club South East of Erwood, so in theory it could have been accidentally shot, but they only shoot on Sunday mornings.

    • Gee says:

      Kevin, If a clay pigeon shooter cannot tell the difference between a clay and a Peregrine then they should have their firearms licence taken away.

    • Anand Prasad says:

      Accidentally shot! That is a new one.
      When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras.

    • John Cantelo says:

      You can believe what you like but in terms of statistics and location, it seems distinctly more likely that game interests were behind this shooting. Most pigeon fanciers live in urban areas where Peregrines seem to be doing relatively well whereas in thinly populated moorland areas they are doing badly. Relatively few pigeon fanciers probably have easy access to firearms and would not find it quite so easy to potter around moorland so armed without attracting undue attention from eagle-eyed guardians of wildlife & biodiversity aka gamekeepers.

      • Random22 says:

        Yeah, pigeon fanciers either go for poison, nest disruption (if they are young and fit enough), or those nasty hooks they put on a sacrificial bird. Shooting is more indicative of a farmer or game keeper.

        • Dennis Ames says:

          R22,well done bring the bad old farmers into it,of course they have to protect their cows and other animals from Peregrines and especially their crops.It is well known Peregrines eat lots of sugar beet crops and ruin lots of potato crops.
          Do a bit of research not many farmers out of the tens of thousands have shotguns and those that do not many would kill a peregrine.
          Lots appreciate the wildlife they have just as much as you.Do not forget it is more a part of their life than almost all the population.

          • Random22 says:

            Well I agree with the first part of your statement. Farmers who farm cows, sugar beet, subsidies pigs, maize, etc, ought to have not reason to be going out and shooting raptors. That is where we diverge, because they do so anyway. The same drive that makes them go rip up a tree to neaten up the field is the same drive that makes them go shoot down a raptor (or badger) just to keep the land neat and as garden like as possible.

            Perhaps your claim is that of the farmers that it is just a few rotten apples? I've heard that before somewhere. It seems a very familiar refrain.

          • Ernest Moss says:

            Absolute nonsense.

            None of the 100's of farmers I know would even dream of shooting a raptor. You should apologise.

  4. Mows says:

    Was there any pellets found in the body, or any pellet holes. The original report just says smashed wing.

    • MichaelD says:

      There's no ambiguity with this one. In the Derbyshire Police statement they say cause of death was established through post-mortem as by shotgun shot. You can see the x-ray picture on the rspb birders twitter account and the shot and smashed wing is quite obvious even to my untrained eye.

    • Richard Ebbs says:

      "An x-ray revealed that the bird's wing bones had been smashed to pieces with lead shot" . Sounds pretty clear to me.

    • Anand Prasad says:

      RPUK says 'An x-ray revealed the bird’s wing bones had been smashed to pieces with lead shot.'

  5. Winn-D says:

    I had a similar instance a few years back of a female Peregrine chick ringed at an urban site in Kent then found dead a few months later on top of poisoned bait at an estate used for the manly sport of slow flying pheasant killing in Louth, Lincolnshire.

  6. Hilary McKay says:

    Can't believe it's the first urban fledgling to end this way. What do you think happens to eg. the peregrines fledged from Derby Cathedral every year? I live 20 miles north and am out in the countryside/ moorland every single day. Why don't I regularly see peregrines?

  7. Kevin Rush says:

    This wandering Peregrine (living up to its name) bears testimony to the futility of any kind of brood meddling for birds of prey. No doubt the relocated Harrier young would also wander the land before finding an attractive moorland, only to be blasted out of the sky.

  8. Paul V Irving says:

    Given that almost no young Peregrines are reared in grouse moor areas in the whole of England( and probably Scotland too). Indeed very few territories are occupied by adults in or around grouse moors. Probably all Peregrines killed by grouse shooting interests are reared elsewhere many of them from well watched and loved sites.
    If Peregrines were as restricted in nest site selection as harriers they would be just as rare---almost extinct in England. Remember its also happening to Goshawks and Short Eared Owls at the very least.

  9. Roderick Leslie says:

    I think Homer hit the nail on the head when he misprinted (I assume he meant taking) 'talking so long' - spot on for the Peak Park !

  10. Northern Diver says:

    "this is the first occasion when we know that an urban-bred Peregrine has been killed on or very near a driven grouse moor."

    Maybe not - remember this one?? Not far from grouse moors.


  11. Oliver Craig says:

    Of course the gamekeeping bunch and their employers will claim it wasn't them who did this, and the band played.

  12. Anand Prasad says:

    It was conservationists framing gamekeepers. Obviously and I hear the sound of zebras.

  13. john Miles says:

    All the evidence suggests that young peregrines fly from territory to territory as they start their new life [Roy Dennis satellite tagging in Scotland] So when you have over 72 unoccupied territories on Red Grouse moors a big proportion of these urban young will certainly feel the need to check them out and sadly pay the price.


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