Normally…

This is one of those familiar x-rays of a shot raptor – see the pellets? I’m not at my best when identifying dead birds from x-rays but this is apparently a Red Kite. And Gloucestershire police would like anyone with information to step forward…

I noticed that someone commented on this subject that they wouldn’t have a clue where they were a month or more ago, and I have a lot of sympathy for that view. Except in this case, because it is in the Cotswolds, in mid March, I probably would know where I was. Normally I would be in the vicinity of Cheltenham racecourse for several days at that time of year, and it so happens that 12 March was Gold Cup day. Now I haven’t been to the Friday of the Cheltenham Festival of Racing for a good few years, restricting my visits to the far better first three days of the racing. Gold Cup day is overcrowded and the quality of the racing is not as good as the other three days – except for the big race itself. And, clearly, there were no crowds at this year’s Gold Cup. So, I have an alibi, for sure.

But normally I would have driven right past Salperton – it’s on part of our clever way in to the racecourse avoiding the crowds – several times that week. I have passed this fine , new wall by the side of the road at Salperton Hall many times;

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.8742421,-1.9017875,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s3hiKvjIWydL22NFTJnAKUg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

That wall will have cost an absolute fortune to restore to that high level of quality for such a length. Nice bit of work though.

And I have often seen Red Kites on the stretch of road immediately before and the one immediately after the location of this image on Google ‘street’ view. So I may have seen the very Red Kite which makes such a sad sight in x-ray. Just down the road is the area where birders and photographers often assemble to watch Short-eared and Barn Owls in winter evenings, and where I’ve seen Hen Harriers a few times too. So any raptor-hater with a gun might do even more damage.

Lots of Pheasants running around on these roads normally though, and quite a few Red-legged Partridges in the area too.

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6 Replies to “Normally…”

  1. What a shame and very sad to see a red kite like this. They are magnificent wild birds. Once again the shooters have excelled themselves plying their nasty vicious trade illegally.

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  2. As always with a beautiful and fully protected raptor is shot ( or poisoned or killed in a trap) I am made hugely angry by the event. These birds have been protected for over 60, yes 60 years, one would have thought the whole population had got the message by now. As to the criminal Rsole who shot this bird and the similar beings who do it with seeming impunity in various parts of the UK, usually but not quite always in areas associated with driven game shooting, I have nothing but contempt for you and your so called pastime. If it was up to me any convicted culprit would not only be jailed ( sadly we don't have the stocks or pillory anymore) but would also loose their gun licence FOR LIFE. Yet again a reason as to why driven game shooting and the release of alien living targets for these inadequate criminals and their equally contemptable pals was banned.

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  3. I am not sure that not being at Cheltenham Race Course on the day in question constitutes an alibi but I am still pretty confident that you were not the perpetrator of this crime, Mark!

    Joking aside, the question of how anyone can be expected to remember what they were doing a month or more ago and what they may have observed whilst doing it, is a pertinent one. One wonders what the justification is for waiting a month before publicising the crime and asking for witnesses to come forward. It is, at best, a poor indication of the efficiency of the police in progressing the case and it does little to support the contention that addressing wildlife crime is a priority for the government or its agencies.

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  4. It sounds quite a good area for birds of prey, and probably fairly safe too. There's always the odd bad apple.

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    1. That argument is getting very tired and long in the tooth to be credible anymore. Besides which it is only believable if the local good apples shop him before the whole carton is festering, that this doesn't happen speaks volumes about shooting and it is not good is it?

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