Raptor or rapture?
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Raptor or rapture?

Kilsyth : United Kingdom | Jul 03, 2012 at 7:56 AM PDT
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Buzzard Research & Ringing Scotland

There is a class war going on in Scotland, not amongst people initially, but with Raptors or Birds of Prey.

Scotland has in recent times reintroduced Birds of prey. First it was the osprey then white tailed sea eagles. Others that were in danger of extinction were protected by government laws. Protected from Landowners and their gamekeepers, who took perverse delight in killing Buzzards, Golden eagles , Pergrines, Goshawks etc. At one time Buzzards and red Kites were so numerous in victorian Britain that their numbers equaled that of Starlings in the towns. They were scavengers and cleared up what humans discarded.Buzzards and Kites have made an astonishing comeback regularly seen in our skies. Unfortunatly a Buzzard was caught on camera stealing an Osprey chick from its nest. That one recorded incident has created such an uproar that now there are calls for them to be culled.Also the reintroduced Sea Eagle is now being accused of stealing lambs from crofters, again calls for them to be culled. Wait a minute here, do folk think that nature is all neat and tidy and clean? when watching a Lion tear a buffalo to bits, how many hands are raised in horror.We love our animals and wildlife as long as it is sterilisewd and safe and clean and dare i say it twee.

Owls are also struggling especially barn owls. The habitat of this majestic creature is fast disappearing barns are now turned into homes for the select few who can afford them. The poor barn owl is not even considered.Changes in habitat affect other owls too. Trees being felled, moorland being drained and light pollution also disadvantages them.lack of food is another aspect to the disappearance of these beautiful creatures. Rodents such as voles, mice, etc disappear with the sanitisation of the countryside therfore reducing the numbers of the predators. Pigeon fanciers are quick to blame predators for losses, yes a Peregrine will attack a pigeon, they cant tell the difference between a racing bird and a common rock dove. But to accuse Peregrine of "murdering" a pigeon is quite preposterous. Im afraid that the concept of murder is not in a Pergrines vocabularly.Unfortunately it is in human terms and the fanciers want to "cull" or "murder" Pergrines, Sparrowhawks and Kestrels. The amusing thing is these fanciers rate themselves as country lovers. What about the lung disease that aflicts pigeon owners, its as bad as the lung disease that miners catch. Pigeon lung comes from the dust mites in pigeon waings and feathers.Also at the last count their was only about 1200 breeding pairs of Pergrines in the whole of Britain. Try and count the number of pigeons wild and domestic, not easy is it? One loft alone can carry about two hundred birds. Raptors are also accused of killing and eating songbirds, yes they do but so do magpies,Crows,ravens etc.In fact ravens can also take lambs. cats and Dogs and sometimes unsavoury types can kill pigeons when they rest during a long race.

Why is it in this country of Scotland that we here all this hue and cry? In a country of Five million sheep, more than the population, why cant we allow the raptors a lamb now and again. Why dont sheep farmers leave out lambs that die in birth or of bad weather conditions for the raptors to eat and clear away. The corvids alraedy do this? landowners can instruct their gamekeepers to release poults (young pheasants) a little later than they do at present, buzzards will not attack a bigger bird.

All we ask for is common sense in dealing with this matter. Im sure we can all live in harmony, we really have to.Who wants a sanitise country side?

Andrew McIntyre is based in Kilsyth, Scotland, United Kingdom, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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