The project is a joint working project with the CNPA, Highland Foundation for Wildlife, PAW Scotland, SNH, RSPB and various land managers throughout the Cairngorms National Park. There are three main aims of the project:
- Raise awareness of raptor species within the Cairngorms National Park
- Gain information on raptor movements and their behaviour in the Park the Park
- Raise awareness and act as a deterrent to wildlife crime
The majestic sight of an eagle soaring amongst the mountains is an iconic image that many people associate with freedom and wildness. The magical Harry Potter has introduced the stunning snowy owl to many people around the globe. However, few people are aware that there are 18 species of raptor within our moorlands and forests of the National Park. Some are resident here all year, others flying thousands of miles to breed or winter here, making the Cairngorms National Park an important area globally. This project aims to promote awareness and understanding of these stunning flying predators.
Individual bird movements are extremely difficult to determine. With the invention of satellite tags it is now possible to remotely identify where birds are moving to. In order to conserve a species it is imperative to gain as much information as possible into the requirements of individual species. Peregrine, hobby and hen harrier have never been tagged in the UK before, so this project will provide a unique insight into these birds’ movements. The information gathered from the satellite tags will provide valuable information to enable us to conserve these species.
This is particularly important in the creation of windfarms.Turbines are a fantastic source of green energy and the government has a drive to increase the amount of green energy produced. However, if these wind turbines are not sited carefully, they can have detrimental impacts on the population of birds. The information gathered from these birds will help inform the planning process of wind energy generation out with and inside the Cairngorms National Park.
Birds of prey have been persecuted for hundreds of years, through the collection of their eggs, destruction of nests, or as predator control on a minority of grouse shooting estates. Persecution was particularly prevalent before World War II when large areas of the UK were heavily managed. Post World War II intensive farming practices reduced and heavily fragmented important raptor habitats, combined with pesticide use, which reduced food sources. All these factors combined have resulted in dramatic declines in the raptor population, leading to many species gaining statutory protection.
Today these raptors are still viewed as a threat to grouse moorlands with a small number of estates actively and illegally controlling these species. The prevention of wildlife crime has been identified as an objective in the Cairngorms National Park Plan and this project is a response to raptor persecution. In the past it has been very difficult to determine the perpetrators of wildlife crimes. The fitting of satellite tags allows the birds’ last known movements to be identified, which has led to several cases of wildlife crime being detected.
See http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/paw-scotland/ for further information.
On a happier note
Management for grouse has been shown to increase some biodiversity of our moorlands, particularly ground nesting birds such as skylarks and golden plovers. Many estates take pride in the conservation efforts that are undertaken. Several studies are being carried out to demonstrate the best practise moorland management and to provide methods by which raptors co-exist with grouse moorlands. An example of this is at Glen Tanar estate in Deeside trialling supplementary feeding of golden eagles and our satellite tracked hen harriers partly to reduce predation on red grouse and partly to create wildlife watching opportunities.
Karen Coupar CNPA