Licencing of gamebird shooting in Scotland

Last week a very interesting article was published on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website as part of our 50 for the Future series of guest blogs which outline 50 things that we believe should happen in Scotland over the next 50 years to benefit both people and wildlife.

The subject of this particular blog, written by Stuart Housden (Director of RSPB Scotland), was the need to introduce a licensing system for gamebird shooting. I won’t go into all the details of what Stuart said as you can read the article for yourselves here.

However, in a nutshell the argument can be boiled down to the following points:

  • The intensive management of large swathes of our uplands, particularly for driven red grouse shooting, is causing significant and widespread environmental damage, with consequences for both people and wildlife.
  • Frequent rotational burning of heather on grouse moors has serious impacts including the drying out of deep peat soils which can lead to increased carbon emissions, habitat fragmentation, soil erosion and flood risk.
  • Bird of prey populations in areas where driven grouse shooting is prevalent continue to be suppressed by illegal persecution as they are considered a threat to game stocks, and there is large scale culling of mountain hares and wild deer aimed at preventing the spread of ticks and thus control grouse diseases.
  • If well managed our uplands have the potential to provide a range of public goods and services including carbon storage, clean drinking water and large protected areas for wildlife, as well as recreation and tourism opportunities.
  • Along with the rest of the UK, Scotland has one of the most intensively managed and least regulated hunting systems in Europe and North America. The gamebird shooting industry has clearly shown itself to be incapable of or unwilling to self-regulate, therefore it is time for a system of licencing to be introduced to ensure that sporting estates are following best practice environmental management and delivering wider public benefits. Where estates are found to be acting outwith the law or causing significant environmental damage they could have their shooting rights revoked, firearms certificates withdrawn and lose government subsidies.

The Scottish Raptor Study Group has recently launched a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for the introduction of just such a system. It has the backing of Scottish Wildlife Trust and the RSPB and I would urge you to show your support by signing the petition on the Scottish Government website.

Here’s the link: https://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01615

Anyone can sign the petition regardless of whether they live in Scotland or not – all that is required is your name, email address and where you live.

The petition is live until 22nd August.

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Osprey Tracking Update: FR3 on the move!

Over eight months of relatively little activity has finally come to an end for FR3. During the past fortnight our young osprey, fledged from the nest at Loch of the Lowes in 2015, has been travelling east from “home” on the bolon (creek) near Bulok, revisiting places last seen in October.

FR3's movements between 9th & 24th July 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s movements between 9th & 24th July 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3 left Bulok sometime after 11am on 10th July and by 12pm was in the vicinity of Kandonk. He stayed here for the next 13 days exploring the bolon to the SW of the village.

FR3's activity within the bolon near Kandonk ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity within the bolon near Kandonk ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

After 12pm on 23rd July FR3 set off once again travelling further east to his last recorded location at 7am on 24th, SE of Kassagne within the Bintang Bolon floodplain (link to photo).

The rainy season in the Gambia traditionally begins in late June. Perhaps a change in the weather conditions which may have led to rising water levels on the creeks has triggered FR3’s move inland? It will be interesting to see how far east our young osprey goes.

Jonathan

 

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Summer weekend at Lowes

Garry at Perth

Garry at Perth Museum

Yesterday, Loch of the Lowes’ team took part in ‘Go Wild’, a children’s activity with the aim to make children more aware of the Scottish wildlife that can be spotted in Perthshire and in the highlands. The activity was held and organised by Perth Museum.
A good number of children turned up andcame visiting our stand, all enthusiastic to draw ospreys, create osprey masks, meet Garry the Osprey and learn more about the life of an Osprey and Loch of the Lowes. Information was given to their parents about upcoming activities in the reserve.

 

Today, things were a bit lively at Loch of the Lowes. A Kingfisher was spotted flying next to the Crannog hide, by one of our volunteers. The Osprey fledglings have mastered the art of flying and now they are starting to practice fishing and diving. Two of the fledglings were seen trying to dive but changed their minds at the last second and aborted the dive; a thrilling sight!

Two intruding Ospreys came to the area earlier today, but they were quickly chased off by LM12 and LF15.

And don’t forget that tomorrow afternoon, Hebe Carus from Scottish Wildcat Action will be at Lowes to give a fascinating talk on the plight of one of Scotland’s most endangered mammals and what is being done to save them from extinction.

Chris Cachia Zammit

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Wildcats in the Angus Glens

This coming Sunday afternoon, Hebe Carus from Scottish Wildcat Action will be giving a fascinating talk on the plight of one of Scotland’s most endangered mammals and what is being done to save them from extinction. The talk which is from 2-3pm is free to attend but donations to Scottish Wildcat Action are welcome.

For more information on Scottish Wildlife Action visit their website.

Wildcat talk-page-0

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And then there were none (well not quite)…

No, you haven’t been imagining and empty nest – our third chick has finally flown the nest!

KP2 fledged on Saturday morning just before we arrived on site at around 9.10am. He was seen awkwardly flying around the big silver birch tree before landing again, strengthening the muscles in his wings in preparation for his migration.

We would expect the chicks to leave by the end of August, so there is still plenty of time for you to get some sightings in before they leave. The female on the other hand, will be departing fairly soon as her job has now been completed: she has fed and protected her young to (almost) independence, and now must prepare herself for her long flight home.

It is now down to the male to continue to bring the chicks fish, to ensure they are in optimum condition to make their perilous maiden journey southwards. Most ospreys migrate to West Africa but it has become increasingly clear that some birds only go as far as Spain, Portugal or southern France.

They will return to the UK in 2-3 years, when they come of breeding age. The male is often the last to leave, once all three chicks have departed (separately). He should then also be the first to arrive in March next year, although that wasn’t the case this year when our female LF15 was kept waiting.

We should have the video of the moment KP2 fledged up on the Scottish Wildlife Trust YouTube channel by tomorrow but in the meantime you can view it on Twitter.

Jonathan

 

 

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Webcam disruption

Apologies for the disruption to the webcams over the weekend. This was caused by a power cut. Both cameras are now back up and running.

Osprey webcam: http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/things-to-do/wildlife-webcams/loch-of-lowes/

People’s Postcode Lottery Squirrelcam: http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/things-to-do/wildlife-webcams/loch-of-lowes2/

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