Marsh harriers and white-tailed eagles

A few days ago my post about deer stalking led to conversation about predators. Here in Britain, people have often killed predators. But in modern times the law protects rare species including the marsh harrer (Circus aeruginosus) and the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Aren’t they breathtaking?

Cases of predator persecution do happen. When the police catch people breaking these laws, it’s taken seriously. Other people admire these wonderful creatures and would never hurt them. My fellow blogger petrel41 tells us about poisoning of marsh harriers but tourism to see white-tailed eagles.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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18 Responses to Marsh harriers and white-tailed eagles

  1. Missus Tribble says:

    Many years ago I was in a hide at Cley Marsh, an RSPB reserve on North Norfolk, when I saw a Marsh Harrier hovering around; it came swooping down on an Avocet chick.

    Amazing creatures.

    • argylesock says:

      Wow I’m well jel! Poor little avocet but even so, I’d love to see what you saw.

      Thinking today about how I’m calm about deer culling and badger culling, if done by skilled shooters who kill cleanly; yet I’d be against any plan to cull birds of prey. All these creatures are fabulous. For me the difference is that deer populations need controlling, badger populations don’t need controlling (at least, not for the TB reason) and bird-of-prey populations don’t need controlling because those species are rare.

      • Missus Tribble says:

        You already know how strongly I feel about birds of prey and Badgers – I’m alaso very much anti-hunt.

        Birds of prey definitely don’t need controlling. Farmers welcome them because they’re nature’s pest control, some are rare and ALL are beautiful.

        We had a Sparrowhawk on our fence a few weeks ago. I don’t know if she was the same one that landed here three years ago but we were delighted to see her. Just as long as she leaves my Robin alone 🙂

        • argylesock says:

          Iirc you’re against the badger cull, is that so? Researching my posts about badgers for this blog, I did wonder whether this species is approaching pest status because it damages hedges and buildings. But I’ve seen no science about that. The question in people’s minds seems to be ‘Do badgers spread bovine TB?’ and the answer seems to be ‘No.’ Hence I’m anti-cull for that species. I’m pro-cull for several other species though – notably rabbits, rats and woodpigeons.

          You’re right that I’m against culling birds of prey. My opinion could change if they became numerous enough to be pests, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen. For foxes I’m undecided, and imo if culling them were needed at all, hunting them with dogs wouldn’t be a good method.

          • Missus Tribble says:

            Yes I am very, very much against Badger culling. I can’t see any good reason for it, unless they manage to endanger their own survival by overpopulating themselves (as deer frequently do – which is why I’m in favour of deer culling to preserve the security and health of these wonderful creatures).

            I’m definitely in favour of culling rabbits and wood pigeons because they can become so numerous that they become a danger to their own species and a scourge to crops. Birds of prey help in this area to a degree, but one lone Kestrel can’t protect an entire field from hundreds of pests.

            I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but there’s a farm on the Herefordshire/Wales border that dumps about a ton of raw meat each day for the Red Kites who reside in the nearby hills. Nothing is more amazing than seeing hundreds of these incredible birds swooping down all at the same time and seeing their beauty close up and personal. They are still endangered so I think it’s wonderful that one small farm is caring about their situation.

            • argylesock says:

              Yes I’ve heard of that Welsh/Herefordshire farm. Me, I just look from my kitchen window and sometimes see red kites 🙂 The Harewood Estate is near here. Before moving to Yorkshire I used to see red kites where the M40 cuts through the Chilterns You’d love those birds, I think.

              Thank you for agreeing about the need to cull certain species. Our ancestors have lived on this land for a very long time and what we’ve inherited is far from being natural.

              • Missus Tribble says:

                I once had a debate about deer culling with somebody who was absolutely against it. When I said that those culled would only starve to death anyway and so culling was quicker and kinder they told me I was heartless! Because a clean shot through the head is far worse than allowing a pack animal to become emaciated and sick…

                • argylesock says:

                  I’m gestating a blog post about the Soay sheep which do indeed starve to death.

                  • Missus Tribble says:

                    That’s awful! Is it because of overpopulation or a destruction of their natural habitat? Either way, we as humans have the tools to do the right thing one way or the other.

                    I just found out that Brian May CBE PhD Has sent an e-petition to the government to stop Badger culling. I wish I’d known – I’d have signed it and so would D!

  2. Carol Hague says:

    I was lucky enough to see a white-tailed eagle on my recent holiday in Scotland – they’re truly magnificent birds.They’re apparently nicknamed “barn doors” on account of their enormous wingspan.

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