Peregrine falcon pair found dead on Clee Hill from poisoning

A pair of breeding peregrine falcons have been found dead at a Shropshire site, leaving three vulnerable chicks in the nest.

One of the peregrine chicks left behind after its parents were found dead on Clee Hill
One of the peregrine chicks left behind after its parents were found dead on Clee Hill

RSPB officers believe the protected birds of prey, found dead at Clee Hill quarry, may have been deliberately poisoned.

Clee Hill is a notorious blackspot for the illegal killing of the birds, with four peregrines found poisoned with Diazinon there in recent years – two in 2010, one in 2011 and another in 2015.

Thanks to the swift action of Shropshire Peregrine Group, the RSPB and others, three chicks have been rescued and are currently receiving expert care at a rehabilitation centre, with hopes they will be placed in foster nests later this week.

RSPB investigations officer Tim Jones said he was called when one dead raptor was found next to nest, with the chicks left alone and vulnerable, on Wednesday.

He rushed to the scene with members of Shropshire Peregrine Group and rock climber Darren Thomas from Adventures Are Us.

"Driving round to view the crag where the nest was, we saw the dead adult peregrine, an extremely sad sight lying on its back on the grass," he said.

"Continuing on just a little further and I found the body of the other adult peregrine lying close to the original bird. A truly harrowing sight to see two of the fastest birds in the world lifeless on the ground.

"But there was still a chance to save the chicks. Knowing that the chicks were quite young – still fluffy and unable to protect themselves from the weather – it really was a race against time.

"Before long, after a tense descent in unfavourable weather, Darren was safely back on the ground with three fluffy peregrine chicks.

"As required to legally possess wild birds in these situations, we got the noisy chicks straight off to local vets for a check-up. After an 'all clear' from the vet, we gave the chicks their first feed in at least 24 hours.

"With the chicks now settled and content we had the heads up that Jean Thorpe who runs a brilliant rehabilitation centre near York had agreed to take the birds.

"Unfortunately, these kind of cases aren’t unusual in this job and I had strong suspicions. Nearby, we found a dead pigeon with its breast plucked clean, lying on its back almost directly above where the female peregrine was found. This was also carefully seized as an exhibit to be tested."

West Mercia Police wildlife crime officer PC David Walton said: "We urge anyone with information about the death of these magnificent birds to come forward, quoting incident ref 0676s of May 30.

"I believe that, had it not been for the fast action of all parties working together, we would have certainly lost the chicks as well as the adults, which look to have been poisoned," he said.

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News