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Old 19.03.2015, 14:33
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Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

In all my years working as a wildlife volunteer in the UK, I was sadly used to peregrine falcons and other raptors being poisoned by game-keepers and pigeon fanciers, particularly in Scotland and Yorkshire. Never thought this would happen in Switzerland too- as in my region of Romandie, pigeon-fancying is non-existent.

Two Peregrine females were found recently poisoned (remains of pigeon laced with poison found nearby) in Wallisellen near Zurich- two more in a long series in recent years. What a shame
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Old 19.03.2015, 14:42
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

That is awful!
In the UK my husband was a voluntary countryside ranger at the weekend, and I remember him spending many an hour guarding nesting peregrines.
Such beautiful birds, I hope they find whoever is responsible.
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Old 19.03.2015, 14:51
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

Well if anyone in that area has any ideas or suspicions- do pass them on to the police or the Vogelwarte (equivalent of UK RSPB).

Actually, I saw my first peregrines at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales- we sat on the limestone pavement at the top for hours watching them feed young on a ledge. Malham Cove is of course a smaller version of one of my favourite places in the world, and where I spent much of my childhood- Le Creux-du-Van in the Neuchâtel Jura. But although I saw many ibex (big horned sheep) and chamois when I was a child, I never saw a peregrine.

Mind you, one of my favourite bird when I go there now in Summer, is the sky lark- can't really see them, but you can here dozens singing their little heart out high up in the sky- wonderful. Also the home of the very elusive Tichodrome wall creeper, a small bird with a lovely bright grey body and the brightest of pink wings and long toes, used to creep along the cliff. A magical place- but if you do go, PLEASE respect the wonderful wildlife and flora.
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Old 19.03.2015, 14:54
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

Terrible news. And now the poor lad has only grim future down Romandie pit to look forward to.

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Old 19.03.2015, 14:56
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

You do know the difference between a kestrel and a peregrine, don't you?


The last pit in Romandie was closed in 1986! (you can visit too very interesting - the streets of London were paved with Travers asphalt until not that long ago).
My best friend's dad was the Manager- and she blackmailed him to let the pit horse out every week-end, or she would go on hungerstrike. I loved that horse too.
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Old 19.03.2015, 14:59
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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You do know the difference between a kestrel and a peregrine, don't you?
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Old 19.03.2015, 15:04
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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Well if anyone in that area has any ideas or suspicions- do pass them on to the police or the Vogelwarte (equivalent of UK RSPB).

Actually, I saw my first peregrines at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales- we sat on the limestone pavement at the top for hours watching them feed young on a ledge. Malham Cove is of course a smaller version of one of my favourite places in the world, and where I spent much of my childhood- Le Creux-du-Van in the Neuchâtel Jura. But although I saw many ibex (big horned sheep) and chamois when I was a child, I never saw a peregrine.

Mind you, one of my favourite bird when I go there now in Summer, is the sky lark- can't really see them, but you can here dozens singing their little heart out high up in the sky- wonderful. Also the home of the very elusive Tichodrome wall creeper, a small bird with a lovely bright grey body and the brightest of pink wings and long toes, used to creep along the cliff. A magical place- but if you do go, PLEASE respect the wonderful wildlife and flora.

You are bringing back some happy memories Odile. I remember youth hostelling around the Yorkshire Dales, I loved Malham, the cove, the tarn.

Where we are now we have our own resident red kite. We see it regularly flying over the trees and hills behind our flat, hunting I presume. Just now I saw a heron flying in the direction of Baden. Wonderful!
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Old 19.03.2015, 15:24
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

I don't know much about the birdies myself, but I think there many be two sides to this story.

I have neighbours at my holiday house in Spain who have racing pigeons. It is part of the homing game of the racing pigeons that there are pigeons of their social group (often the females and also the males too old or young to race) will be at home waiting for them and these will circle in the skies for hours on end waiting for the return of their friends and will call them until they return. They are very tame creatures will sometimes come into our garden to be fed. Some even respond to their names.

Occasionally some idiots intentionally unleash their falcon on the females and besides the birds killed (and then left to rot by the roadside, as the falcon won't eat them), this causes stress within the group and the birds will scatter and not return home. They are unable to fend for themselves in the wild and will often die a cruel death.
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Old 19.03.2015, 15:31
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

The Yorkshire Dales is also where I saw my first lapwing- of course once you 'know' one you'll always recognize their spatula shaped wings and strange flight. On my way from East Leics to Loughborough everyday, I used to encounter 100s.

Nobody here 'unleashes' peregrines to catch pigeons- it is just what they do best, in a natural setting. They of course do not know the difference between a wild pigeon and a 'fancied' one. One reason they are so popular in towns in the UK- as there are far too many pigeons. 1 pair has been nesting at the top of the Tate Modern on the South Bank (in London)- one of my daughters has her office there, and they are real entertainment. (the old OXO factory).

hannah'sa- we used to Youth Hostel all over the place when our kids where young and witz our school kids- the Peak District, Norfolk, Yorkshire Dales and Moors (our kids' favourites were 'Buggar all YHA (actually Boggle Hole... near Robbin Hoods Bay, and Hunstanton, where we had our 'dedicated' family room in that old Edwardian house. Happy Days.

The top of our Neuchâtel Jura mountains has always been red kite country- my heart soared when I saw my first one in the UK, at Rutland Water, a couple of years after they'd been re-introduced in North Northants (well OK, I cried). We have so many up here and buzzards too- and they often skim our roof and garden. Such a joy. WE also have resident kestrels and sparrowhawks that feed on our bird feeders- well on the sparrows on our bird feeders (nature... you can't fight it).

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Old 19.03.2015, 16:01
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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You are bringing back some happy memories Odile. I remember youth hostelling around the Yorkshire Dales, I loved Malham, the cove, the tarn.
Me too! We went to Stainforth with the school ( primary) for many years and it was brilliant. That youth hostel appears to have closed down in 2007 sadly.
We went to Ingelton and Malham a lot too. I remember doing the three peaks walk as part of my duke of Edinburgh Gold award in May and it was snowing as we were climbing Ingleborough.
Happy days.
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Old 19.03.2015, 16:24
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

Happy days indeed!
I think things have changed now, youth hostelling has gone a it more up-market. No more chores or sharing smelly dorms. I must be getting old, but I liked things as they were.
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Old 19.03.2015, 16:30
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

We are digressing a bit- but the first YHA to go posh, I think- was the first one we ever went to- way before it was poshified, near Dovedale at Ilam Hall. I used to take our girls, with a friend each, during Summer hols, in my Odile Mobile, my red 2CV- they loved it. The long drive was perfect for rollerskating, and alter rollerblading. We also used Hartington a lot.

Our girls were born 73 and 75- wo we started YHAing late 70s.

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Old 19.03.2015, 16:32
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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Happy days indeed!
I think things have changed now, youth hostelling has gone a it more up-market. No more chores or sharing smelly dorms. I must be getting old, but I liked things as they were.
I couldn't agree more. It was really fun back then. They're more like B&Bs these days.
You're not old at all. A mere spring chicken like me.
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Old 19.03.2015, 16:36
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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We are digressing a bit- but the first YHA to go posh, I think- was the first one we ever went to- way before it was poshified, near Dovedale at Ilam Hall. I used to take our girls, with a friend each, during Summer hols, in my Odile Mobile, my red 2CV- they loved it. The long drive was perfect for rollerskating, and alter rollerblading. We also used Hartington a lot.
Sorry Odile.

Still digressing The poshest one we ever went to was at Ambleside. Must be really posh now!
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Old 20.03.2015, 09:59
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

It's heartening to see that 20 Minuten have already identified the culprits.

It's the Serbians of course. Who else would do such an awful thing.

And their proof? Well, it's obvious. Something similar happened in Serbia so it muts be Serbians who did it.

First class journalism. Yee-haa.
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Old 20.03.2015, 10:09
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

Have not seen that, or the evidence or lack of- so difficult to comment. However it is possible that if there is no tradition of keeping racing pigeons in that area (as is the case here in the Far West)- but there is an active club with competitions, etc, run by people from a different nationality (Serbians, you say)- then I don't think it is necessarily unfair to come to the conclusions they might be the cultprits- especially if international experience about the 'sport' - shows clearly that poisoning birds of prey is common there. And if regular poisoning of peregrines coincided with the start of those acitivites. Perhaps?

Most people know that birds are not protected in Southern Europe, especially the Med, Malta, etc. It's bad enough in France... and there are official bodies that gather evidence of poisoning, trapping, gluing, shooting, netting, etc, for each country with a poor record on bird protection. The UK RSPB, Swiss Vogelwarte, and lots of other similar organisations in Europe do share and gather evidence/intelligence all the time, and have a pretty good idea of what's going on. They get shot at too and threatened too, btw.

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Old 21.03.2015, 13:41
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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Most people know that birds are not protecting in Southern Europe, especially the Med, Malta, etc. It's bad enough in France... and there are official bodies that gather evidence of poisoning, trapping, gluing, shooting, netting, etc, for each country with a poor record on bird protection..
Don't know about the rest of south €urope but here on Malta the spring hunting is very regulated indeed, with expensive licenses and strict quota and woe betide the hunter who goes over the limit, that is when the government cracks down bħal ton ta 'briks and issue fines that would give your Swiss bureaucrat a night-boner.
On the 11th April there will be a referendum on a permanent hunting ban, I am gonna vote too for the first time come to think about it.
Also on the other hand the Maltese hunters go for Quail and Turtle dove both of which are listed as of the least concern.
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Old 21.03.2015, 17:36
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

I hope there is a law against hunters shooting people in Malta. Won betide you if you are walking in the country with a companion near a hide and dare to talk to them. The hunters shout obscenities, fire shots in the air, and goodness knows what else. Quite spoils the fun of walking.

But then, one could say many other things about the hunting of songbirds in Malta too!
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Old 21.03.2015, 18:40
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

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Don't know about the rest of south €urope but here on Malta the spring hunting is very regulated indeed ...

I wish you were 'joking' here- but the terrible record of Malta re illegal netting, trapping, gluing of song birds is so well-known in 'bird' circles- and so is the poisoning and shooting of all birds of prey. Any search on the internet, or any bird relating website or association like the RSPB and Vogelwarte- will give tons of info on the above. I used to be a volunteer at the British Bird Fair in Rutland evey year- and it was so well documented by so many bird specialists- asking bird watchers to boycott Malta. Plenty of videos out there showing the shooting of bird of prey, gluing and trapping of song birds- and the outrageously violent behaviour of hunters/shooters when 'challenged'.

From The Telegraph on 15th March 2015:

The Republic of Malta, which consists of several densely populated chunks of limestone with collectively less than twice the area of the District of Columbia, is the most savagely bird-hostile place in Europe. There are twelve thousand registered hunters (about three per cent of the country’s population), a large number of whom consider it their birthright to shoot any bird unlucky enough to migrate over Malta, regardless of the season or the bird’s protection status. The Maltese shoot bee-eaters, hoopoes, golden orioles, shearwaters, storks, and herons. They stand outside the fences of the international airport and shoot swallows for target practice. They shoot from urban rooftops and from the side of busy roads. They stand in closely spaced cliffside bunkers and mow down flocks of migrating hawks. They shoot endangered raptors, such as lesser spotted eagles and pallid harriers, that governments farther north in Europe are spending millions of euros to conserve. Rarities are stuffed and added to trophy collections; non-rarities are left on the ground or buried under rocks, so as not to incriminate their shooters. When bird-watchers in Italy see a migrant that’s missing a chunk of its wing or its tail, they call it “Maltese plumage.”
In the nineteen-nineties, in the runup to Malta’s accession to the E.U., the government began to enforce an existing law against shooting non-game species, and Malta became a cause célèbre among groups as far-flung as the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which sent volunteers to assist with law enforcement. As a result, in the words of a British volunteer I spoke to, “the situation has gone from being diabolical to merely atrocious.” But Maltese hunters, who argue that the country is too small for its shooting to make a meaningful dent in European bird populations, fiercely resent what they see as foreign interference in their “tradition.” The national hunters’ organization, the Federazzjoni Ka aturi Nassaba Konservazzjonisti, said in its April, 2008, newsletter, “FKNK believes that the police’s work should only be done by Maltese police and not by arrogant foreign extremists who think Malta is theirs because it’s in the EU.”
When, in 2006, the local bird group BirdLife Malta hired a Turkish national, Tolga Temuge, a former Greenpeace campaigns director, to launch an aggressive campaign against illegal hunting, hunters were reminded of Malta’s siege by the Turks, in 1565, and reacted with explosive rage. The F.K.N.K.’s general secretary, Lino Farugia, inveighed against “the Turk” and his “Maltese lackeys,” and there ensued a string of threats and attacks on BirdLife’s property and personnel. A BirdLife member was shot in the face; three cars belonging to BirdLife volunteers were set on fire; and several thousand young trees were uprooted at a reforestation site that hunters resent for its competition with the main island’s only other forest, which they control and shoot roosting birds in. As a widely read hunters magazine explained in August, 2008, “there is a limit to what extent one can expect to stretch the strong moral ties and values of Maltese families and stop their Latin blood from boiling over and expect them to give up their land and culture in a cowardly retreat.”


Mind you, to be fair, it is just as bad in Cyprus and other med countries.

Last edited by Odile; 21.03.2015 at 19:03.
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Old 21.03.2015, 19:21
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Re: Pigeon fanciers and peregrine falcons- sad news

The Telegraph is not fully informed
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles...ogation.560788

Only two species are "officially" allowed to be hunted and things have changed somewhat since 2006, little steps but the trend is there.
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles...-hunter.536142

I am quite looking forward to the referendum on the eleventh.
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