Friday, 10 June 2016

Red-Footed Falcon at Chatterley Whitfield!

One of the biggest surprises of July 2015 was the appearance of a young Red-Footed Falcon in Staffordshire. The 1st summer male chose a small horse paddock adjacent to an old coilry site, and often gave simply mindblowing views- Often assisted (perhaps wrongly) by provisioned feeding by photographer for better photographs.

The bird was first located while I was away on university fieldwork in the Lake District however when we arrived back, I caught the first train up to Stoke- with my suitcase in tow- to attempt to see the bird. I have only seen one previous RFF in the UK, a stonking full adult at Lakenheath, so I was very hopeful to catch up with this one. Luckily, the Clipsons came to the rescue, and picked me up from the station. A short drive later and we were soon enjoying crippling views of what was a superb Falcon!

As soon as we arrived, the bird was showing well, doing its best to not fall of the overhead wires in the fairly strong winds.

As time went, the bird still resided in its paddock, gradually becoming more and more tame, and then the controversy started. Firstly, two men pulled up in a van and attempted to catch the bird, provoking a response from the Police who suggested the immediate cessation of feeding by photographers. Most duly obliged, but the story of this bird didn't end there.

The bird vacated Staffordshire, and then moved over to Linconshire, where it resided at a small nature reserve for a while, continuing to provide good views to a host of appreciative audiences. The bird departed, and the story seemingly ended...

And then the eventful journey of this amazing falcon came to a catastrophic end, when news emerged that the bird had sadly been found shot in Cambridgeshire soon after it departed Linconshire. This sparked a fully justifiable wall of outrage on many social media sites, and the bird made regional and national news outlets. The bird that had caused so much joy and ended its journey by a seemingly random act of persecution. Funds were raised by conservation companies to aid the identification of the criminals however as yet, there has been no result of this, nor the police investigation. Only time will tell.

A superb bird, which met a fateful end.

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