Birdwatchers raise £2,200 to find more information on rare falcon killed near Whittlesey

The dead falcon

The dead falcon

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Birdwatchers have raised £2,200 to find out more information on the shooting of a rare red-footed falcon which was found dead near Whittlesey last month.

The news service Rare Bird Alert, which called the killing ‘scandalous’, is adding its money to the £1,000 sum put up by the RSPB to encourage people with information on the shooting to come forward.

The money has been raised in the last few days with £1,800 donated in the first 24 hours of the donation page being launched.

A post-mortem examination carried out after the body was passed to the RSPB has confirmed that the bird, a young (sub-adult) male, had been recently shot and that this was the cause of death.

The Rare Bird Alert said the falcon had spent a month at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery in Staffordshire and nearly the same amount of time at Willow Tree Fen near Spalding.

In a statement it said: “A scarce annual visitor to Britain, this beautiful bird was confiding and gave wonderful views - and much joy - to the large number of people who saw it.

“We applaud the RSPB’s response, and the tireless and often thankless work they do trying to bring to justice those who illegally persecute our protected birds of prey.

“However, we want to raise even more money to add to the reward fund to encourage anyone with information to come forward. We also want to send a strong message that these kinds of crimes against wildlife are socially unacceptable and birders and all lovers of wildlife have had enough.”

Red-footed falcons, a protected bird of prey, are rare visitors to the UK from the nearest breeding population in Eastern Europe from where they migrate to Sub-Saharan Africa to spend the winter.

They are listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species.

The Rare Bird Alert added: “Any funds raised will be added to the RSPB’s £1,000 reward for information about this scandalous killing.

“However, if the reward is not paid out, the money will still be put to extremely good use and all of it will be donated to Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC).

“This voluntary group set up only two years ago have organised events such as Hen Harrier Day and the ‘Eyes In The Field’ Wildlife Crime Conference.

“Donations will help them continue to raise awareness about raptor persecution and all other wildlife crimes.

“BAWC will use it to promote their 3Rs campaign – helping everyone to Recognise, Record, and Report wildlife crime.

“Please consider pledging, however small or large the amount, and send a message to the persecutors of our raptors and other wildlife. Let’s make sure they know that they are in the minority and their crimes belong in the past.

“Together we can Crowd out Wildlife Criminals.”

To donate, visit: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/rarebirdalert

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Rare falcon shot and killed near Whittlesey