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Raptor Persecution on our doorstep – Alan and Saffra

Alan Smith and Saffra Wright attended the BMC Peak Area Meeting as we had a particular interest in seeing the presentation by the RSPB and Derbyshire Police Wildlife Crimes Unit on Raptor persecution.
PC Emerson Buckingham of Derbyshire Wildlife Crime Unit gave an overview of different types of traps which are used in the Peak District some of which are legal and some of which are illegal.The context of how the trap is set sometimes determines if the trap is legal or not. For example a wire snare can legally be used to trap foxes but it is illegal to snare badgers. If the snare is set too low (in general under 9″ is considered too low) then it is probably illegal as the intended quarry is not foxes. Snares and other traps should be checked every 24 hrs and if this is not being undertaken then again it the traps are being used illegally.
PC Buckingham also emphasised that traps, such as the Fentrap – Mark 4, which may be set perfectly legally on the ground become illegal if placed (set) on a fence post. This is all connected with the target quarry of the trap, as if a trap on a fence post is discovered it is likely that the intended quarry is a raptor. His advice was that if a trap is found on a fence post to knock it off with a stick and photograph (and an OS grid ref is probably useful also). It is very important not to touch the traps as they can snap shut forcefully and damage fingers and hands. There are traps which are completely legal and these cannot legally be unset but a trap on a fence post will always be illegal. If in doubt he stated that he does not mind being contacted and sent a photo and neither would any other staff member of the wildlife crime unit. Snares can only be used for foxes legally. It
gets more complicated when it has to be considered if the snares are free-running (legal) or self-locking (illegal – due to animal welfare). So it’s worth contacting the unit if in doubt as obviously it is quite complicated and worth verifying before taking any personal action.
Mark Thomas of the RSPB emphasised the covert nature of operations of his unit and how they work with the Wildlife Crime Unit. Most of their work comprises collecting evidence for the CPS and assisting with police investigations. Mark emphasised that ring ouzel and even dipper have been found dead in Fentraps on posts as well as raptors. Mark also pointed put the stark contrast between raptor numbers in the White Peak, where they thrive, in comparison with the dark Peak where raptors are virtually absent. Obviously the significant correlation being with the location of grouse moors being in the Dark Peak.
The evidence that Mark presented showing that gamekeepers are responsible for many raptor deaths was compelling and graphic. A very interesting example showed that raptors die of natural causes in West Africa, in very remote locations, they are always found (the body is found) due to the satellite tag still be able to transmit even when the bird has died. That has been contrasted with raptors going missing on grouse moors where the tag simply stops transmitting so that even the dead bird can’t be found. Clearly the tags are being removed and destroyed in order to hide the criminal evidence.
Both speakers emphasised strongly that wildlife crime and specifically raptor persecution was a major problem in Derbyshire, with the Dark Peak, in particular, being a hotspot for it. Many members of the audience raised examples of traps they had found and asked questions about what could be done. Both speakers were clear that 999 should be called without hesitation should a definite wildlife crime be being witnessed. If the witness is less sure or it is evidence collecting rather than an active crime happening (perhaps if you find a suspicious raptor carcass or suspected poisoned bait) then PC Buckingham can be emailed with the details (probably with photos as appropriate) or there is a confidential Raptor Crime Hotline 0300 999 0101. This is very useful for people who perhaps work on an estate already or are perhaps on the property for another reason, with landowners permission, and might not want to jeopardise their current status. This is a free number and can easily be found with a simple google search.
In addition to the above the discussion it is timely in that a new study (published in Nature Communications on 19th March 2019) has recently revealed that a 10 year study has shown that hen harriers are ten times more likely to die or disappear on grouse moors than elsewhere. The data is compelling, highly statistically significant and is considered to represent irrefutable science based evidence of illegal persecution on grouse moors. The data set comprised a suitable large sample size over a suitably long study period to show this beyond reasonable doubt. More details on this report can be found at www.rarebirdalert.co.uk  or raptorpersecutionscotland

Crazy English Summer – By Tim

Keen to make the most of the balmy or was it barmy summer weather a few hardy souls decided to head out to New Mills Torr for a rather unusual February Tuesday evening meet.

Well it certainly was a nice change to another indoor session at rope race or the substation.

Saffra & Simon took on Alcove Crack, Flake Crack.  Meanwhile after a quick warmup on Deception to Original Route Mark, Bec & Tim set their sights on the chossy delights of Deception.

As the light started to fail we all moved onto the bridge, Mark pulling out a decent lead inside & Simon on the outside, then it was headtorches on, a lot of floundering in the dark – my first time on the bridge & 1st with a torch, turns out both are tougher than I’d hoped.

 

Anyway, it might be a stretch to call it fun, but it made for some great photos

 

Tim.

Tuesday Meets List Added

The Tuesday Nights are getting ;lighter, it will not be long till we will be obsessively checking the weather every Tuesday at 3pm. The first Tuesday will be the 26th March at New Mills by floodlight  and then Windgather the week after.

The meets have been put together by Adrian (Thanks!) and can be found here .

They will be on the google calendar as soon as I get round to putting them on

If you don’t go, You don’t know….. By James

After 3 nights skiing – I couldn’t find Kirsten’s Wall of Death, more details please Adrian. I went searching for weekend partners. A barrage of excuses followed (its my birthday so I can’t come out – feeble!) but fortunately Stu was keen.
kind
A leisurely 9 am start at Barber Booth and we were heading up Crowden Clough. It didn’t look good. But low and behold a short ice pitch right at the very top was our reward.
We decided to head across the plateau to the Downfall just to put our minds at rest and confirm it wasn’t frozen before heading over to our back up plan.
Well we head a pleasant surprise when we got there, certainly complete and no other climbers. A quick sandwich and we were gearing up at the base.
After that it was simply pure joy straight up an icy staircase to the icicle, a not big enough sling runner, then traverse on good ice and some ball bearings and up the chimney corner to finish, a long held dream realised.
We walked back in the fading twilight. Bum slides down a snow covered Jacob’s Ladder are a lot better than the summer slog. A super day, super route, super company.
Kinder 4
P.S. A cold sunny Saturday afternoon with no other climbers about is definitely a better time to make an attempt than queuing for hours in the middle of a mild Thursday night when most of the first half of the route has already fallen down.
Photos by Stuart

Four go biking in the snow (plus Rob squeezes enough wee out to be useful – no honestly read on!)

On the last day of really good snow conditions in the Buxton area (before the Atlantic mild conditions swept in overnight).

It was cold but gloriously sunny when we set off from Buxton at 10.45. Cycling to Harper Hill on clear roads, we then soon went off road on the fairly new bridleway that goes up to Staker Hill. This was snowy under wheel from the start and consistently uphill, on the steeper sections the snow became deep enough to stop progress. Just what we wanted!

We arrived nearly at the crest of the hill when my freehub ceased to function, the pedals going round, but no engagement with the drivetrain. After banging the back wheel on the ground hard a few times, which did no good, we stood around for a bit going through the various options. Emma Jo had heard that in these cold conditions, if you urinate on the freehub the warmth could possibly get it working again. Well, I thought, “I don’t want anyone pissing on my bike”, but after a few more attempts, I gave up knocking the back wheel.

We stood around for a few minutes, Derek and I looked at each other and shrugged, no desire to urinate from either of us. Rob said that he might be able to squeeze a bit out. He shyly performed said operation and by a small miracle, it worked!

Quick, back on the bike and pedal over the snow like fury – thankfully we weren’t troubled by mechanical problems again. In absolutely glorious sunshine and, in places deep, firm (but not too hard) snow, we made off road progress. This is not to say that it was fast going , with much sliding, laughing and the occasional fall in the lovely snow. Did I mention the views, a blanket of shiny white over Axe Edge, Chrome Hill and beyond. It was better than we could have hoped for, so many photos were taken.

Our route took us over the hills off-road to the bridleway above Hindlow quarry (tricky uphill progress in snowy ruts), then a wonderful flowing descent to Earl Sterndale. Up and over past High Wheeldon, we crossed the A515 just north of Pomeroy and had to go past John and Jean Rout’s isolated and lovely house, so we popped in for a cuppa. It was very nice to see them and catch up, and the chocolate biscuits were great too. The selfie sums up the mood, although I wasn’t aware when I took the selfie that there was the spiky leaf of a plant in front of the lens. Never mind, we’ll edit that out later (doh!).

The icicles on their shed were truly spectacular. It was very difficult to leave the warmth and comfort though to get back on our bikes, but daylight hours are quite short at this time of year.

Straight onto the Pennine bridleway and snowy back roads to Taddington. Then the slippy and slidey Priestcliffe descent down to Millers Dale – loads of fun.Due to the pressure of time we decided to just head back to Buxton the quickest way (Monsal trail and A6), arriving home just as the rain started.

PS – The next day I cycled in the same area with Neil Pitts, who happened to be visiting the area, and the snow had virtually all gone!

Tales of Distant Times and Distant Places

With an excellent turn out, the club’s first winter slideshow on Tuesday night (15th) showcased the wide breadth and diversity of the club’s activities with presentations on:

– Climbing Mont Blanc and walking and bivvying in the Chamonix mountains, prior to the Club’s upcoming summer trip to Argentiere.

– Classic cragging in Saxony and mountaineering in the Alps.

– Club outings in the Peaks during the ‘Beast from the East’, N Wales and  superb November sunshine in the Lakes.

– Summer trip to Alaska and Denali.

-And, storm chasing through the US mid-West.

Plus arrangements as to winter Tuesday night indoor climbing, Burns night supper and the walk the Peak Boundary project!