Wednesday, 10 July 2013


hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression.
how about murder?

In February this year (2013), I decided to explore more of the surrounding of Whinfell Forest in Cumbria. The area has always had an interest to me since moving to the Penrith area in 2011. I forever find my self in the neighbouring area of Cliburn Moss, a fantastic nature reserve with many species of wildlife. Surrounded by the sounds of the Jay and escaping eyesight, my first very close encounter with Gold Crests, and countless arms reach Roe Deer, the reserve has a sense of magic, mystery, and eerie emotions. As the reserve canopy opens toward the bog area, many times you see the spectacles of buzzards soaring through the air with the classic 'mew' call, wings fully stretched and finger tips allowing ray of sunshine to illude through, a magnificent bird. The area however stretched further, over the fileds more woodland awaited. I used to drive countless times along the stretch of road connecting the village of Cliburn to the A66. and every time Roe deer could be seen prancing along the tarmac and entering the woods, white bottom disappearing in to the dense trees. Perfect for me to have a look at. Peering over the stones walls that kept the public restricted, the place looked untouched. the moss lay perfect, the grass and wild flowers flourished. However no gate, no access. Maybe the land literally across the road held the same resemblance. Many of times i seen white vans drive by and pull into a driveway. Each van holding the logo of Lowther. i thought it would be best to first ask permission to gain access. I had been wanting footage of Roe Deer for a project at University, and this looked like a perfect location. Walking towards the drive way, no one was to be seen. I tried knocking on the door of the house, but no response. However there was a telephone number on the large van. I pulled my iphone from my pocket and rang the number, in no time at all i told the person on the other end my project and what i wanted to gain. It seemed far to easy? I was granted permission. Obviously not aware on what i was about to find?

Once in the woods (Atkinson Plantation), i was hit by silence. the area pulled me in and the outside disappeared. Scoutting around looking for tracks, feeding signs and anything and everything. The deeper i explored the more connected i became. Tracks everywhere. The smells and the feelings of the woods were enchanting, i took one more step and was struck by a smell i knew too well, Fox. Following the smells i soon found a den, ripe with the musky essence and fresh scat. Being a wildlife enthusiast, photographer and filmaker i was excited to say the least. i may have just stumbled across a little gem. Or not.

From entering the woods i had heard the distinct 'mew' of a buzzard, putting it out of my mind, thinking it would be soaring somewhere close. But the mewing never stopped. I became curious, "maybe a buzzard lives here too". The more i walked the more the woods turned into a plantation. with my mind fixated on the smells, noises and hopes of exploration, i never considered to look at the structure of the woods. Nice neat rows of Scots Pine. and then a clearing, pheasant pens, with clear traps around them to keep other animals out. Still curious of the sounds of the buzzard, i began to follow the noise. It came closer and closer. Eager to capture something on camera i began to set my Canon up to take photos. 

Sure enough i found the buzzard.. But not in the environment i imagined. the buzzard lay enclosed. at first what i thought to be just small pen.
Gaining more curiosity i looked further in to the 'pen'. My heart sank. 

There lay three Buzzards

Furiously trying to get out on the trap, two tried and tired, the third lay exhausted, flat to the ground, beak open and abraisions all over its face, clearly given up. 

From reading stories and research about persecution within the UK, i think i might have just stumbled upon a case of it. Clearly the birds had been there a while, from looking around the trap, it was obvious to see that the bird where baited in, as a pheasant carcass lay in the middle. I soon ripped my phone from my pocket and rang my mate. it was at this point i realised never to get a O2 contract. Welcome to O2 is not what you want to hear. However soon enough i got through, and the process began to report the findings. After passing all the information over to Cain, i decided to lay low, i didn't want to intercept anyone that might be close by or returning to the plight. 

About 30 minuets went by, and i was greeted by Cain, and we walked back to the trap. Soon enough the RSPB was contacted with information on the findings, and what to do. 

A difficult choice to make. Do you let the birds go? Or report the incident to try and bring awareness and justice to the birds and demonstrate persecution still goes on?

We left the sight.

I returned home to begin sending photos of the findings to the RSPB investigation team, as well as grid references to allow a pin point location. After this it was up then left to the authorities to deal with. Camera traps were placed to record the activity of the trap.

I participated in everything that was needed of me. I was contacted by the WIldlife Crime Officer at Cumbria Police, to provide statements. it had been a few weeks since the findings, so i was eager to know everything, however only so much could be divulged because it was prior to a court hearing. 
I was told off record the status of the birds. Devastated is not the word.
The camera traps picked up a man entering the trap and murdering the birds.

Months passed.

Monday 8th July 2013, Colin Burne of Winters Park, Penrith, was convicted.

Justice.... NO

The 64-year old gamekeeper attended Carlisle Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to three charges. These related to the killing of two buzzards on the 11 February 2013, killing five buzzards prior to this date and possession of a wooden stick as an item capable of being used to kill the birds.
He received a 70-day jail sentence, concurrent on each charge, suspended for 12 months.  In sentencing, the Judge stated that had it not been for his ill health he would have considered jailing him. 

Never have i been so disgusted in the legal system!!

He MURDERED 7 Buzzards (that they know of).

Justice has not been surved. 

I just hope that this will create a mass awareness on what our wildlife has to struggle against.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Andrew, with you all the way.
    Take care Gordon.