The British Falconers’ Club records with great sadness the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip was a great supporter of rural pastimes and in the 1950s and 1960s he was often in the company of members of our club whilst they were grouse hawking in the north of Scotland. He became an Honorary Member of the club in 1953. He is featured in The Falconer in 1958 as being a guest of actor James Robertson-Justice on his moor at Spinningdale.
Currently all field meets are to be suspended pending continued updates on Avian Influenza from DEFRA. The club will keep its members informed through the regions, its website and social media.
The following was received in response to Dr Mellor’s email dated 4th December 2020 asking for clarification:
Dear Dr Mellor,
Thank you for your email dated 04/12/2020
The implications of the housing measure on working birds of prey. If not already housed the birds of prey will need to be housed, (unless there are very specific circumstances preventing it) when the housing measures come into force at 00:01 on the 14 December 2020. However, keepers can still fly birds of prey, including for pest control, but they should avoid direct contact with wild birds.
The housing measures do not alter how birds of prey can be worked further than the measure currently in place under the ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’. In particular, following the declaration of an the AIPZ (effective from 17:00 on 11 November 2020 until further notice) bird gatherings are not allowed to take place across GB. One bird (falcon/hawk etc.) or multiple birds that already live together are still permitted to be flown in GB under the AIPZ. However, birds that are not already housed together/on the same premises should not be flown together, as this constitutes a bird gathering.
Please see GOV.UK for further information and updates relating to Avian Influenza – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
APHA Customer Advice Team
Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
I hope you have all managed to stay safe during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
I’m certain that this crisis will be causing a number of you financial, mental health and wellbeing issues and whilst I cannot help out financially, if anybody needs somebody just to talk too, please feel free to contact me in strictest confidence. There are of course professional counsellors that are better suited and trained to help you and I would urge anybody that’s feeling under pressure to make use of the various confidential helplines such as Samaritans Phone 116 123
Newsletters: As you will be aware, we did not issue the Spring Newsletter. Although 95% of the content had been assimilated, the type setters and printers we use shut down in line with Government instructions due to the rapid increase in CV-19 cases. There was an option via one those who have logged into our website and/or Face Book page which only constitutes around 30% of our membership. Council therefore decided to issue a bumper Autumn Edition instead. For the record, our rules state we should publish one Newsletter per annum so we are in compliance with our club rules. Nevertheless, I apologise for any inconvenience caused.
AGM 2020: We are currently unable to make firm arrangements for an AGM due to the present circumstances, however I have asked our Treasurer Steve Lambert to continue working with Steve Neville and our Scottish Regional Committee to make provisional arrangements for a limited two or three day field meet for around 20 falconers and to source a meeting venue in the local area that is suitable to accommodate the AGM. I have also spoken to Midland Regional Chairman Simon Tyers with a view to making a provisional booking at The Riverside Hotel at Burton-on-Trent which we have used on many occasions in the past. I have also asked Simon to attempt to source land on which to hold a limited field meeting for up to 20 falconers. The field meets will not be affected by CV-19 as long as we follow whatever social distancing guidelines are current at that time, but we are not quite sure what the arrangements will be for hotels in October. It may be that we have a 2-3 day limited field meet in Scotland in November/December and an AGM with 2 day limited field meeting around the Burton area at the end of October. We will have to wait and see how it all pans out, but be assured we are working on it.
Wild Take: As some of you will be aware, Mr Gary Wall and two of his colleagues were issued licences by Natural England to take peregrines from the wild. It is their intention to take 30 peregrines over a 5 year period to build a breeding pool of wild taken British peregrines. Should a virus decimate the wild peregrine then Mr Wall and co would be able to supplement the surviving wild peregrines with his native stock. It is my understanding that peregrines from his breeding project will be passed onto falconers in due course to hunt with. There has been the expected outcry to the taking of wild peregrines from protectionists, but the two most prominent organisations, RSPB and Wild Justice, have not reacted as I would have thought. The RSPB have called it a selfish act and Wild Justice have barely said a word, albeit they shared the information on Mark Avery’s Blog, much to the enragement of most of his followers. The BFC has applied for licences to take 10 sparrowhawks and 5 peregrines from the wild, each year for the next six years. Natural England recently wrote to me apologising for the delay in informing us of their decision which was due to limited staff because of CV-19, but that we should expect a response imminently. Whilst I have my doubts as to whether we will be granted licences this year (in any case it is too late for us now as they will have all flown the nest), if we do so in the future we should expect further comments from protectionists.
The Journal: This year’s issue is all but completed and looking through the draft content it appears to be a very good edition. Thanks to our Secretary Jacqui Morris and our President Nick Kester for carrying out all the donkey work again and of course the contributors without which we would not be able to produce this publication. With most businesses returning to work in line with government guidelines, we are hopeful that the printers will return to work and that your Journal will be on your doorsteps around the same time of the year as is usually the case.
Fortunately our secretary has been able to continue working from home, albeit in a reduced capacity.
Dr Gordon Mellor, Hawk Board Chairman has kindly forwarded a brief update for us which I append to my communication.
Here’s hoping that everybody has a good clean moult and that all members that have breeding birds have had a good outcome.
Best Wishes – Stay safe!!
British Falconers’ Club
HB Short Report
The Hawk Board have been pretty busy over the recent period notwithstanding the lockdown. Falconers and bird of prey keepers have been divided in response to Natural England’s granting of licences to take a small number of native peregrines for falconry and breeding. Whilst falconry got some pretty poor coverage in the national press and it certainly raised a storm amongst our opponents on social media, the reaction from responsible, authoritative bodies was pretty muted. I wish to clarify that the Board was neither involved in nor communicated with about the applications or the granting of licences. I have been accused by supporters and those against of either not doing enough to bring them about or indeed of failing to block them. The Board statement can be found on our website.
We have also responded to DEFRA concerning their work on invasive alien species. This issue is of considerable importance to us all. I answered some specific questions on exotics and hybrids, made use of an excellent IAF document by Dr Matt Gage, and the recent work by BFC Director Martyn Standley, that was used in the meeting with Scottish Heritage about the hacking of large falcons. The figures of lost exotics and hybrids came directly from IBR which is the most comprehensive data set available, but is only as good as the reporting of losses, recoveries and sightings. We all have a part to play in this respect because any lack of good data about falconry birds is pounced upon by our opponents.
Of course BREXIT and the likely effects upon bird of prey movements into and out of the EU, has taken a back-seat recently, but as the pandemic lessens we will see these issues return.
Whilst social distancing is something of a creed amongst falconers, regardless of current circumstances, I hope that travel and other restrictions will allow us to engage in the up-coming season unencumbered.
Dr Gordon Mellor
The Hawk Board
Falconry – Inscribed by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind
The application form is now available for the above event in the ‘members only’ area of the website.
If you have not done so already, you will need to register as a member and wait for verification to be able to access the application.
LEAVING the EU with NO-DEAL
1 The inevitability of delays at borders is accepted. Under EU regulations for CITES A,B,C and D species all will require Import and Export Cites and 30 days quarantine. All imports will have to be via an approved BIP, with Dover and Eurotunnel not designated for personal/hobbyist imports. All permits will have to be stamped by customs in the exporting countries with the potential for administrative delays and will probably need clearance by an agent.
2 CITES species will require import and export permits – this seems to scupper the pet passport proposal. DEFRA hope that CITES permits will be issued within 15 days of application – however the regulations allow up to 30 days for processing. DEFRA continue to look into the pet passport possibility but this is complicated by the need to comply with EU regulations on CITES – A B C and D are EU regs, whilst CITES only has 1, 2 and 3. It seems highly likely that all raptors will be caught by EU rules.
3 The requirement will be for all crossings into the UK to be from recognised EU border inspection ports. These are limited in number. The welfare of raptors in transit for extended periods was raised but the availability of CITES/animal trained Border Control staff overruled the automatic use of the shortest routes. Numerous arguments presented about welfare risks inherent in long delays may persuade a rethink.
4 This meeting was fundamentally about CITES, however importing issues for animal by products (Raptor food) was raised – only the Border Force representatives had any idea of likely problems. The longest delays may come getting animal by products into the UK (rather than out of the EU). The Border Force thought every vehicle would require a separate customs declaration and inspection with associated delays and costs.
5 There were limited assurances that Government departments have contingencies for the increased work-load inherent in a No-Deal BREXIT. These assurances all come with caveats however, such as ‘Due to the increase in the volume of border checks we propose to designate a greater number of ports of entry and exit – subject to adequate infrastructure, facilities and the availability of Border Force personnel trained in CITES’. There are budgets for limited increases in staff but little has been allocated for physical infrastructure.
The DEFRA Engagement Session left the impression that little preparatory work has been undertaken by Government departments, to understand and mitigate the No-Deal situation. Were the UK to exit the EU in these circumstances we will face a prolonged period of restriction and uncertainty – I make no political assertion here, merely as assessment of the likely consequences.
Whilst at the time of writing, the Prime Minister’s negotiated agreement looks unlikely to be supported in Parliament. Were it to win a majority in the House of Commons, the status quo for EU/UK import and export, border crossings and the like, applies for the time being. However there will be changes as the UK moves to the final settlement.
DEFRA have kept the door open for further engagement and I am grateful that we have had the opportunity to contribute.
Please note the Spring Meeting application is now available in the ‘Members only’ secure area, on a first come, first served basis.
[You will need to be a member of this website to access this. Please register when asked to do so, when visiting the members only area and you will be given access once you have been verified by admin].
The Spring Meeting will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday evening; followed by the Falconers’ Feast at 8pm.
“The BFC North West Group”
Please note on Tuesday 25th September at 7.30pm, we are very pleased to host Jimmi Hill, who will give a presentation about the Philippine Eagle and it’s conservation. There will be a small door charge of £5, all welcome. We meet at: The Red Lion Pub, Newburgh, Wigan WN8 7NF.
Many thanks in advance and kind regards,
Thursday 16th August 2018
Memorial Service commencing at 13:00
• Salisbury Methodist Church (SP1 1EF) we recommend parking at Salt Lane or Culver Street Car parks, both of which should be free after midday.
• Burial Service will commence at approximately 15:00 Michael’s Wood Natural Burial Ground (SP4 0EQ) not SP4 0DR as that is the office, sorry). There is plenty of parking in the adjoining field.
It is with great sadness that I have to report the sudden and untimely death of Jim Chick in early August. Jim was the first Director of the club as the role morphed from Hon. Secretary to the more formal business title. The Falconer records him in post from 1982-88. On standing down, he became a long-serving chairman of the Hawk Board, and it was here that he achieved so much for falconry and hawk keeping. He liaised tirelessly with the various bureaucrats at Animal Health and wider government departments, building relationships that secured our position purely through his extraordinary strength of personality. We have much to thank him for.
As a falconer he was particularly known for flying on the MoD land that is one of our legendary venues: Salisbury Plain. He also worked for the Hawk Conservancy at Andover with Reg and Ashley Smith and bred countless hawks for members and friends. He was a great display giver but never pretended that this was falconry proper. In the early days he was a pioneer of telemetry having been a radio ham and BT engineer.
A full obituary will appear in next year’s journal.
Those who knew him well will mourn his passing and on behalf of the club and his many, many friends we extend our condolences to his wife Liz and daughter Angie.
Time is getting on to apply for discounted Game Fair tickets for members.
Only £5 per ticket; but if you commit to spending time on the BFC stand you will get this amount refunded.
Please email the office to register for your ticket firstname.lastname@example.org