The Shropshire Raptor Study Group: Annual Report 2010


The Shropshire Raptor Study Group was established at an Inaugural Meeting on 15 March 2010, to co-ordinate the monitoring and conservation of birds of prey in Shropshire.

This is the Group’s first Annual Report. As experience, data and membership all increase, the value of the annual reports will increase. Many of the species being monitored are still subject to persecution, and advice has been sought from the Rare Breeding Birds Panel on the level of detail to be included in this public report.

Initially, the Group has agreed to focus on monitoring Raptors in the breeding season.

Red Kite

The first Red Kite nests in Shropshire for 130 years were found in 2005. The two nests both failed, but successful breeding first occurred in 2006 when one pair produced two fledged young.

The colonisation of Shropshire has continued. Sixteen nests were found in 2010, an increase of six over the 10 nests found last year, itself an increase over the seven nests found in 2008 and the six found in 2007. All were in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the south-west of the County.

A further successful nest was reported after the end of the breeding season.

Productivity has continued to increase.

There was also a big increase in the number and range of non-breeding birds. Twenty-seven different tagged birds were seen at two roost sites in the winter of 2009-10, and, by comparing the proportion of tagged and untagged birds seen on each visit, 60 separate individuals were estimated to have been present.

Nest Sites

The number and distribution of Red Kite nests found in Shropshire in 2010, together with the number of nestlings that were ringed, and the number of fledged young, is set out in Table 1.

The number and distribution of nests found each year in Shropshire since the first in 2005 is summarised in Table 2.

Table 1. Number of Nests Found, and Outcome 2010

Nests & Outcome 10-km SQUARE
SO18/28 SO27 SO37 SO38 SO39 SO48 Total
Nests Found 4 2 3 2 4 2 17
Successful Nests 2 2 3 2 4 1 14
Nestlings Tagged 3 4 6 0 11 2 26
Fledged Young 3 4 7 4 11 2 31

Table 2. Number and Distribution of Nests: Shropshire 2005 – 10

Year 10-km SQUARE (& Community Wildlife Group Area)
Upper Clun
SO27 SO37 SO38
Kemp Valley
Upper Onny
SO48 Total
2005 2 2
2006 1 1
2007 2 1 1 1 1 6
2008 2 1 1 2 1 7
2009 4 1 1 2 2 10
2010 4 2 3 2 4 2 17
Total 12 7 5 4 9 6 43

All the nests were in the south-west of the County, but an increasing number of reports came from the Severn Valley and around Market Drayton, including some of two birds together, so it is possible that there are additional unreported nests elsewhere.

Breeding Success

Of the 17 nests in 2010, 14 were successful, producing 31 fledged young, almost twice as many as last year. Productivity has continued to increase, and 68 young Kites have now fledged from Shropshire nests since 2006.

The number, outcome and annual productivity of Red Kite nests found in Shropshire since the first in 2005 are summarised in Table 3 below.

Table 3. Number and Outcome of Nests, and Annual Productivity: Shropshire 2005 – 10

Nests & Outcome Year
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
Nests Found 2 1 6 7 10 17 43
Successful Nests 0 1 3 6 9 14 33
Nestlings Tagged 2 3 9 13 26 53
Fledged Young 2 5 12 18 31 68
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
Young / Nest 0.0 2.0 0.8 1.7 1.8 1.8 1.6
Young / Successful Nest 0.0 2.0 1.7 2.0 2.0 2.2 2.1

Nests found in 2010: 17
Population Estimate: 17 pairs


The first confirmed breeding record sent to SOS dates from 1966 (although a nesting female was shot in 1951). The Atlas 1992 gives no indication of numbers at that time, but inspection of the records suggests that around 10 pairs were known. The population has grown steadily since. It had reached 12 pairs on Forestry Commission land by 1991, with 21 different sites utilised since 1988 (SBR 2001). There is little historic information for private woodland sites.

The Forestry Commission monitored 18 Goshawk sites in 2010, and found 10 to be occupied. Three failed, and the remaining pairs fledged 19 young.

Two apparently occupied nests were found on private land in SO28, and Group members made several sightings of individual birds

It is intended to undertake a full assessment of records to produce a population estimate next year.

Honey Buzzard

A pair bred for some years on the Shropshire / Herefordshire border (not always in Shropshire), but no evidence of breeding has been observed for some years. A single bird was seen in SO37 in June, but no active nests, or evidence of breeding, were found.

A record of a single bird at Whixall Moss on 12 May, probably a passage migrant, was submitted to the County Bird Recorder.

Population Estimate: 0


The first recent confirmed breeding record dates from 1983, and there were three known nest sites occupied by 1990. The population was estimated at possibly up to eight pairs (The Atlas 1992). The population has grown steadily since, but the current work of the Raptor Study Group is the first attempt to estimate the population since then.

In 2010, Group members found one failed nest (but probably two pairs) in SJ62, another pair near Whixall Moss, a pair with fledged young in SO37, a failed nest, and another pair (outcome unknown) in SO38, one nest in SO47 (at least one young fledged), one successful nest in SO48, one successful pair in SO57, and two pairs in the south-east area between Highley and Bridgnorth.

A bird carrying food to another nest in SO37 was reported, and other pairs were found, but none of these nests were located.

An assessment of the population in the South-west Shropshire Atlas area in 2010 estimated 7-8 breeding pairs. Five other confirmed breeding records were submitted to the Atlas.

A preliminary assessment of the County population has been made from Bird Atlas records at the tetrad level 2008 – 10. Hobbies have been recorded in every 10-kilometre square except one in the Shropshire Atlas area and in 132 of the County’s 870 tetrads.

Nests found in 2010: 6 by Group members, and another 4 by Atlas Fieldworkers
Population Estimate, based on a provisional assessment of Bird Atlas records 2008 – 10: probably around 30 pairs (A more thorough assessment will be made next year).


Two pairs of Merlins nested annually in SO49 for many years, but this declined to one pair in the late 1980s, and, apart from 1993 and possibly 1996, when there were two pairs, only one pair was found up until 2004. There were two nests found 2004 – 08 (with a third found in 2006), but only one nest was found in 2009, although there was probably a second pair present as well.

One nest was found in 2010, with four nestlings, in SO49B. These were ringed on 15 July.

Subsequently, the adult male Merlin was caught at the end of July. He was found to be already ringed, and fledged from a nearby nest in 2006 i.e. he was a four year old local bird.

At least three of the four young Merlins fledged.

A report was received of a male, seen perched on the same post three times in a two-three week period (first observation 23 April) on the edge of the Long Mynd plantation in SO38Z. This is indicative, but not conclusive, evidence of a nest near by.

Records of Merlin holding territory were also received from three tetrads in the south-east during the last Shropshire Bird Atlas (1992), but few if any records have been received from that area since then. Inspection of the habitat in the tetrads where they were reported (low-lying farmland between Chelmarsh and Kinver) suggests these records were not valid (any falcons in that area were more likely to be Hobbies, which were then much rarer in Shropshire than they are now).

There were no reports of Merlin on Titterstone Clee until recently, but at least one bird was seen there in 2010.

No evidence was found of any other territories or non-breeding birds.

Nests found in 2010: 1
Population Estimate: definitely 1, probably 3 – 4, pairs


The first confirmed breeding record dates from 1987, and there were two sites occupied by 1990. The population has grown steadily since. It had reached 10 occupied sites by 1996 (SBR 1997). A total of 27 sites has been used since 1987. Four of these sites have not been used since 2003 or earlier, and all four were used for not more than four years. It is therefore likely that some of the seven new sites found from 2004 onwards are relocations of pairs at the four disused sites.

Members of the Shropshire Peregrine Group monitored a total of 23 nest sites in 2010, an increase of three sites compared with 2009. Actual breeding was confirmed at 21 sites and a total of 34 chicks fledged successfully. Three chicks were colour-ringed.

Three new sites were reported during the year including one located on a church tower in the centre of Shrewsbury.

Shropshire’s unique pair of tree nesting peregrines again returned to their traditional breeding site where they nested in an abandoned carrion crow’s nest which collapsed shortly after egg laying resulting in the loss of the clutch.

In the southern half of the County (SO squares), there were seven nests. Six were successful, producing 10 fledged young. In the SJ squares, there were 14 nests. All except one was successful, producing 24 fledged young.

Peregrines continued to suffer from human predation and disturbance, and, at one site in the south of the county, the breeding pair were found deliberately poisoned in early May. Subsequent police enquiries proved inconclusive. The Group will work with other concerned wildlife groups to prevent a similar incident next year. At another site in the north-west of the county, a juvenile male peregrine was found dead, possibly poisoned in mid-March.

This year, for the first time, nest records and breeding data were submitted successfully online by SPG to the BTO Nest Records Scheme.

Another nest was located after the end of the breeding season, after a recently fledged young was found as a road casualty. This nest is not included in the 21 sites referred to above.

Nests found in 2010: 21
Population Estimate: 21 pairs

Request for Records

Records of breeding raptors should be sent, in strictest confidence, to the Convenor, please (contact details below).


Further information about the Group can be obtained from the Convenor (contact details below).

Additional members may be admitted by the Group (by majority vote of other members) if they support the Policies and Terms of Reference, and are willing to become actively involved in the Group’s work.

Leo Smith
November 2012

The Bryn, Castle Hill, All Stretton, Church Stretton, Shropshire SY6 6JP

01694 720296 or

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