|Covering up the death of eagles at Scottish windfarms
|A REALITY CHECK PROVES THE SCOTTISH EAGLES DO NOT AVOID WINDFARMS AS CLAIMED
|An inconvenient truth gleaned from various sources shows that wind farms have already, directly or indirectly, killed eagles, caused them to "disappear", or reduced their breeding success in Scotland. It is the best kept secret in this curious land where some eagle deaths make the headlines, while others are either denied or swept under the carpet - depending on who did the killing.
This paper brings proof that covering up the dark side of wind farms is rampant in Scotland, as indeed it is everywhere : from politicians to NGO´s, and from bird societies to those sadly ill informed sections of the media, the wind power scam is well protected. Misrepresentation of facts is routinely fed to a public unsure and nervous about future events. Such a well recognised ‘state of fear’ blinds the normally perceptive who would otherwise be less easily fooled.
Above picture : raptors are the essence of wilderness, and highlands without eagles are like a garden without birds : something I hope we´ll never see.
For reasons as impossible to excuse as they are obvious, those charged with protection of our protected species and habitats are apparently convincing themselves that the carnage being wrought by windfarms world wide, from Altamont Pass to Smola to the Navarre region of Spain and elsewhere, will ‘magically’ somehow never affect the Scottish environment ! Yet we are talking about identical species, from an identical threat to be erected in parallel examples of unbelievably bad locations.
Ornithology as a ‘profession’ is in danger of being forever tainted by those preferring to deny the ever mounting evidence in favour of becoming paid acolytes of the wind industry.
So take a good look at the eagles while you can - for barring miracles, they will soon be gone forever. It will be ‘adios’ wilderness : here comes the age of destruction.
Do not count on the European Commission to help : they are part of the problem, not the solution - see --> Is the European Commission helping with the environmental destruction of Europe ?
In or about 1997, two golden eagles died at Beinn Ghlas, Argyll, where a windfarm was to be built : it happened in the course of a radio-tracking experiment. The windfarm was built nevertheless, in 1999. An article by Mike Gregory, a well-known raptor specialist from the area, says the following :
"This was one of the eagle territories targeted by the Forestry Commission/RSPB radio-tracking project in the early Nineties. Both adult birds were trapped at the nest and fitted with radio transmitters and by the end of 1997 both birds had been found dead. Since then there has been no evidence of occupation by a resident pair of eagles, although the territory is visited occasionally by neighbouring birds." (1)
Chances are that roaming immature eagles, and "floaters" looking for a breeding range of their own, are also visiting the vacant territory from time to time. It is common behaviour for these birds, and the windfarm would not deter them any more than they do the adult eagles from neighbouring territories as mentioned by Mr Gregory. A scientific study has proven that eagles and other raptors are in fact attracted by wind turbines (2). Besides, there is ample evidence from around the world to show that these great birds do get close to wind turbines, to the point of getting killed by the blades (3).
When an eagle breeding range such as Beinn Ghlas becomes vacant, it does not take very long before another pair will claim the territory as their own. But Mike tells us that Beinn Ghlas was not occupied by a pair since 1997, which could mean that the windfarm is acting as an ecological trap ( i.e. killing the eagles that move in ).
Indeed, a letter from Scottish Natural Heritage ( "SNH") dated 4 November 2003 reveals that an eagle had "recently died" at Beinn Ghlas, that his female had left, and that another pair had moved in (4) (page 2).
If these birds were missed by Mike Gregory, who is only checking on that breeding territory at large intervals, it is likely that they were killed before he could see them. For once eagles claim a territory, they tend to keep it till the end.
SNH say in the letter : " the female left the territory". But as no monitoring was done, i.e. there was no search for bird carcasses under the turbines, how can SNH be sure that the bird left, as opposed to being killed ? If SNH followed the precautionary principle, they would have assumed that the female also met her death. This would be consistent with normal eagle behaviour : when a breeding eagle dies, the surviving bird normally stays on the territory, and pairs up with a floater. The assumption formulated by SNH is neither based on known eagle behaviour, nor is it supported by evidence ( the female was not seen anywhere else, was it ? ). It is in fact self serving : as a quango, SNH must support government policy, which wrongly considers eagle breeding territories as adequate locations for windfarms. And in this context the news of eagles being killed or disappearing in windfarm areas would disserve such policy.
The other pair, the one that "moved in" after the female "left", was never to be seen again : Mike Gregory, for one, never has ; yet he checks on that territory year after year. As in the case of the female above, it is likely that both these eagles were killed by the turbine blades. And there may have been more victims in the 8 years of operation of the windfarm : adults that would have claimed the territory, or visiting neighbouring adults, or roaming subadults.
As searches under the turbines were not conducted, we don´t have eagle carcasses to prove the point. But we do know that a pair claimed the territory ( "moved in" ), and that they soon disappeared. We also know that one eagle died ( SNH did not mention the cause ). And we know that his female disappeared.
Under the Freedom of Information legislation, SNH was asked for autopsies and correspondence on the subject of dead or missing eagles at windfarms ( including 3 years before construction, and a 10km circle around the turbines ). But according to their reply (5), there is only the matter of a golden eagle who disappeared at the Beinn an Tuirc windfarm, also in Argyll. We are told that they hold nothing at all regarding Beinn Ghlas :
- nothing about the 2 eagles that died in a radio-tracking experiment
- nothing about the eagle that died shortly before November 2003,
- nothing about the female that "left",
- nothing about the pair that "moved in " only to disappear shortly after,
- and nothing about the pair that disappeared from a neighbouring territory (1)
What is most remarkable is that we have, on one hand, a letter from one of their officers mentioning one dead eagle and 3 that disappeared (4), and on the other hand a letter under Freedom of Information saying that they hold no correspondence on the matter (5).
Are they negating their own signature ?
- Unless they have a plausible explanation, it does look as if they are covering up.
Above picture : ospreys too are being killed by windfarms and/or their power lines. Evidence of it has not surfaced in Scotland so far, but in view of what appears to be a cover up, this does not mean it hasn´t happened.
From what we´ve seen, there is every reason to believe that the Beinn Ghlas windfarm is acting as a "population sink" for golden eagles, killing them as they move in, one after the other.
Yet in another letter, dated 16 August 2006, SNH misrepresented to me that golden eagles avoid windfarms : "In general, therefore, we would expect the effect of a windfarm to be to displace any resident eagles" (6). This position was also made public, as evidenced by Mr Gregory´s article (1) ( second paragraph before last ) . Yet it is not only in contradiction with evidence from other windfarms around the world ( Altamont Pass, Navarre, Aragon, Soria etc. ), but also with what we have seen happen at Beinn Ghlas.
The lack of credibility of SNH is nothing new. It has been exposed before, here : The shame of Scotland
Above picture : raptors are not the only victims of wind turbines and/or their power lines. Swans and geese are also on the list, as are most birds and even bats. It is a sad future we are preparing for our kids.
SNH also base their eagles-avoid-windfarms position on the Beinn an Tuirc windfarm, where monitoring of eagle flight patterns was conducted after the turbines were erected. If we are to believe the ornithology consultants, the resident eagles immediately proceeded to avoid the windfarm, which is contrary to eagle behaviour in other countries.
Assuming that the field observer did his job conscienciously, it would appear that the desired "avoidance" was obtained through manipulation:
First manipulation :
1) from page 35 of the monitoring report, right column, top of first paragraph, we learn that the B&T eagles´ main food source is carrion;
2) then we learn on line 10 that sheep carcasses were removed from the windfarm area as they were found;
3) from the Environmental Statement we know that it takes 5 to 7 years for heather to grow into suitable habitat for grouse, after the forestry is felled. Consequently, the management area held neither prey nor sheep carrion that would have attracted the eagles;
4) this leads to a couple of questions : why would the eagles stop flying over the windfarm ? and why would they fly so often over a management area devoid of prey or carrion ?
- The removal of sheep carcasses from the windfarm area is part of the answer. The deposit of sheep carcasses or the release of prey in the management area would be the other part.
The eagles did not spontaneously stop flying over the windfarm area and favoured instead an unattractive, useless felled area of forestry. As the absence or presence of prey or carrion influences their flight paths, it is logical to think that carrion or prey was made available to them in the management area. - There is no "avoidance" : this is just "manipulation".
Costly as this programme may be, it is done at B&T to give support to the false claim that Scottish eagles avoid windfarms. And this in turn permits SNH to support windfarms in the wrong locations, such as golden eagle breeding territories in other parts of Scotland.
Second manipulation :
It is said in the monitoring report that flight paths of intruding eagles were not reported on the map.
- Why ? Could it be because they flew through the windfarm ?
Indeed they did. Here is what the report says : "In this study, resident golden eagles appeared to avoid the windfarm within their home range except when responding to intruders south and west of the centre of the territory" ( which is where the windfarm stands ).
How often would this occur ?
- Page 30 : "one to 6 observations of intruding eagles were made per year. These are not included in our analyses"
This means that, at least one of the years, six intrusions were observed in 16 days of observation. Extrapolating, that would be : 6 in 16 days = 0.375 intrusion per day x 365 = 137 intrusions per annum, and as many chases by the resident eagles. How many of these chases would take part in the south-western part of their territory, where the windfarm is located ? - A fair number, possibly 30 or more.
But these flights are not shown on the map.
- Why ?
- Could it be because it would be inconvenient to show that the eagles, either residents or intruders, did not avoid the windfarm ?
A less than satisfactory assumption :
The B&T monitoring report says : "the home range was occupied throughout the study period, by apparently the same 2 adult eagles".
The key word here is "apparently", for the birds are being observed from distances of 1 kilometer or more. And from that distance an adult eagle looks pretty much like any other, even with binoculars.
Apart from that, 45 days are allowed to elapse between watches, and that is plenty of time for a surviving eagle to pair up with a newcomer after the original mate has been killed ( it has been observed that pairing up with a new mate can occur within a week of the death of a partner ). So there is no guarantee that the resident eagles were not killed, then replaced by newcomers, and so on ( the population sink effect ). As the windfarm is not monitored for mortality, there is no way to know.
Eventually though, it was discovered that an eagle had "disappeared" at B&T (1). So a search was conducted, but no carcass was found.
- No carcass, no evidence, no problem ! So SNH may continue to pretend, based on the B&T "evidence", that in Scotland eagles avoid windfarms...
Finally, in the autumn of 2003, a rare white-tailed sea eagle was found dead near a wind turbine on Pabay, a small island off Skye. Here is what the autopsy report has to say :
"This eagle carcase was , as you know , already a few days old when
found (maggots at least half grown I would guess)
I could see no external evidence of bruising or other injury .
The heart was enlarged and thin-walled , suggesting the bird is likely
to have been in "compensated" heart failure , and therefore somewhat
exercise intolerant for some time . The gullet and stomachs were
empty - there was little or no carcase fat .
In spite of state of the internal organs , there was some free blood
inside the sternum.
Because of its heart problem it could have died suddenly at any time -
and if it died whilst airborne , hitting the ground could have caused
It is not possible for me to say one way or the other whether the wind
turbines might have been involved ..."
SNH don´t hold, er, any correspondence ( or autopsy ) about that incident either.
- Most convenient !
Yet we had mentioned that death to ornithologist Malcom Ogilvie, member as he is of their Scientific Advisory Committee...
WHAT ABOUT THE RSPB ?
A few months back, RSPB reported to the press the death of an eagle that had been poisoned. They were keen to bring this up, and rightly so.
I only wish they would be as keen to report eagles that die in other circumstances : near wind turbines for instance. They may claim they
did not know about the facts I reported here (?) ; but they know about many others in other countries, which they try to ignore --> see : RSPB executives are causing severe harm to bird life
Releasing information about eagles killed by windfarms might harm Scottish and Southern Energy´s business ... and SSE are selling a product called "RSPB Energy"... whose sales pitch is linked to renewable energy.
Most codes of ethics would call this a conflict of interest, and denounce it.
In the article just mentioned ( see link ) I showed how the RSPB were forced to disclose the first 9 eagle deaths at the Smola windfarm, and how they chose to ignore the subsequent four. I suspect the next report from Smola, where they are involved, will announce that the eagles have now learned to avoid the blades... against all evidence from around the world.
The public will believe it of course. The RSPB wouldn´t cover up evidence , would they ?
Mark Duchamp .......................................................March 30th 2008
MORE INFORMATION :
The negative effects of windfarms: links to papers published by Mark Duchamp
Pictures of birds cut to pieces, of turbines on fire, of accidents, of ruined (or to-be-ruined) landscapes...
TO ENLARGE : click "Photos" above picture on homepage.
(1) - Windfarms and Golden Eagles, the Argyll Experience - 07th July 2007
Mike Gregory and Sandy Gordon are two founder members of the Argyll Raptor Study Group who have studied Golden Eagles in south Argyll and Kintyre for 35 years. That amount of experience needs to be listened to. Mike´s article in Scottish Bird News No.84 provides a different perspective from other published data on the impact on Golden Eagles of windfarm development at Beinn an Tuirc and Beinn Ghlas. Based on findings from these sites, Mike suggests that wind farms and Golden Eagles do not go well to-gether...
Mike Gregory ---> scroll down to : Windfarms and Golden Eagles, the Argyll Experience.
(2) - "raptors spent significantly more time flying at close proximity to turbine blades ... than 51-100 m away ... or >100 m away … Analyzing the total number of minutes of flight time reveals that something about wind turbines may attract red-tailed hawks to fly near turbines and at dangerous heights. Similarly, American kestrels flew in proximity level 1 (ie 1-50m from turbine) nearly four times longer than expected by chance, golden eagles two times longer, and northern harriers three times longer" .
BIRD RISK BEHAVIORS AND FATALITIES AT THE ALTAMONT PASS WIND RESOURCE AREA, THELANDER, C. G, SMALLWOOD, K.S., RUGGE, L. Period of Performance: March 1998-December 2000, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report SR-500-33829, 2003. Report
(3) - Eagles and wind farms : mortality statistics
(4) - SNH letter 4 November 2003 - page 1
SNH letter 4 November 2003 - page 2
penultimate paragraph mentions the eagles
(5) - SNH letter 7 March 2008
b> "We do not hold any correspondence relating to incidents of eagle deaths or disappearances at or in areas of up to 10 km surrounding windfarms"
(6) - SNH letter 16 Aug 2006
(7) - Chilling Statistics
por: marcos (30/03/2008)
|Another sign that commerce comes before life. About time someone castrated the bureaucrats.
|Nombre: Alex Campbell (14/04/2008)
|Agreed ! Ornithologists are the worst offenders, though. They should be defending the birds, but they don't. They bend over backwards to please the wind farm owners, and to get contracted by them for a study or another.
The favourite ornithology consultants of the wind industry are Natural Research ltd, based on Islay.
|Nombre: bird lover (20/05/2008)