Highlands & Islands

Art by RSPB Scotland volunteer marks deaths of 22 birds of prey

An artist who works as a volunteer for RSPB Scotland has created artwork to commemorate the deaths of 16 red kites and six buzzards in the Highlands earlier this year.

Tests revealed that most of the birds, which were found on land in Ross-shire, had eaten an illegal poison. Police Scotland has been investigating the deaths.

Artist Janice Duke, a volunteer at the RSPB's Forsinard Reserve in Sutherland, has revealed her sketches and finished artwork.

Image copyright Janice Duke/RSPB Scotland

"Red Kites are beautiful and distinctive birds of prey, ones I particularly enjoy watching in action," said Ms Duke.

Image copyright Rspb scotland

"There's something about the way they move, so elegant and powerful. It moves me."

The artist added: "As the death toll rose in Ross-shire earlier this year in what would amount to a particularly disturbing incidence of persecution, I was appalled."

The first of the dead birds were discovered in early March and in the following weeks the number increased to 22.

In June, RSPB Scotland said "outrageous rumours" had been spread accusing it of accidentally causing the deaths of 16 red kites and six buzzards.

The charity said the anonymously-made claims blamed it for killing the birds by leaving contaminated meat at its Tollie visitor centre in the Highlands.

Red kites were re-introduced to Scotland after the native species was wiped out following years of persecution.

Ross-shire had been a stronghold for the raptors.

Some of the area's surviving birds have, however, successfully extended their range into neighbouring Sutherland.

Red kite officer Brian Etheridge said: "We found our first red kite nests in Sutherland last year and I can confirm that we have had three breeding pairs this year.

"They are located in the area between Dornoch and Bonar Bridge.

"This is really good news and shows that the birds are capable of doing very well in the north of Scotland if they are not persecuted."

Ms Duke is selling prints of her artwork to fund the RSPB's conservation work.

Image copyright janice duke/rspb scotland

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