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Furadan 5G-Withdrawn but still legal in Kenya

The ruling by the supreme court against revocation of carbofuran tolerances on food in the United States yet again shows us the way to go concerning carbofuran. Clearly, the substance is not justifiably safe.

When FMC announced that they were withdrawing supply of Furadan to Kenya (& East Africa) in 2009, for a moment we believed that biodiversity would be a little safer. But we needed more than just have Furadan withdrawn by the manufacturer. Specifically the Kenyan law on Furadan (other deadly toxic pesticides) needed to specify its position as far as legislation of deadly toxic pesicide is concerned especially following voluntary withdrawal by the legal manufacturer and licenced supplier of the product.

Indeed we saw invigorated buy-back by the Kenyan distributor, JUANCO and welcome support by FMC to be informed where the pesticide was still at large. In a few months, the agrovet shops were out of stock of the poison. Incidences of lion poisoning seemed on the decline whereas bird poachers at irrigation schemes seemed to be absorbed into other professions like fishing and crop farming for the case of Bunyala.

But soon what we feared for most of the indifferent law, its legislators and the enforcers started manifesting itself- Furadan was again within easy reach of poachers….& now, there are ‘new’ forms of the product!Boom! we are in an even more worying situation. Furadan 5G still remains legal in Kenya. Actually it might never even have been withdrawn at all. JUANCO still advertises it on their website whereas the bird poachers applaud the original (FMCs) Furadan as a remarkable biocide and maintain their use of the product even presently.

In my quest for status quo of this lethal killer at the poisoning hot spot in Bunyala, I stumbled on a version that poachers term as not ideal for bird poisoning. Nonetheless, somebody’s got to be using it albeit its unknown true identity and effects.

The substance is packed in a container similar to that of FMC’s Furadan 5G but for the blue cap and seeming faded instructions label. Further, it is strong smelling, crystaline, and the purple (and some black) crystals are certainly coloured by some sort of powder otherwise just clear crystals. The substance also seems to dissolve more readily than the Furadan that was known of FMC.

Furadan  5G counterfeit 008

Compare the container above with the familiar package on this earlier post.

Furadan  5G counterfeit 003

Label showing manufacturer, distributor and production date (has nearly out-lived its shelf life)

Furadan  5G counterfeit 011

Purple and black heterogenous crystals

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Crystals readily colouring the water even before shaking

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Some of the crystals (at the edges) totally discoloured upon shaking the mixture.

Counterfeits are enjoying Furadan’s legal status and its high demand for abuse in Kenya while human and wildlife livelihoods languish in danger from intoxication.

Are pesticides poisoning fish in Lake Naivasha?

Lake Naivasha surrounded by farms

Lake Naivasha surrounded by farms

In recent weeks, thousands of fish have been dying in Lake Naivasha, a world renowned rift valley lake famous for the diversity of birds. Although it is a Ramsar site and should  be protected by national legislation for its global importance, concerns raised by conservationists and local communities about the impacts of developments around the lake have gone unheeded for years. The lake has become a a shrinking stinking cesspool.

Now the Mars group have joined the fray and the media have put the pressure on flowerfarmers. Kenyan farmers cant feed the nation but yet the country is one of the worlds largest producers of cut flowers. In fact cut flowers generate the greatest revenue of all horticutltural exports raking in $405.5 million from export of 87,042 metric tonnes of cut flowers.

Witnesses on the ground claim that flower farmers extract water from the lake, and also dump pesticide laden wastes into the lake which contributes to the receeding shore lines and progressively polluted waters.

The Member of Parliament for Naivasha, Mr. John Muththo has been fighting this issue for many years but to no avail. Now fishing has been banned and water quality tests are being conducted.

According to the Standard Newspapers

About 40 flower farms the lake’s shores, drawing water from it and some of them sending back pesticide-laden effluent back to the lake.

Another 20 farms are distributed farther from the lake, using water from boreholes and rivers that affect the lake’s ecosystem.

A recent report appearing in New York Times stated, “Huge flower farms have bought up much of the lakefront, using the water to irrigate their roses and carnations, which are exported to Europe. Some of the farmers introduce banned pesticides into the lake.”

Responding to threats that the flower farms will be closed local growers under the Kenya Flower Council and the Lake Naivasha Growers Group have urged the government to prove the cause of fish deaths. They deny that pesticides could be  the cause as they claim to practice responsible methods through a voluntary social  and environmental codes of practice.

It is a sad day for Kenya when it takes thousands of fish to die in Lake Naivasha to wake up the relevant ministries and agencies to  investigate the impact of unregulated pesticide use and water abstraction.

Stop poisoning lions with Furadan

Lion stalking zebra Nairobi Park antony Kasanga

Working during the holiday season is not a chore when you get to do blogging from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Antony Kasanga Lion guardians furadan masai lions

I spent the last few days with Antony Kasanga of Lion Guardians Blog who has been educating his community about the need to protect lions. This season a new generation of young Masai men are being initiated to the Moran, or warrior class. Killing lions has been a tradition to prove their bravery. Now the older moran like Antony are asking the youth to discard that tradition, and to take pride in saving lions. Afterall, conservation gives people like Antony a job and only those with jobs survived the recent drought without much loss. More than 80% of the cattle in the area died during the drought. As their only source of wealth is livestock, this has left many of the Masai destitute.

During a meeting Menye Laiyiok meeting, fathers of the uncircumcised boys prepare their sons for a serious life of adult hood and how to be good warriors.

antony kasanga lions maasai furadan

This meeting held a special message that survival depends on the conservation of wildlife in this area. Without wildlife, especially lions, tourists would not come here. Antony spoke specifically about the need to discard the old ways of poisoning lions with Furadan – a message that some were not happy to hear as it’s an easy way of making a kill and getting rid of this feared predator.

Thank fully people on Mbirikani Ranch have no reason to poach predators because there is a predation compensation fund that enables losses to be recovered at least in part. Reuben Ole Silati is the predator verification officer and is verifying that this goat was actually killed by a hyena.

Video Interview of Furadan Victim’s Father

On the morning of 26 October this year, 3-years old Nelson Kimutai woke up and went out to play as he’s always done throughout his short life. Little did he know that it was the last day of play for him. That evening, his father Nahashon Kigai arrived from the local primary school where he is a teacher, and sat on his usual makeshift garden bench outside his house. He then sent his boy to take his shoes to the house so that he can rest his feet.

When young Nelson came out of the house, he was holding a cup inside which were the purple granules of death we know as Furadan. Nelson Kimutai had swallowed quite an amount of this poison. A few hours later and after various attempts at first-aid and medical attention, Nelson was dead. I talked to his father recently, and this is what he had to say:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The Continuing Saga of Disappearing Birds in Bunyala

Dear readers,

I have had to partly keep you off from the monotony of bird poisoning in Bunyala to and in part to deal with a larger study area having extended my surveys into a section of a southerly bordering nationally unique Important Bird Area. The area has been renowned to contain 8 of the 9 papyrus and lake Victoria endemic bird species in East Africa. The birds once enjoyed a continuously undisturbed papyrus swamp and most likely a peaceful neighbourhood before the sick culture of poisoning birds using Furadan set in.

Bunyala-Yala NovDec 062.JPG

An island of papyrus stands on my background; these are poor given the dry soil conditions and the size. The plants are struggling to attain their massive size after having been slashed down then the culprit delayed digging their root systems out.

Bunyala-Yala NovDec 032.JPG

Bunyala-Yala NovDec 019.JPG

Bunyala Rice Scheme- you can hardly see its end now, and it keeps growing by the day. Bird poisoning goes on in these areas of the irrigation scheme that flood with water.

Walking around the adjoined local centres, one branded ‘Canteen’ and the other ‘Nyadorera’ in Bunyala, agrobusinesses seem to have a disappointingly trace number of visits by customers. As a matter of fact there is only one specialist agroveterinary shop while the other is a general shop and in the farming section are stocked a couple of pesticides and farm inputs. With the intention of finding whether these stocked Furadan, curious dealers turned us away with a bold ‘NO’ in response to the question we asked, ‘If they had any Furadan’ at the general shop and the agrovet. At the agrovet however, my keen assistant spotted the 200gm packs at a lower side shelf and alerted me. But the shopkeepers are sensitive as far as Furadan is concerned and are quick to show you the way out if you are suspected not to be a poacher since poachers somehow have a way of getting the poison for their work without much ado.

Close toBunyala Rice Scheme is Yala Swamp. We have surveyed several kilometers into the site. No people inhabit the area that we have walked so far. Phew! no poisoning here! Indeed there has been no observed poisoning of birds in the IBA hitherto but it is disturbing that you find bird feathers along the paths especially where the habitat is still boggy. Further, none of the endemic bird species has been sighted so far despite our scanning deep into the few papyrus vegetation stands that await to be cleared because we were informed that they are already marked for farming.

Bunyala-Yala NovDec 084.JPG

A poor pphoto showing the silhouette of a Swamp Flycatcher still lucky to hold his ground. The undisturbed papyrus endemics like the Papyrus Yellow Warbler and the Papyrus Gonolek are not so lucky

The endemics need these extensive papyrus stands if they are to survive but which unfortunately are no more in this area . These are being impacted on by the locals from upland in Bunyala area.

Yet when we return to the rice scheme on our way back to camp, the killing scenario is the same. Furadan poisoned birds!

Bunyala-Yala NovDec 094.JPG

Part of a troupe of poachers loaded with their kill; waders in the sack and African open-billed Stocks on the leading poacher’s back

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FMC respond to report on lion killing with carbofuran

In a recent statement the FMC responded to the rebroadcasting of the CBS 60 Minutes show on the poisoning of lions.

Note my comments in bold italics against their claims reproduced here

In The News

· We expanded our contact with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Africa to improve reporting of suspected poisonings.July 26, 2009 FMC Response to 60 Minutes Rebroadcast of Story on Kenyan Lion Poisonings

Apart from the Masai Wildlands Trust we are not aware of any other NGO’s that FMC are talking to in Kenya and FMC have not responded to any of the incident reports sent and Linda Froelich has stopped responding  to our emails

On Sunday, July 26, CBS News 60 Minutes rebroadcasted a story on the human-wildlife conflict in Kenya that reports Furadan®, an FMC insecticide, has become the preferred product that many cattle herders use to poison lions that kill their livestock. As we stated when the story first aired in March, FMC strongly condemns the misuse of its products that are clearly intended to be used for crop protection. We are very concerned about allegations that the product has been used illegally to kill wildlife. The company has taken several actions to address the situation including:

· Stopped all sales of Furadan to Kenya immediately after learning of an incident in May 2008.

· Initiated a Furadan buy-back program in Kenya in March 2009 to remove any remaining product from the market. Our distributor and conservation groups, such as the Maasailand Preservation Trust, report that Furadan is no longer stocked in Agrovet stores.

carbofuran in Kenyan Agrovets

This is not true. Carbofuran remains available throughout Kenyan Agrovets.

Juanco carbofuran Furadan pesticide wildlife poisoning

The distributors website (Juanco) does not mention that Furadan is toxic to human beings and must be handled with great care.   We believe that the impression given through the label is that Furadan is a safe product.  Juanco now markets itself as safe through the tag line promise ‘Juanco going biological’.

· FMC’s distributor discontinued Furadan sales into Tanzania and Uganda in April 2009. Packages of Furadan in Tanzanian agrovet stores show that carbofuran is still coming into Tanzania from imports via Kenya

· FMC has offered to subsidize Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) lab analysis of samples of animals suspected to have been poisoned with Furadan. The KEPHIS lab uses a more expensive but substantially more sensitive analytical test than other Kenyan labs.

We have seen nothing in writing to confirm this and the KEPHIS laboratories seem oblivious of this. They have refused to test our samples 

· FMC has requested all information about suspected wildlife poisonings from the Kenyan Wildlife Service under their official procedures.

The official procedure is not to report to FMC but to the Pest Control Products Board in Kenya (PCPB) who have not met with KWS or conservationists to discuss concerns. Neither the PCPB nor FMC have responded to any of our submitted reports. On phone the PCPB CEO insisted that the data collected did not constitute facts that they could go on – dates, locations, photographs of incidents, samples collected, confessions. 

In April, FMC sent a second team to Kenya (first team was sent in March 2008) to get a more comprehensive understanding of intentional misuse of chemicals in the longstanding human-wildlife conflict. The team met with several NGOs as well as government officials from both the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The NGOs made a firm commitment to report all suspected cases of lion poisonings involving Furadan directly to the government and to FMC. To help encourage accurate reporting, we sent the NGOs specific information on what to look for if witnessing a poisoning event or if poisoned animals are found as well as our offer to subsidize lab analyses through KEPHIS. We continue to strongly encourage NGOs to include substantiated evidence to support their reports to government and FMC on suspected Furadan intoxications.

FMC is a global company dedicated to delivering innovative products that improve the lives of people around the world. We take tremendous pride, not only in our products, but in our stewardship programs. We will continue to work with the Kenyan government, agricultural industry and conservation groups to try to prevent the misuse of Furadan and any other pesticides used to kill wildlife.

From where we sit FMC make gross exaggerations about their stewardship programs in third world countries. FMC are aware of the scale of misuse of Furadan in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and other countries. FMC do not monitor whether Furadan is being used safely by farmers or test for contamination of groundwater or test for residues on crops produced and sold in local markets. Whatever information FMC has on the impact of Furadan on workers, consumers, users and the environment are not shared with any of the conservation organizations concerned about this product.

Furadan use is not restricted in East Africa. Users of Furadan can buy this deadly product over the counter for a very small fee throughout East Africa. Users are not registered, trained nor warned about the dangers of misuse, spills or symptoms of poisoning. It is sold in Agrovets (kiosks) by non professionals and in locatiosn that do not have effective poison control mechanisms, poison treatment centers, toxicology centers, residue monitoring of products, safe poison disposal mechanisms, pesticide monitoring or enforcement systems in place. FMC knows that Agrovets in East Africa actively offer Furadan to buyers as “Lion kille”. They have done nothing to raise local awareness about the dangers and penalties of misuse. Despite the evidence sent to FMC and the PCPB, no Kenyan has been charged and found guilty of Furadan misuse.

We invite FMC to reconsider the impact of their product on users, consumers and wildlife in Africa and withdraw the product completely and dispose of it safely while discontinuing the production of so dangerous a pesticide. The Kenyan pest control board have responded negatively to reports sent to them and declared that they will not investigate reports made by WildlifeDirect. The FMC could help by insisting that these investigations be carried out.

Huge Bird deaths in Thika, Kenya

We have just recieved reports that there has been a huge die off of birds at the Thika sewage works just north of Nairobi. This sewage works has been a favourite place for birders as it attracts a huge diversity and massive congregations of birds local and migrants

bird deaths thinka kenya

A team from Ornithology dept NMK in the company Oliver Nasirwa went to the Thika
sewage ponds to assess the reported case of dying birds at the site on the 26th
August 2009.

poisoned duck kenya

Ronald Mulwa notes:

“From my assessment and talking to the officers on the ground, the die off cases could
be going down. We found one Sacred Ibis really sick and unable to fly, also found one
Red-billed Teal just dying – apart from that the rest were 1 week old (or so) carcasses –
we assume that some carcasses also get swept away into the sewage outlet.

Though we are working on a more detailed update, the following are the
birds we found dead:
Sacred Ibis – 2 + 1 unable to fly
White-faced Whistling Duck -1
Red-billed Teal – 15
Red-knobed Coot – 5
Hadada Ibis – 2
Black-winged Stilt – sickly and unable to fly 1

black winged stilt poisoned

We thought this may not be termed ‘Mass Die Offs’ as such, since there were still 100s of birds feeding and actively flying around. But the root cause for the deaths need to be established urgently.

We took samples some carcasses that were in reasonable shape and have been taken to
Kabete Vet Labs this morning. The Cape Teal we found dying had a strange swellings ballooning out of both eyes like bubble! photos available!

The officer in charge was quit concerned, supportive and was keen to be involved in this
assessment and to see the results of the Lab analysis.

We welcome suggestions and further discussion.
Best regards
Mulwa Ronald
Research Scientist Head – Ornithology Section, Zoology Department
National Museums of Kenya
P. O Box 40658 00100
Nairobi Kenya
Tel: 254-20-3742131/3742161 extn 243
Fax: +254-20-3741424 Cell Phone: +254 722499

According to Brian Finch and a report from Oliver Nasirwa of Nature Kenya, the three days between the initial discovery on 23rd August 2009 and Olivers visit three days later, there was incredible variation in what both parties recorded.

Some of the dead birds disappeared including fifteen dead Spur-winged Plovers, Yellow-billed Ducks, Hottentot Teal, several Ruff and more than five Coot, is a mystery. This could be due to scavenging animals are moving in from the surrounding farmlands, maybe even local dogs.

Brian notes “the difference in live presence which is amazing, our figures
in brackets:

Little Grebe 450    (250)
Sacred ibis 170     (6)
Cattle Egret 5     (nil)
Yellow Billed Stork 13  (1)
Yellow-billed Duck 30   (15)
White-faced Whistling Duck 30   (20)
Red-knobbed Coot 50 (75)
Egyptian Goose 60  (40)
Grey Crowned Crane 12  (4)
Black-winged Stilt 100  (60)
Spur-winged Plover 50  (4 live fifteen dead!!!!)
Common Sandpiper 20 (20)
Curlew Sandpiper 30 (5)
Wood Sandpiper 10  (70)
Marsh Sandpiper 6 (1)
Little Stints 70 (90)
Chlidonias terns 30  (1WWBT)

We also recorded 2 White-backed Duck,  8 Hottentot, 2 Glossy Ibis, 10 Hadada, 2 Long-toed Plover, 6 Blacksmith Plover, 15 Three-banded Plover, 50 Ruff, 2 Green Sandpiper.

I think it erroneous to assume that birds that appear perfectly healthy are not infected and succumb later. Also I think that the difference by the two counts testifies that there is a considerable movement through the ponds, but even the birds that move on south or
wherever could have taken in a fatal dose.

If this were a terrorist situation we would be on a RED not ORANGE alert!”

The hotline to report bird die-offs to the Department of Veterinary Science is 0722-726-682.

To join the Nature Kenya bird group email [email protected]

Caution with ‘my’ poachers

Normally the term poacher brings out the impression that these are fellows hunting average sized to big game. In normal circumstances, ‘normal’poachers hunt game exclusively benefiting entirely from game meat sale and no other activity. I mean they are more or less specialized to this activity targettting ,mostly herbivores.

In Bunyala, poachers are bird hunters in the contemporary setting. But even these have stemed out from an older generation that hunted normally: I mean mainly specialized herbivore hunters relying almost solely on this activity. But of course these were hunted to none in the region.

When I talk of bird poachers therefore, you are less likely to fear that these guys could be dangerous to people who are nosing into their business but reality of the situation is contrary. Noinetheless they are normal people.

professional poacher.JPG

Maimed individuals already lying at his feet, this fellow is contemplating a long shot for disoriented individulas that have wondered far

The young man above is hardly in his thirties and poisons birds almost on a daily basis for sale. Off the poisoning field he is an electronics expert repairing mostly radios. Then again he gets hired to work in the irrigation scheme to chase birds, weed or harvest the rice. But may be he does all these tasks because he has two wives, the first of whom is ailing and bed ridden (I hope it is not a furadan-related illness, God forbid) and a couple of children.


This one is an older poacher in his mid thirties I am told has neither wife nor kids. His speciality is small bird and especially dove and pigeon poisoning rather than stork poisoning. But the guy also gets hired for farming activities in the Bunyala RErice Irrigation Scheme.



This guy is a homeowner in his late thirties; a family man and responsible father in a crude way:as you can see his sons are being drilled to take over and follow in his footsteps.


The band above constitutes agemates in their thirties and to a larger part bachelors. These guys all poison storks and it is their unifying factor. A good number have strange story lines inclusive of one known to have chopped off one local tailor’s arm for failing to finish the poacher’s girlfriend’s outfit on the agreed deadline ; another (the guy in green) is renowned for habitually beating up his father, the mentor that saw him rise to bird poisoning profession.

What is common to all these poachers is that they are known to generously spend their money earned in poisoning business in commodities that can best be described as illicit. After work, they flock in Illicit brew dens to down a few tumblers while Marijuana smoking is a norm of this callibre.

Wether the illicit substances are responsible or the guys are haunted by the mad killing of nature’s beings, generally these guys are feared to be bad tempered. Duels and gang fights are not uncommon amongst themselves over poisoned birds-which group’s bird is it?(if the poisoned bird takes off and falls in no man’s land); who is entitled to more dead birds?-It is real jungle style and some days my assistant and I have to watch from a distance. What is worse is that for some reason, which I suspect is poison availability, most of these guys have become so full of themselves and what used to be a joke, “just photograph what I am doing but time is coming when you will have to pay me” is now a real and altered stern warning that I should “absolutely refrain from taking any photos “.

The smell around these strange guys is typically wild, ortherwise fine by me whose ‘brown collar’ job has taught me to appreciate nature in its various shades. This smell is purpoted to be the effect of the many storks they have eaten which smell the same. But acknowledging the odour is disrupted by their warning breath of scary and menacing stench of terror!

Keep reading friends.

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No Lions in Kenya in 20 years?!

Dear readers,

This information is found in Telegraph. 18th, 2009)

Conservationists have warned that lions may become extinct in Kenya within the next 20 years unless urgent action is taken to save them.

Kenya is annually losing an average of 100 of its 2,000 lions due to growing human settlements, increasing farming, climate change and disease, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

And “….there are ever more efficient ways, including poisoning, to kill lions,” explains Dr. Laurence Frank.

Read the full article here.

But is it really 20 years or 10 years and markedly, Furadan is a key player in the catastrophic die out  of the lions and other big cats. Read it all in “Kenya’s lions could vanish within 10 years“, from The NewScientist.

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Raptors continue to be targeted for poisoning in Scotland

Another case of raptor poisoning is under investigation in Scotland by Tayside Police’s wildlife section and CID officials. The good thing however is that the community’s involvement may just be the beginning of the end to such poisoning.

Alma, a two year Golden Eagle succumbed to poisoning in Glenesk. Brechin Community Council vice-convener raised the issue at the meeting saying that it was fairly conclusive that the bird was poisoned in Glenesk. Community Councillor Agnes Lowdon added that she believes no one was targeting that bird since she is a free spirit but that they were for sure targeting a raptor. The indiscriminate use of poison is threatening to get rid of the population of Scotland’s natural bird.

In Kenya, with early arrivals already reported, we await the coming of the Lesser Kestrels dreading the likelihood that the Lesser Kestrel exhibiting speedy depopulation worldwide (up to 46% in breeding grounds abnd 25% in wintering groundsevery decade since 1971)is directly poisoned in my study site in Bunyala. I am therefore designing a study to this effect.

While the species conventional mode of feeding alienates it from direct poisoning by poachers, probable survival mechanisms may just be exposing it to the poisoning like other birds that feed on poison bait. Normally they will detect insects on close range in flight and feed on them on the wing, but in Bunyala, the small falconids are sometimes observed to perch on the ground and near bait. Scattered Furadan-laced insect bait may not pose great risk of consumption by the Kestrels but gathered bait sometimes left on sheets of paper may just be easy catch for the Lesser Kestrels.

lacing termites with Furadan solution.JPG

Termites being mixed with Furadan. Sometimes these may be left out in the field where the Kestrels were seen to hunt.

These photos were taken in late April this year and on closer scrutiny left me fearful if the birds are not getting poisoned as well.


A Lesser Kestrel perched on the ground where scattered bait had been laid out

hunting kestrel 1.JPG

Another Lesser Kestrel flying down to pick an insect in a transect where I was observing for bird poisoning


Kestrel on slaughter house 1.JPG

More Common Kestrels than Lesser Kestrels were seen to perch higher; nearer and strategic to ambush insects in flight?outcompeting the Lessers that were forced to scavenge sometimes?therefore feeding on poison bait?It has been observed sthat ome birds have higher lethal doses such as Egrets or even resistance and may not necessarily die on the site but elsewhere further possibly at their roost;might be the case with the kestrels.

Kestrels at sunset.JPG

A mixed flock of the kestrels going to roost. The insect like forms against the orange sunset background are the individual birds.

Just a note of concern is that the Golden Eagle is regionally extinct in Ireland, neighbouring Scotland while the globally threathened Lesser Kestrel is known to face pesticide poisoning as one of its threats in its range both directly but also through causing reduction in its prey availability.

Please keep reading.

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