For those regular visitors to the park, Jasper the common buzzard has been a part of our display team for the last 20 years and part of my life for a good few more. For his handlers, he has always been a reliable if not grumpy part of life at the park, so it is with sadness, we have to announce his passing at the grand old age of 35.

How the years have flown by! I first met Jasper at the age of 12 at the local agricultural show in my home town Todmorden, he along with his handler David are the reason I am where I am today.

After that first chance to hold a bird of prey on a gloved hand at the show, I was lucky to be introduced to David and Jasper through my scout leader a couple of years later. My fascination grew and prompted me to read as many books on birds of prey as I could get hold of and I became a font of all theoretical knowledge on the subject (at least that’s what I thought.) Then came the cantankerous buzzard Jasper, who was all beak and feet and wasn’t afraid to use them on a rather clumsy would-be young falconer!

Richard with Jasper

At the age of 16, myself with Buzzard in tow headed for North Yorkshire to work at a falconry centre (I had always told my careers advisor at school that was the plan). Jasper came into his own, learning to slope and soar on the prevailing westerly winds whilst I watched on. Having served my apprenticeship, we headed for the Lakes to work here at the park.

Jasper having

developed his skills, would patrol the skies above the park for the next 20 years, getting

in many a scrape with the wild Buzzards. He would regularly soar so high until he was a speck, always returning to a gloved hand for food. Although capable of hunting for himself he rarely did, always preferring the easy life of food on the glove.

Thank you, Jasper you will be greatly missed.

Richard Robinson, Park Manager and the Team To find out more visit


For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. It is a beautiful story about the loss of a father and the journey the author undertakes when purchasing a goshawk on a Scottish quayside, through training the hawk while coming to terms with her own loss.

Goshawks were wiped out from the UK in the 19th century by persecution, egg- collecting and deforestation. Goshawks first started to reappear through


in the 1960s intentional and

accidental escapes from

falconers, who would ship them in, mainly from Germany and Poland. Since their reintroduction, their population has become sporadic around the country. Now, although they are still a rare sight, there are estimated to be around 410 breeding pairs, which are 1km or further from each other due to their highly territorial nature. The goshawk is still persecuted, however, with its nests being robbed continuously.

The goshawk can easily be mistaken for a WWW.THECOCKERMOUTHPOST.CO.UK

Northern Goshawk ©Ferran Pestaña

sparrowhawk, with the male only being slightly larger than a female sparrowhawk, while a female is around the same size as a buzzard. Its piercing orange eyes topped with broad white eyebrows give it a sinister look. Additionally, the male has a dark patch behind the eye, highlighting its daunting demeanour.

They are elusive, secretive animals, making them very hard to spot. They can normally

be found in open deciduous woodland and forests. Late summer

is the highest

chance of seeing them as their young will have hatched, bringing a loud calling for food.

Their nests, very large in size, are usually made of twigs and leaves and are rebuilt every year in the same spot, using the same foundations from the previous efforts. A goshawk will usually lay around three to four eggs.

A goshawk lives up to its predatory status with a diet ranging from a variety of smaller birds, to pheasants and rabbits. The goshawk is hard to find, so it is exhilarating to see this rare predator that was once lost shores.

from our

There are believed to be around ten breeding pairs of goshawks in Cumbria and one has been sighted at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, near Witherslack within the last few years. For directions to the nature reserve visit

ISSUE 422 | 25 JANUARY 2018 | 47

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