BBC’s Springwatch slammed over ‘incomplete’ owl report

A moorland group has criticised Chris Packham’s ‘Springwatch’ show over a report about an owl that ignores the role of grousemoor managers.

The programme broadcast on 29 May featured a short-eared owl it called ‘Dumyat’ which was tagged in Scotland and flew around Europe. The Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group says the BBC’s report “missed a few important facts”.

In a Facebook post, TCSMG told the “true story” about the owl, which was tagged north of Stirling, where it had its first brood in 2017.

Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams said the following year the bird spent its time near Perth but left out the fact it was living on a driven grousemoor, according to TCSMG. In April its eggs hatched there.

Iolo Williams telling the Springwatch version of the story.

“What was also missing from the report was that the second brood that she had the following year mentioned on Springwatch was successfully reared on the same Grouse Moor that she visited previously in Perth,” TCSMG said in its Facebook post.

Packham is a long-time critic of driven grousemoors, ignoring considerable evidence proper moor management benefits wildlife.

Chris Packham

“The BBC cannot cut out the true facts of the success of these birds,” said TCSMG.

Dumyat successfully hatched the chicks and stayed with them for two or three weeks when the male took over the role and “didn’t abandon them straight away like suggested on the report”.

Dumyat flew to Norway for the next brood, where Springwatch claimed it “abandoned her chicks again”.

The bird flew back to southern Ireland, then Cornwall and spent spring in Kent, TCSMG said, differing from the Springwatch version, which said it went to Devon and Norfolk.

The bird died when it was caught in a storm on its way back to Norway.

“We are proud to share this story,” TCSMG wrote, “however ashamed that sporting estates were not given the recognition for the successful breeding of these amber listed bird.”

“The good work these estates and their staff do for conservation has once again been ignored. As these birds are ground nesting she may not have had this success if it wasn’t for keepers controlling predators.”

You can follow TSCMG on Facebook @tcsmg and Instagram @tcs.mg

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