Raptor Prize & Presentations


The Watson Raptor Prize was initiated in 2011 and recognises excellence in the field of raptor science, an area of study that was so important to Donald and Jeff Watson.

The Selection Panel comprises Professors Des Thompson - who chairs the panel - Ian Newton and Steve Redpath.


Watson Raptor Science Prize 2017

In its seventh year, the prestigious 2017 Prize for the best scientific publication on European raptor research, published last year, has been awarded to: 


Mueller, A.-K., Chakarov, N., Heseker, H. and Krüger, O. (2016).  Intraguild predation leads to cascading effects on habitat choice, behaviour and reproductive performance. Journal of Animal Ecology, 85: 774–784. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12493

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.12493/full.  This is an excellent analysis of a 25 year study of interactions between eagle owls, northern goshawks and common buzzards in three regions in Westphalia, Germany.  


Muriel, R., Morandini, V., Ferrer, M., & Balbontín, J. (2016). Juvenile dispersal behaviour and conspecific attraction: An alternative approach with translocated Spanish imperial eagles. Animal Behaviour, 116, 17–29.  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347216001068. This is a very important paper given the implications of the observed dispersal behaviour in eagles for major conservation translocation trials.

This prestigious, annual prize has been established to recognize the most outstanding, peer reviewed scientific publication on raptor ecology, based on research undertaken in Europe.  Established in the names of the late Donald and Jeff Watson, this award forms part of a unique initiative to establish the Watson Bird Centre, and St John’s Town of Dalry in Galloway, SW Scotland, as a bird town.

On reviewing a large number of publications in 2016 the selection panel, comprising Professors Des Thompson FRSE (Chair), Ian Newton OBE FRS FRSE and Steve Redpath, was unanimous in selecting the winner and runner up.

Commenting on the selection, Professor Des Thompson stated:  “Superb research on raptors is being carried out in Europe, and we were struck this year by the importance again of long-term studies.  These papers should inspire the next generation of raptor scientists.  We were spoilt for choice given the range of high quality science being published on raptors.”

Director of the Watson Bird Festival, Professor Roger Crofts CBE FRSE, commented: “Watson Birds is all about celebrating excellence, and the Watson Raptor Science Prize is a unique contribution. I thank the panel for their meticulous work. I join the Panel members to warmly congratulate the authors of the papers. “


Presentations from the Raptor Science Supports Conservation Conference:

Barlow South Scotland Golden Eagle Reinforcement

Challis Developing the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme

Crofts Watson Birds and Raptors

Ferrer Birds & Wind Farms State of the Art in Spain

Lambin Intraguild Predation Part 1

Lambin Intraguild Predation Part 2

Newton 50 years of Raptor Research Part 1

Newton 50 years of Raptor Research Part 2

Poxton Merlins in the Lammermuirs

Whitfield and Fielding Golden eagle Tracking Study

Wilson and Roos Key Recent Science for UK Raptor Conservation

2016 Prize

In its sixth year, the 2016 Prize for raptor research published last year has been awarded to Sarah Hoy and colleagues for their paper: ‘Age and sex-selective predation moderate the overall impact of predators’ published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.12310/full  The authors are:  Sarah R. Hoy, Steve J. Petty,  Alexandre Millon, D. Philip Whitfield,  Michael Marquiss, Martin Davison and Xavier Lambin

You can read the full press release here.

2015 Prize

After careful consideration we are recommending the 2015 Prize for raptor research published in 2014 be awarded to Fabrizio Sergio and colleagues for their paper: ‘Individual improvements and selective mortality shape lifelong migratory performance’, published in Nature. 

You can read the full press release here.

2014 Prize

The 2014 Watson Raptor Prize has been awarded to Raymond Klaassen and colleagues for their publication,(2014) 'When and where does mortality occur in migratory birds? Direct evidence from long-term satellite tracking of raptors'. Journal of Animal Ecology, 83: 176–184. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12135

Runner up was awarded to Christiane Trierweiler et al. for their publication, (2013) 'A Palaearctic migratory raptor species tracks shifting prey availability within its wintering range in the Sahel'. Journal of Animal Ecology, 82: 107–120. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.02036.x

To access the Journal by Ben Koks et al. on ‘A Palaearctic migratory raptor species tracks shifting prey availability within its wintering range in the Sahel’ please click here.

To access Raymond Klaassen's Journal 'When and where does mortality occur in migratory birds? Direct evidence from long-term satellite tracking of raptors', please click here.

Check out the Watson Raptor Science Prize press release here!

2013 Prize

The 2013 Prize has been awarded to Miguel Ferrer and colleagues for their paper entitled "Weak Relationship between Risk Assessment Studies and Recorded Mortality in Windfarms".

Richard J Evans et al's "The History of Eagles in Britain and Ireland: an ecological review of place-name and documentary evidence from the last 1500 years" is Highly Commended.

Click here for the announcement Click for "Paper in full".

2012 Prize

The 2012 Prize awards were


Click on the Certificates to read the papers in full.

2011 Prize

The 2011 Prize was awarded to Jennifer Smart and colleagues for

"Illegal Killing Slows Population Recovery of a Re-introduced Raptor of High Conservation Concern - The Red Kite Milvus Milvus"

Click for "Announcement" or for the "Paper in full".


Papers presented at the Watson Bird Festival - September 2012

At the 2012 Watson Bird Festival an enthusiastic audience attended a programme of  presentations and discussion on the state of Hen Harrier conservation on the 35th anniversary of the publication of Donald Watson's seminal book - "The Hen Harrier".

The Presentation Programe was

"A History of Hen Harriers in the South of Scotland" - Chris Rollie
"Hen Harriers in Orkney: A Success Story" - Eric Meek
"Hen Harriers and Grouse on Langholm Moor - Managing a Special Challenge" - Aly McCluskie
"Hen Harriers in Scotland Today: What does the Future Hold ?" - Brian Etheridge

Click on "Presentation Programme" for more programme details and on the individual presentations to view them in full.

Download the Watson Raptor Science Prize Papers here