Hen harrier conservation UK-July 2014

Hen harriers are raising young in England for the first time since 2012 and work on tagging  with high tech satellite tracking devices is on going to keep a track on the fledglings once they have left the nest.

Two of the three nests in England are on the United Utilities Estate in the Bowland Fells in my home county of Lancashire,traditionally a stronghold for the English Hen harrier. two of the chicks were fitted with the tags by Natural England's Stephen Murphy { the remaining chicks to be tagged when they are old enough}. These birds will be monitored by the RSPB,as part of their Sky Dancer Project which seeks to protect and conserve Hen harriers in the English uplands.

Jude Lane, the RSPB's Bowland Project Officer, said {July 4th}, Once the birds have fledged,we will be able to follow the birds and gain valuable information about where they hunt roost,and with a bit of luck, where they breed. The more we can learn about these amazing birds,the more we can do to help their numbers recover"

The RSPB also hope that the tags will also provide evidence of any illegal activity against the birds.

Chicks from a third nest in an undisclosed location in the north of England,have also been tagged by Stephen. the two fledglings,'Joanne' and 'Imogen',named by Thomas Fell-a young local volunteer- will be monitored  under natural England's  Hen Harrier Recovery Project,designed to increase our understanding of hen harrier movements and behaviour.

Satellite tracking provides vital information for the project which was established in 2002 to help monitor the numbers of breeding Hen harriers in England and target conservation actions.

Stephen said," the light weight satellite tags weigh just 9.5 grams,and are solar recharging,giving an operational life of about three years. These are fitted to the birds on the point of fledge using a Teflon harness back-pack design.This is where technology can really aid conservation,as there is no better way of gaining an insight into the complex dispersal of this iconic bird"

Courtesy of Natural England. 

Hen Harrier in flight.

Courtesy of Dan Pancamo CC BY-SA 2.0 generic license { originally posted to Flickr}

Hen harrier day Peak District

Mark Avery is organizing a Peak District Hen Harrier  on Sunday the 10th of August 2014 from 09;00 to 11;00 [BST}.  This is a peaceful protest against the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers in the English Uplands. See @markavery {twiiter} 

RSPB Sky-dancer project would like to hear of any sightings

If you think you have seen a Hen harrier please let  the RSPB know by telephone or email information on what it looked like,where it was { with a grid reference if possible} and what it was doing { eg flying north, hunting,carrying nesting material} can help them to keep track of these birds and identify where they may be nesting.

Tel; 0845 4600 121* calls charged at local rates.

E mail; henharriers@rspb.org.uk

You can contact the Sky dancer project officer

Tel-0191 2334321 or

E mail: < Anna McWilliam@rspb.org.uk>

to contact Anna McWilliam skydancer Project Officer 

Hen harrier protest day arranged for 10th August. 3 venues.

 A protest day has been arranged for the Forest of Bowland { Lancashire }.

The South Tyne Trail  {Northumberland}

Derwent Dam  { Derbyshire Peak District}.

The reason for these events which are open to anyone who cares about these beautiful birds of prey which have been persecuted almost to extinction. Chris Packham will attend the Peak district event.

Also see--birdersagainst.org/hen-harrier-day-overview/

If you read nothing else today please read this and especially the comments.


Or visit my twitter page @liptrot_dave 

Or Alan Davies @Alan Twitch 

DEFRA led Joint Action Plan For Hen Harrier July 25th 2014

See what the Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust think about it. Visit gamewildlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/defra-led-join-action-plan-for-hen.html

First Hen Harrier day a success


Overview of the day visit birdsagainst.org/hen-harrier-day-overview/ 

September 2014

The breeding attempts of hen harrier's in the peak District gave hope to conservationists.Unfortunately the National Trust have announced that three of the five chicks are now dead. All indications show that that two of the birds have fell victim to natural predation. The body of the third chick along with the other two have been sent for Post Mortem {standard practice} but there is no evidence of suspicious activity at this stage.

The nation trust statement added that the chicks were not helped by having fledged so late in the season and it is a well established concept that the offspring of early breeders generally have  a much better rate of survival than those of late breeders.

One of the chicks  of the Peak District-now a young female hen harrier.

Courtesy of Tim Birch Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

October 2014

Read Mark Avery's article on the disappearance of tagged- hen harriers,it is well worth the visit.


Also read the BASC's article on the same subject--

basc.org.uk/blog/press-releases/latest-news/basc-urges-caution-and -evidence -based -investigation-of-missing-hen-harriers/


Summarizing 2014.

2014 was the year that Hen Harriers raised chicks in England uplands once again. However, and sadly, the RSPB felt it necessary to mount a twenty four hour guard on the nest,and this after some 60 years after the protection of birds Act has been in force. The nesting pairs were a very welcome Occurrence after none at all bred in England during 2013.

Because none bred in England in 2013, it caused somewhat of an outcry among conservationist, which led to the Hen Harrier Days of protest mentioned above.

Persecution against the Hen Harrier still goes on and because of their remote habitat catching the persecutors is extremely difficult. Also against the bird's best interest the habitat in which they breed, our precious uplands,with their peat bogs,heather-clad moors and rugged outcrops that make up the 'wilderness' is also suffering from mismanagement  and studies have revealed that as little as 4% of Uplands is in good ecological condition. The RSPB and other conservation organizations are campaigning to get something done about these problems.

The grouse issue which has always led to a split between those that raise grouse on the moors for shooting and conservationists acting on the Hen Harriers behalf, is still an ongoing problem.Because grouse shooting brings in a good revenue for the land owners ,for example one would have to pay up to £1,800 for the privilege of bringing down defenceless birds it is understandable that the landowners would be reluctant to give any concessions to the conservationists.  

Thus a compromise is needed to attain the balance between successful grouse shooting and protection for the nesting habitat of Hen harriers and also protection for the birds themselves. The RSPB have taken a pragmatic approach. In July they wrote to the major political parties urging them to introduce a licensing system to govern 'driven' grouse shooting. The RSPB want the license as follows.

* Hunting should be subject to a transparent planning and reporting process,including commitments to meet agreed quotas of grouse shot and to meet statutory obligations for protected species,habitats and areas. 

* Licensing should allow for reasonable access for monitoring.

*Licensing should require implementation of the management necessary to deliver the site's conservation responsibilities.

*Any breach of conditions or existing environmental legislation should lead to the license being revoked.

*Licensing should be cost neutral to the state.

Information courtesy of the RSPB. 

This sounds  a good compromise however, after twenty years of wrangling, argument and counter argument only time will tell if the RSPB 's proposals are are excepted.

One hopes that they are then the future of the Hen harrier would be much more favourable and we will see these birds gracing our skies for a long time to come. Watch this space!!

Hen Harriers at Westminster. December 11th 2014.

Rare Bird Alert posted on twitter [See http;//www.twitter.com/RareBirdAlertUK/status/542258873135288320/photo/1

May 2015--Bad news for Lancashire Hen harriers.

Three nesting male Hen harriers have disappeared in unexplained circumstances from Lancashire.{north west England}. Lancashire police and the RSPB, are appealing for information  that would uncover the fate of these birds and a reward of £10,000 is offered for information that leads to a conviction.

The first of the birds disappeared from their nest during early April,and another two males have not been seen seen since April 30.In the case of the first nest another young male came in straight away to take the place of the missing bird and the safety of the nest was secured. In the case of the other two nests they were not so lucky. Because the female relies on her mate to bring her food during the incubation period,she had to leave her eggs to hunt resulting in a failure of both nests. 

The Hen harrier  are England's most threatened breeding bird species and only four nests were successful in the whole of the country last season. two of these were in the United Utilities Bowland Estate in Lancashire. These nest failures are sure to have a huge impact on the future of Hen harriers in England. With only one nest remaining the future of Hen harriers in England looks grim.

Lancashire police and the RSPB are investigating the unexpected disappearance of these male birds. hen harriers have suffered from persecution over the last few years even though they are a protected species. The disappearance of the male birds will be investigated and the Police and the RSpb are confident they will find out what happened to them.

Although the nests are monitored twenty four hours a day the males are vulnerable for they forage some distance from the nest in order to find food. The police and the RSPB will continue to work together, not only to investigate the missing males but to ensure the remaining nest is successful.

Watch this space for future developments. 

June 2015. Another male Hen Harrier disappears it is time {long overdue} to catch the people responsible. This is the 5th this year. To read more visit raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/desperate-days-as-the-5th-male-hen-harrier-disappears/


August 2015

Despite attempts by certain organisations to smear conservation bodies and in particular the RSPB, Hen harriers have had the most successful breeding season for five years.Despite poor weather during the breeding season,there have been six successful nests fledging eighteen chicks. This despite five males 'going missing' causing the nests of those breeding birds to fail.

To read more visit www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=5158 

Hen Harrier conservation 2016

Lush Skydancer bath bombs raise over £100K for Hen Harrier conservation.To read type 

http://wp.me/pPKhi.2PA into your search bar. 

Hen harrier conservation 2016. April.

In 2015 there were six successful nests in England fledging 18 chicks, this despite the fact that there is enough suitable land to support 300 breeding pairs. This because the nests were monitored and protected.  Persecution is still going on all the time with birds being shot,poisoned and trapped.

The RSPB have started a programme of satellite tagging of Hen harrier chicks,which enable them to follow them wherever they go. This will increase knowledge of their movements and help to identify where they are most at risk from persecution. You ban follow a number of these tagged birds online at rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife

You can help to save these wonderful birds by reporting sightings of Hen harriers.

In England please e-mail henharriers@rspb.org.uk    or phone 08454600121   calls are charged at local rates.

In Scotland, please call the Partnership Against Wildlife CRime {PAW} Scotland, Heads up for Harriers Scheme on 07767671973    or e-mail henharrier@snh.gov.uk 

April 26. 2016

More persecution of hen harriers.  To view.  https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/national-trust-response-to-armed-man-with-decoy-hen-harrier-on-a-grouse-moor/

Young satellite hen harrier goes missing RSPB press release August 2016

Another satellite-tagged young bird goes missing in the Monadhliath mountains .RSPB ,Scotland, has announced that a young male hen harrier, fitted with a satellite transmitter as part of the charity's part EU-funded Hen harrier Life+project,has gone missing on a grouse moor south east of Inverness.

The bird named Elwood was the only chick to fledge from a nest in Banffshire, which was being monitored under the partnership Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland { PAW Scotland},'Heads up for harriers scheme.'

The transmitter data, being monitored by RSPB Scotland staff ,indicated that the young bird fledged from its nest in the first week of July, but stayed close to the site in the hills above the River Spey until the 20th,until he travelled more widely. By the 27th he had travelled 20 miles to the south west,and had settled in the hills around Tomatin. It remianed in this area with the transmitter providing detailed information about his daily travels until suddenly transmissions ceased on August 3rd. The birds last recorded position was an area of managed moorland a few miles from the Slochd summit on the A9.

{last week it also emerged that nine satellite tagged golden eagles had also disappeared  in the last five years in the northern Monadhliath range}

Mr Ian Thomson,RSPB,Scotland,Head of investigations team said " it is very concerning and this bird joins the long list of protected birds of prey that have been confirmed to have been illegally killed or have disappeared suddenly in this area. The transmitters fixed to these birds are extremely  reliable,and illegal persecution  is therefore the most likeliest explanation of the disappearance of these birds of prey. The absence of typical breeding raptor species from areas of suitable habitat, or at traditional nesting sites in large parts of the Monadhliath is further supporting evidence of a major problem of growing wildlife crime in the area."

Mr Thomson concluded by saying "The denials and obfuscation from representatives of the Land Management sector and their consistent failure to acknowledge and address this problem,is one of the main reasons our birds of prey populations are struggling in the eastern and central Highlands. We repeat our call to the Scottish Government to introduce a robust system of licensing of game bird hunting, where the right to shoot is dependent of legal and sustained management of the land in line with approaches adopted in most other European countries"

On-going page.

The work on this page is ongoing and conservation issues will be published as and when they are available.

Hen harrier.Courtesy of Aaron Howe. RSPB, Havergate Island. Standard YouTube License.


August 2017.  Results from the Hen Harrier 2016 surveys.

The survey revealed that the 2016 population consisted of 545 territorial pairs, a drop of 88 pairs since the last survey carried out in 2010. Scotland remians the stronghold with 460 pairs a decline of 9% since 2010. In England numbers have fell from 12 pairs in 2010 to just four pairs in 2016.

Declines were also recorded in Northern Ireland  from 59 pairs to 46 pairs  and In Wales from 57 pairs to 35 pairs  in the last six years. While on the Isle of Man the population remained stable at around 30 pairs. 

For more information

Visit Rapture Persecution UK. for more about hen harrier and other birds of prey still being persecuted.

Only one Hen Harrier event in the UK 2019

Although there is only one event scheduled for this year any one who cares about this, one of our most persecuted birds of prey species, is welcome to attend.

On Sunday the 11th of August, Wild Justice is organizing the event in conjunction with Severn Trent  Water, at Carsington Water in Derbyshire. It will be a family-friendly event with a host of great speakers. 

For more information visit Rapture persecution UK /news


gwct refuses to address accusation of deliberate misrepresentation

In March we blogged about how Andrew Gilruth of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) had recently written letters to four media outlets (The Field, BBC Wildlife, The Scotsman, The Independent) and in each one he’d included the same quote, attributed to the RSPB, that would suggest to the reader that the RSPB is supportive of grouse moor management techniques:

The RSPB has been clear that the ‘management of land for grouse shooting has protected upland areas from the worst of over-grazing and blanket conifer plantations, while generating income for upland communities and forming a uniquely British form of cultural land use‘”.

We showed that Andrew Gilruth had cherry-picked that particular quote, out of context, from a 2006 RSPB publication:

We argued that Andrew Gilruth’s cherry-picking activity appeared to be so deliberately deceptive that his motive must have been to mislead the public – a serious accusation for an organisation with charitable status, and especially for one that prides itself on its so-called scientific integrity.

Since March, we’ve complained to the GWCT about this apparent deceptive misrepresentation on three separate occasions; twice to Teresa Dent (Chief Executive) directly and when she didn’t reply we sent a complaint to her via GWCT’s general email address (info@gwct.org.uk). No response.

We then looked at the GWCT’s complaints policy (here), which opens with ‘We want to find out about things that have gone wrong so we can fix them and prevent things going wrong in the future‘.

However, bizarrely it seems this policy doesn’t apply to criticisms of GWCT’s media statements! Right at the bottom of the GWCT complaints policy it says this: ‘This policy does not cover comments made in the media‘.


We’ll next be making a formal complaint to the Charity Commission to investigate GWCT’s apparent deception and misrepresentation of the facts.