Hen Harrier Day 2014

Hen-Harrier-Day-300pxToday is the day.

You have until 10am to join the social media thunderclap and add your voice to the roll of thunder in support of the Hen Harrier.

Best wishes to everyone heading to a Hen Harrier Day event today.




Song for the Hen Harrier Day team across the country!

Hen-Harrier-Day-300pxYou can find this protest song supporting Hen Harrier Day on You Tube.

And its writer/performer, aurellio33, will be present at the Peak District Hen Harrier Day event on Sunday.





My article in August Birdwatch – via Birdguides

1408 p001 cover_with comp v2.inddHere is a link to an extract from my article in August Birdwatch about Hen Harrier Day.

This year we are all waking up to the fact that we can do something about it. The summer of 2014 is seeing an unprecedented backlash against grouse shooting. We have been quiet for too long, and now birders, anti-shooting groups, those worried about damage to blanket bogs, ramblers and a host of other people are pointing at intensive grouse moor management and saying that it must clean up its act or its days are numbered.’


Lush Peterborough


From left to right: Amy (at the back), Grace (front), Hayley (middle), Helena and Dave.

I have never spent so much of a day smelling soap. But after yesterday morning’s visit to Lush in Northampton, I called in at Lush in Peterborough and met Amy, Grace, Hayley,Helena and Dave.  They knew their stuff about hen harriers too.

pboro1I asked whether any of them had heard of Hen Harriers before this campaign started and they all said no! – which isn’t the least bit surprising.  But they all knew about them now!

The window display had arrived about three days ago with some briefing material and the staff had been swotting up since and helping each other understand the details by talking it through.

And they already had about 100 signed postcards to send to the Queen asking her to save the Hen Harrier, so if every Lush store across the UK gets 100 each day for a few days there will be quite a pile landing on our monarch’s door mat.

I was told that lots of people had stopped and looked at the window display and taken away some information even if they weren’t really Lush customers. I saw several blokes stop and look at the window display, look a bit scared of entering the shop of fruity smells, and then scurry away.

It was really obvious that this was a way of getting the message to lots of people, ordinary people, who knew little and cared less, until now, of Hen Harriers, grouse moors or shooting bags.  A very big ‘Thank you!’ to Lush – and I think your staff are totally wonderful!

I now own even more bath bombs.  You could pay a visit to your local Lush over the next few days and tell them how wonderful you think they are.




A quote from the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner

ACHeadShoulders3-Cropped-272x171Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles is passionate about the need to tackle wildlife crime and his work to date shows that he is raising awareness and delivering change.

He said:

“Hen Harrier day is a really positive, peaceful, initiative which I wholeheartedly support.  If we don’t work to protect these once abundant birds they will disappear forever and that would be a tragedy.  We must raise awareness of the problem in the wider public arena to garner increased support to enable us to protect the meagre numbers in circulation now, so that hopefully breeding patterns will start again.  If we work together with the public I believe we can stop the persecution of these wonderful birds and really make a difference.”


Hen Harrier Day weather

Hen-Harrier-Day-300pxLooks like tomorrow could see heavy rain in the Peak District.

Join the thunderclap to highlight the plight of the Hen Harrier in England – only 3 pairs when there should be 300+because of illegal killing by grouse shooting interests.


Guest Blog by Roderick Leslie – Terry’s future 2

Terry ducked into the low tunnel, pleased the five people following were so quiet. Twenty metres on, they arrived in the cramped dugout with its narrow slits facing across the glade in the young birch wood. It wasn’t long before a small grey snout appeared, followed by a the cub. Terry felt his companions hold their breath as several more cubs and their mother appeared.

Walking back through the darkening evening, everyone was quiet, reflecting on what they had seen. For Terry, the Wolves really were the icing on the cake – fantastic, wonderful animals he loved to watch – and the animals that had secured his family’s future. This evening he’d earn as much as he’d have earns in a week as an under keeper, and then there was the way his wolf watchers treated him, as a hugely respected expert. A mile away, he reflected, from his cynical boss’s ‘Just do what it takes to put the birds over the guns – and remember you’ll be out of a job if you don’t’. Or the guns – most were real gentlemen, but there was always the money element who judged a man solely by how much he earned – and on that basis an under keeper was worth slightly less than a retriever with a good pedigree.

The Wolves weren’t reliable, of course, but with so much else around there was always something to show people, the Pine Martens, Beavers, Ospreys, Eagle Owls to name just a few.

Terry regretted the decade away after he lost his job – but in that time he’d made the money and gained the skills to build his own eco-house and he scored a maximum on the Government’s privilege scheme to attract people back to the new uplands – and what a change he found ! New woodlands springing up naturally, alongside the few remaining farms, a host of new wildlife, rejuvenated rivers and, best of all a growing, young population.

His wildlife watching business got off to a good start – but he needed more publicity. He remembered that at the height of the battle over grouse shooting Chris Packham had said he’d do what he could to help any keeper who had lost out. Back then, of course, he was the bogeyman and Terry blamed him for the loss of his job. But why not give it a try ? A month later Terry watched the TV crew draw up in front of his house. Coffee inside was tense but as soon as Terry and Chris walked through the garden gate into the woods they clicked: a magical day later, and an applauded half hour documentary later, and Terry was booking a year ahead.

Terry thought about the trout they’d be eating for supper – caught by him that morning, three times the size he remembered thanks to the Alder and Birch and the Beaver pools. His freezer was full of venison and Boar, too – despite the Wolves there was still enough to go round. It amused him that people had thought shooting would eliminate Boar again – some chance ! Alongside his wife’s renowned sausages, they were also stars of his popular night walks – watching bats, Nightjar and Woodcock, but with the little stripy piglets seen through night vision gear the stars of the show.

Of course, like anyone Terry still faced problems: the neighbours were a bit mixed – he got on well with the professional mountain bikers who always respected his advice about avoiding sensitive spots, the sheep farmers still worried him, despite the generous compensation for the rare losses to Wolves, but he really didn’t understand the Buddhist meditators at all – at least they were harmless and loved the environment. And they were all fighting together, against a dozy local authority, to extend the school, which shot from near closure to Portacabin-overcrowding in just a decade.

As Terry thought about the dream family holiday he thought he’d be able to afford at last – an East African Safari – he reflected on the extraordinary journey from the day grouse shooting went – whoever would have guessed he’d be here doing the work he loved more than anything in this new, rewooded environment, better off and happier than he could ever have imagined.


A new website on Hen Harriers

Have a look at this brand new website – it brings together many of the activities that are going on at the moment.

In time, you will be able to follow, in real time, the fate of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers and help keep an eye on them.

It’s an interesting take on the three pairs nesting in England this summer that they have been named – what do you think of the names?


Send a ‘selfie’ to go on the Hen Harrier trail in Northumberland

Here’s mine!Tshirt

Send yours – which will undoubtedly be more attractive – to @birdersagainst


Martyn and Joe in Lush Northampton


Joe (left) and Martyn (right) in the Lush store in Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre.

I strolled into the Northampton branch of Lush this morning at 0910 and asked about this ‘Hen Harrier campaign thing’.

photo 3Crikey was I impressed!

Martyn was able to tell me loads – and all of it was right. He really knew his stuff although he clearly isn’t a ‘birder’. After we had got to the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting I admitted that I knew a bit about this already and then I stayed and we chatted, and I answered a few questions from the guys. And it’s bath-bombs all round for the family too!

Joe was impressive too. When I said that grouse shooters say that grouse shooting brings money into upland communities he said ‘So does tourism’ quick as a flash, and when I said that grouse shooters say that other species benefit from management for Red Grouse he said ‘But they can’t need it can they? What did they do before grouse shooting?’. Sometimes, we make things seem more complicated than we need.

It seems that two blokes selling soap and toiletries in the middle of Northampton can see through the main arguments of the grouse shooting lobby without much help from anyone else – let’s just remember that.  Or more importantly, maybe grouse shooting should remember that.

I picked up my postcard to send to The Queen and left with a shopping bag full of smelly things (nice smells, of course) and a big grin on my face.  If Lush staff are all as good as Martyn and Joe then the messages about hen harriers will be spread far and wide across the shoppers of the UK over the next few days.

In fact, if RSPB, Greenpeace or FoE are looking for advocates then just give Joe and Martyn a call – they’d be very good.

Wasn’t there once a perfume called Tweed that was all the rage in the 1980s? Does anybody use it these days? Do you miss it?

photo 2