What they say 2:

From: Hen Harriers: your essential brief by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust:

Q How many hen harriers are there in the UK?

A There are 630 hen harrier pairs in the UK.

Q How many hen harriers are there in England?

A Hen harriers don’t stay within the borders of countries so it depends when in the year you count them. England also has higher numbers of harriers during migration and in the winter, when harriers visit from Scotland and continental Europe. Counts are not made of how many stay all year in England, but there are believed to be at least 12 pairs.


Crikey! Can’t even give a straight answer to their own questions! What a laugh!

The answer to the second question, according to everyone I talk to, is not ‘at least 12 pairs’; is not ‘42′; is not ‘the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind’; the answer is three pairs.  Any advance on three?

It is interesting that GWCT has rushed out a crib-sheet on what to say about Hen Harriers at this time. I wonder why they’ve done that? In their rattled rush to find something to say to those increasing numbers who are realising that a ban on driven grouse shooting is the option of least regret they have provided plenty of interesting tit-bits for this blog. We’ll come back to it now and again.


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13 Replies to “What they say 2:”

  1. Crikey...you have to leave your e-mail address to read their guide.... er no thanks..

  2. Mark, thanks for boosting downloads of this PDF. Hope we will also see as many taking part in the hen harrier survey http://www.gwct.org.uk/hhsurvey

    1. No Andrew no sensible Raptor worker is willing to tell the shooting lobby when they see a harrier or where. The reasons are very very obvious, we don't trust you and trust has to be earned!

  3. Not everyone has read the book...42 !
    As usual Dr Avery cherry picking and misleading.

  4. How many harriers in England? 3 pairs plus may be 3 or 4 unpaired birds would be my guess.

    1. ..and any of those migrants that visit the Yorkshire Dales end up dead! http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/hen-harrier-yorkshire.html#cr.
      Surely our National Parks need to be supporting wildlife and biodiversity, not rich landowners or industrial scale grouse shooting!

  5. Paul Irving's assessment seems a reasonable estimate however, beginning in May several raptor workers observed a third pair of Hen Harriers in Bowland over a three week period. This sighting was also backed up by a local gamekeeper who witnessed the same pair at the same location beginning with skydancing over a similar period in May. Depending upon who you speak to, eggs may or may not have been laid. One thing is certain, if a nesting attempt did take place it failed.

  6. Mark, there were the two single Hen Harriers written about in the Times by Simon Barnes, so with the pair in Cumbria there were only 5 pairs confirmed, with only 3 of these breeding. Doesn't say a lot for future status of an iconic moorland raptor in England does it?

  7. So we might have around ten or twelve adults at best, way short of the GWCT's 12 pairs. that is the figure from about 4 years ago. When NERF published the paper with Arjun Amar on the demographics of Peregrines on grouse moors we were accused of all sorts of things by the shooting lobby because inevitably in such circumstances the most recent data is a year or two old at best. Perhaps we should accuse GWCT of being behind the times and using old data or just of hypocricy.

    1. Paul - 'way behind the times' will do nicely. But, in the words of Bob Dylan - the times they are a changing!

  8. Love it - "counts are not made of how many stay all year in England" - could not be clearer. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  9. I've just read the document, the figures it quotes on density before brood management are totally unacceptable 1 pair per 10X10 km rather than 2 pairs per 5000 acres that were shown through the environment council to be a density that does no damage to the number of grouse going over the guns. Claim that ?English uplands can support only 82 pairs of which only 41 on grouse moors when the real figure is in the region of 330 pairs. THIS PLAN SHOULD BE A TOTAL NONSTARTER FOR ALL CONSERVATION ORGANISATIONS. They have very carefully cherry pecked data to support this so called DEFRA recovery plan much of which is dubious. They again quote the Langholm study I have not the time or room here to give my opinion as to why that study and its results are flawed and NOT APPLICABLE to almost all other grouse moors but they are not. I used to respect some of the very goos work that GWCT used to do but if this is their modern era "science" they are in a race to the bottom and getting close to it.

    1. More excellent news from Cat Barlow at Langholm:-

      'An excellent evening was had by all on Langholm Moor yesterday at our 'Watching the Moorland skies' event. Beautiful sunshine and light winds made for perfect viewing conditions of a variety moorland species including a family of Merlin; the young birds gaining confidence on the wing but still filing the air with their food begging calls.

      We were surrounded by Short Eared Owls - with both adults and young birds active it was difficult to know which direction to look in. The harriers didn't fail us and we enjoyed wonderful views of young birds exercising their wings and pestering their parents for food. Kestrel, Raven and an appearance by a Hobby made a lovely addition to the evening. Red Grouse broods with good sized young could be seen grazing on blueberries as they kept a wary eye out for anything that might like to make them lunch.'


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