Yesterday I NERFed at the North of England Raptor Forum in Bakewell (whence come the tarts, or maybe puddings).

I’ll tell you more about this excellent event later but the first, and, in a way, best, talk of the conference was that of Alan Fielding on the update of the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework.

We should expect nothing much to change it seems. The overall estimates for potential population levels will fall, perhaps by quite a lot, but the population levels in the real world are so low that this won’t make much difference to how the conservation status of the Hen Harrier will be seen.  You might say, I wouldn’t, that there are still Llareggub Hen Harriers however many are predicted (in a very Dylan Thomas type of way).

Weather is important, overgrazing by sheep is important and forest restocks are important – it seems.  Things are changing all the time except that the role of illegal persecution, wildlife crime, is still as important as ever.  Plus ca change… etc etc

There may be too many sheep in Wales, except in SPAs, for there to be many more Hen Harriers, but there are too many grouse shooters in England for there to be many Hen Harriers. Personally, I prefer the sheep.

Photo: George Gastin via wikimedia commons
Photo: George Gastin via wikimedia commons



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10 Replies to “NERF”

  1. Why do you prefer the sheep? I live in wales some of the uplands, particularly if you drive from llangurig up to ponterwyd and over to Aberystwyth are completely bold apart from the conifer forests? I have never stepped foot on a grouse moor but from photos ive seen they look preferable.

  2. Grouse shooters have the annoying habit of getting rid of certain species but sheep get rid of entire habitats

      1. Fair point, Mark - but there are more than 10 million sheep in England, and as a consequence (as Peter says) a lot of bald land which could be growing something much more interesting and profitable than sheep.

  3. I too enjoyed what Alan told us and some of it was quite new and important, for years we had assumed based on old work that HH need to rear 1.1 chicks per attempt to maintain population and we learnt that it is now thoght to be 1.6. That first year survival is about 36% and adult 77% in normal populations. Now look at the NE satellite tag data for England, 1st year survival 0%, no wonder "our birds" are in trouble. To rule out the effect of the tags may be we should be asking for the same information pertaining to the radio tagged birds too! The Orkney stuff fascinated too is their very low productivity partly a function of polygamy I wonder, didn't get the chance to ask? That the Western Isles and the West Highlands must be exporting young almost everywhere else was a new one and quite critical for the species too. Not too sure about sheep or grouse shooters , its a pretty awful choice. They both screw habitat but only one is edible, at least legally.

  4. Greenfly,guess a expert like yourself could advise those farmers what would be more profitable than sheep.

  5. Interesting to note that one Estate up here is having to mow parts of their Moor now the grazing has been reduced ( at their behest) as the rough grass is spreading and taking over from the heather.
    Oh and don't forget, you and I have helped pay for this 'subsidised' removal of sheep.

  6. More accurately most of us pay a very very small amount towards uplands looking great where sheep are grazed sensibly,
    It is a very hard life living in these cold wet areas and conservationists going there on very nice days(usually)have no idea of the awful conditions these people endure day in day out which is why almost all the youngsters from these uplands find easier work and better weather in the lowlands.


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