Hen Harrier Day 2015 – thoughts?

Hen-Harrier-Day-300pxIt’s time to start thinking about what to do on Hen Harrier Day 2015 – which will be Sunday 9 August (the Sunday before the Inglorious 12th).

Birders Against Wildlife Crime are organising a conference in Buxton in March and I’m sure that the subject will come up there.


Here are some questions to get your thinking juices running.



RSPB involvement?

Wildlife Trust involvement?

National Trust involvement?

National Park involvement?

Police involvement?

Many events or few?

How to involve as many people as possible, wherever they live?

Do you have an umbrella?

Involve politicians? If so, how?

Broaden focus or keep it on Hen Harriers?

Posters in every village in the country?

Social media?

How to get the media interested again?

Celebrity endorsement?


Any ideas that you wish to keep private – please email mark@markavery.info and charlie.moores@birdersagainst.org


May I just point out that I am not ‘in charge’ of Hen Harrier Day (and nor is anyone else) so there could be a large number of events happening right across the country all of a slightly, or very, different character.  Co-ordination would be good, but can only be done between consenting adults.







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48 Replies to “Hen Harrier Day 2015 – thoughts?”

  1. Of that list I'd say it's most important to get the police involved. We need them to make arrests at some stage and to publicly remind those who illegally kill raptors they are criminals not 'guardians for the rest of us'.

  2. All good considerations however I would disagree with the police as most important at this time, work out what is wanted and needed and then involve legislative enforcement bodies. Hoping Buxton goes well and after last years HHD a good day can be had and support built for actively stopping these criminal acts.

  3. Raising awareness to the broader general public is important, so many events involving many people and organisations as well as politicians , but won't hey will all be on holiday-summer recess.!?

    1. Lorraine - yes, if you could organise either the shooters to change the start of th4e grouse shooting season, or Parliament to change their summer break, then it would be easier to involve politicians I agree!

  4. To show peoples support we could copy days like Remembrance Day or World AIDS day and come up with the Hen Harrier alternative of a poppy or a red ribbon. These could be sold to raise money. The RSPB produce a Hen Harrier pin badge but I think we could be more creative. Any ideas on what we could use?

  5. Although I would like a "Ban Driven Grouse Shooting Day", if we want to assemble as many people and as many organizations as possible (which I think we do) then maybe keep the focus on HH. It could only help to have the likes of RSPB involved, especially if they would agree to promote it. Raising awareness is key. There's a lot of people out there who would care if they knew.

    Politicians could be good. Caroline Lucas was inspiring at Rally for Nature and we know Barry Gardener's a good egg. Celebs likewise can only help raise the profile of the event.

    Looking forward to it already. 9th Aug is in the diary.

    1. Paul - thank you. I had a feeling you might keep the day free.

      Who knows which politicians will be doing what by 9 August?!

  6. How about seeing if Russell Brand is interested. Would certainly raise the profile (and some eyebrows) in the non-conservation press, and he seems to love fighting the corner of the persecuted. He also says he wants stronger environmental protection.

      1. It's not meant to be funny, it's meant as a genuine leftfield (no political pun intended) suggestion that might make people say 'Crikey, there's a thought.'. Whatever you think of the man's comedy or politics, someone like him would bring more publicity than any wildlife celebrity. If George Monbiot can describe him as one of the heroes of 2014, then why not consider it, or someone else who's not expected.

        1. I think 'left field' is a good idea. Maybe not Russell Brand, but an addition outside our normal range. Esther Rantzen? I've no idea whether anyone in that sort of territory could be engaged (or how many would in the end be genuinely good to have - we don't want our own 'Ian Botham') but it would alter the frame of reference. It would also help with the public recognition point: my friends and acquaintances are obviously non-random so I was disturbed by the frequency of the 'we'll sign up Alan but what's a hen harrier' sort of comment. Just to be frivolous (I can't help it) perhaps we should try to 'turn' Ian Botham and get him on side. But then again perhaps not.

          1. Alan - choice between Esther and Russell? Left field is quite a big field isn't it? thanks for your comment.

    1. Getting a few famous people on board is a sure way to raise the campaigns profile. My suggestion would be comedian Bill Bailey, very popular and a birder.

  7. Thanks for getting the ball rolling Mark. We (as in BAWC) have posted a few thoughts as well as we agreed - and if you'll permit me a link it's at https://www.facebook.com/BAWCUK/posts/322569954615958

    1. Charlie - thanks! It's good to be working so closely with you and others in BAWC on all of this.

  8. Could it be broader please? A campaign for wilder skies? If we could make people more aware of what is being lost and why, in their own landscapes as well as on the moors.

    I think people will understand the need to protect the Hen Harriers much more when they have learnt to value their own birds of prey. Owls and sparrowhawks and kestrels could start the journey, and the city peregrines and farmland buzzards carry it forward. It's quite hard to love something you've never seen, if you want more of the general public involved. Rarified can be a bit rarified, if you see what I mean. (but i was very pleased to be one of the sodden 570)

  9. I think we definitely need to broaden it to include the rest of the UK as well. There should be quite a few venues across the country in relevant areas, so that everyone has a chance to attend one without driving hundreds of miles, but not so many that the impact is lessened by having too few people at each one.

    Celebs and prominent naturalists should be included as much as possible to raise the profile and get the media interested again. Politicians should be badgered to take a stand and show people whether they care or not.

    And I personally would love to see a 'Ban driven grouse shooting in Scotland' petition at some point!

    1. Carrie - many thanks. Perhaps, particularly if you live north of the border, you could start one.

      1. Sadly I think it would have far more weight if it was started by someone from a conservation background! Maybe someone else will take up the challenge!

        Can I suggest a venue somewhere in the Cairngorm National Park? It's high time more people were led to question what place intensively managed grouse moors have in our National Parks, and this one is 44% managed moorland.

  10. Mark,you have been fantastic for Hen Harrier cause.
    Sorry to be negative but in my opinion if you broaden it out the Hen Harrier gets swamped and the cause lost.
    If RSPB get involved they will in my opinion take over and want to broaden it right out such as "Give Nature A Home",rather than them helping you it could well end up you more or less working on their behalf.

  11. Must comment on Kellan a WTE that has been found dead thought to be where he invaded a mature pairs territory on Mull.
    He was a very lucky WTE in some ways as he injured himself very seriously with a broken wing as a juvenile and a farmer found him but he had been injured a few days so was not good.Farmer informed Dave and he then took him home for the night and asked Scottish SPCA to come to Mull on ferry and pick him up.
    They took him to mainland and great vet operated and it is simply amazing what a great job he did as it was badly infected I understand,he did so well that after about 3 months he was taken back to Mull and released and has survived for 4 years.
    It is really a great credit to several people going to great lengths to help a injured bird.

  12. I think that we need to try a get to all the people who still don't even know about Hen Harriers and what is happening to them. Posters, guest blogs would help to raise awareness and post cards about Hen Harrier day inside magazines would help to tell people about the day as well.

    1. How about involving the Society of Wildlife Artists http://www.swla.co.uk/. They do a great job with their mural at Birdfair - maybe some of them would be willing to design cards for Lush to sell in their shops.

  13. Trying to answer all your questions/ queries Mark;
    Scotland, Wales, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Nat Trust, Nat. Park, involvement. I would suggest the involvement of all of thses.
    Police? just to a limited extent.
    Number of rallies? Enough so people dont have to travel too far, say 7/8 nation wide.
    Publicity? through posters, media etc.
    Umbrella? yes but mine has only recently dried from last August!!
    Politicians? yes perhaps a similar campaign as "Vote for Bob".
    Hen Harrier Day is best I think, don't complicate it.
    Yes, posters as much as possible.
    Social media, yes.
    Celebrities? yes

  14. There is a long lead in time and I would use this to keep up the momentum generated by last years events. Drip feeding stories in blogs, magazines and podcasts for example. Wasn't involved last year so don't know if HH Day has an fb page or is on twitter? If not perhaps it should? Then ramp up the campaign nearer the day and perhaps co-ordinate it so that those with media contacts can get in front of a microphone for a media blitz. And there needs to be a clear call to action that is easily communicated and has been agreed by people so that everyone is delivering the same message (differences will be pounced upon by the media). Celebs are a double-edged sword. Donald suggested Mr Brand which would certainly get column inches but he is a loose cannon so not sure you could keep him on message plus he would alienate lots of potential supporters.

    There needs to be some central co-ordination so that people know whats going on and Press can be used appropriately. Could some of the NGO's provide support, even if its support-in-kind? A good campaign co-ordinator perhaps or a press officer?

    Oh and Happy New Year Mark!

  15. Could you get people to recreate an image of a hen harrier in umbrellas and have one switched out of the normal grey colour with red ? If you can get an image from above could use it for tshirts / Twitter profiles.

  16. HI Mark

    there is almost certainly also a problem with Montys harriers in the east of England for the same reasons, so how about its a harriers day - being able to broaden it to the east of England would make the 9th August more targetable for way more birders (being a Derbyshire lass in permanent exile in east Anglia I feel that would be a great way to engage more people, probably several of whom know about HHDay 2014, 2015 already but just cannot face a trip to the north of the country for work/family or other reasons)
    I favour the lots of events to reach people, and the effectiveness of social media are undeibale these days - most of the people I facebook regularly are older than I am!
    I agree that co-ordination is the hardest part, without having a small pot of funding to enable someone to co-ordinate these things at a very low-impact level, so everyone's event still feel like their event.

  17. Please let's not link the day with the Nature & Wellbeing Act and its Natural Capital Controversy. Please could we meet because we respect these incredible creatures and want to demonstrate our desire to save them (and all the other key non-financial values), in the face of a shooting industry entrenched in making money. Thank you. 🙂

  18. Hen Harrier and Hen Harrier day day has so much momentum now, diluting it would be a mistake and make it easier for the opposition to defend their position. The hen Harrier argument is won and understood by all so let's build on the foundation already laid by Mark and others in 2014

  19. A bit late to reply to this but I think we have Winter Watch coming up [not this week as far as I know] but in January. Perhaps Chris P could give the issue and date a plug - as sure if they are at Minsmere there will be plenty of raptors on the programme.

    1. Great idea Stella but doubt Auntie Beeb would let him. A bit too controversial for them.

      1. Would controversy stop Chris P though? I think he is a very vocal and brave ambassador for all wildlife and if it gets more people entering the discussion and understanding the plight of HH worth a try.

  20. Organise mass protest at blackspots such as Ross-shire in Scotland where the slaughter of 22 raptors in one year occurred which I believe was concluded unsatisfactorily.

    Lest we forget those 22 wasted creatures the sight of their beautiful sillouettes in the sky no longer, no blame, no feeling, no guilt but it's possible the suspect was wearing a kilt. How sad this wasteful wickedness is the case, a slaughter of innocence for the sake of a brace. Now we know you used a toxic potion which is exactly why you've caused such a commotion, so long as you play with this toxic crap I hope one day that you'll fall into your own trap. Lest we forget......Never!

  21. It will work better and have a chance of spreading if it is "people-based" through a network of local organisations, and not fronted hierarchically by the same well-known faces, individuals and the usual organisations. Interviews with indignant and angry members of the public are much more more arresting and viewable than the well-chosen words of the people who front our conservation movement - who need to ensure they keep their jobs and income streams...

    By all means have it sponsored by the usual suspects and have it feature all the usual suspects in the all publicity photographs. But if it does, then expect the same results: A bit of newspaper/online coverage as the media go through the motions, and then in a few days it's history and we're back to normal service. A bit like Bono, Geldof, Sting and Band Aid.


  22. Do any of you have a rich friend with a cessna and a nice big banner to trail behind on the day? I'm sure that would open some eyes.

  23. Bit late with my comment, but how about trying to get somebody in each tetrad, at the same time, that should be occupied by a hen harrier. They could be holding a copy of the Hen Harrier Day banner and the tetrad number. Trying to get all the tetrads occupied and photographed and then posted on a website.
    Has the advantage of involving as many people as possible from across the country.
    You could also have a series of main events, but maybe try and link them somehow.

  24. Hi Mark, how about schools joining HH day, I know a school in Bowland has been engaged with Skydancer and even named the ill fated Sky. HH day won't be in term time but do you think it would be good idea if I call some schools local to grouse moors and let them know background details and point them towards your blog and BAWC for more info as it unfolds.


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