The Hen Harrier came a glorious ninth in the poll for our national bird – left fluttering in the wake of the Robin and a host of other species, but edging ahead of the Puffin (which must be gutted!). It’s enough to set us all off on a sky-dance!
It was remarkable that the Hen Harrier got into the last ten – and even more remarkable that it came ninth! Thank you to all who voted for the most persecuted bird in the UK.
As I think I said at the BAWC Conference in March, there are a few people who love Hen Harriers (including many birders) and a few who seem to hate the bird (I’ve never met a gamekeeper who had a crush on the Hen Harrier). Just for the purposes of conversation let’s say that there are about 5% in each camp, that leaves about 90% of people, normal people, in the middle – and that 90% doesn’t have a clue what a Hen Harrier is.
The more that Hen Harriers ‘disappear’ from the Forest of Bowland or Geltsdale (see here, here, here for media coverage in last week); the more cases like Bowland Betty (see here too), Sky and Hope there are; the more places Henry is photographed; the more people read Inglorious; the more mentions there are of Hen Harriers on BBC Springwatch (Jeremy Deller‘s artwork on Tuesday and Iolo’s mention of them being persecuted in England yesterday evening); and the more that Hen Harriers crop up in people’s lives like in the vote for the national bird, then the smaller the 90% will become. The annual Hen Harrier Day events will also spread the word just ahead of the opening of the inglorious grouse shooting season. The people who don’t know about the Hen Harrier will still be a large percentage of the population for quite a while, but their number will keep on shrinking.
And which way will those people go? To the ‘lovers of Hen Harriers’ end, or the ‘haters of Hen Harriers’ end? There is no doubt in my mind that they will mostly mass with us and our 5% will grow and grow until it vastly outnumbers those misguided folk at the other end of the spectrum. Progress is being made all the time and the readers of this blog are playing a large part in that.
We need to spread the word, and the word is spreading. So thank you to all who voted for the Hen Harrier – you have all made a bit of a difference, but your work is not yet finished. There’s a long way to go yet. And I think there may be another mention of Hen Harriers on the last Springwatch of the series this evening.
Keep in touch with Hen Harrier Day events through this website.