In a statement on the parlous GOV.UK website, Natural England commented on the loss of a fifth male Hen Harrier from an English nest this summer.
Rob Cooke, Natural England’s Director of Terrestrial Biodiversity said:
The sudden loss of so many birds is of great concern and something that England’s fragile breeding hen harrier population may struggle to withstand. We are now pinning our hopes on the remaining handful of birds that still have active nests in northern England and are working closely with landowners and other conservation bodies to help ensure that they are successful. We will fit the latest high-tech satellite tags to any young, so that we can monitor their progress once they have left the nest.
That’s about as close as NE can get to saying, ‘Someone must be bumping them off’.
It’s not a nice way to treat the nation’s ninth favourite bird is it?
Just a thought, and one from Inglorious, Hen Harriers move around so much that it isn’t necessary to satellite tag English birds in order to find out more about them. A few Welsh birds would be well worth tagging too. Some of them would end up in northern England eventually – see where Bowland Betty went on her travels – and some would do pretty well in Wales providing a useful comparison with the ‘disappearances’ of English birds. Building up the picture would be useful and isn’t dependent on English birds rearing young. Just a thought.