Natural England says something, again, about Hen Harriers

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.

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10 Replies to “Natural England says something, again, about Hen Harriers”

  1. There must be some way of complaining about UK Gov/Natural England/ United Utilities not meeting EU Habitats Directive re Bowland Fells SPA which has hen harriers as designating factor

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    1. Yep, you'd think someone might make a complaint about the failure of the government to take appropriate steps to avoid deterioration or disturbance to this and other SPAs under Article 6(2) of the Habitats Directive.

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    2. Why would one cite United Utilities when it is quite clear that they are one of the good guys and that far from being part of the problem without them and their co-operation there would be no harriers in Bowland.
      It is clearly stated in the publicity about the failed nests that the males disappeared when away from the nests on other estates. So if you must include landowners ( I would not as it is a UK gov't responsibility) it is those other landowners that should be cited.

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  2. Just out of interest, is it possible to eavesdrop on the signal emitted by satellite tags - I don't mean can the Russians do so with their satellites, I mean someone on the ground with a receiver and ill intent?

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    1. Steve - it's a good question and i asked it a while ago. I got a not very definite 'don't think so'!

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  3. In reality how many will be tagged? Unless NE have deep pockets I suspect it won't be many.

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    1. Gongfarmer - RSPB doing it too. And private money available as well. It's one of the ways forward.

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      1. I wonder if Botham could sponsor some tags given he's now a conservationist and cares so much about our native birds.

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    2. It won't be any if the untagged adults keep vanishing before their broods get a chance to hatch. [To which I hear Philip mutter 'that's why we need to remove their broods, you cretin']

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  4. I don't really see the point of NE continually tagging the birds unless they start doing more with the data, following up the 'disappearances' and more widely publishing the results - it is very difficult to find much in the public domain on the Natural England satellite tagging work (isn't it funded by my taxes?) (and apologies to NE if I missed the publication of all the recent data - please point me in the right direction).

    Wouldn't it be a good idea if NE, RSPB and other partners who are tagging these birds, pool all their data and do a comprehensive analysis of all the data - it might show some interesting, but not unexpected results.

    Trying to think if this is the first species in my lifetime that the Statutory Conservation Agency will have been monitored to extirpation in England?

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