For new readers, Hen Harrier Day is a celebration of this marvellous bird to highlight the fact that its numbers are severely reduced by criminal activity by grouse shooting interests. Hen Harriers are unsporting enough to eat Red Grouse that ‘sporting folk’ wish to shoot for fun. Killing a Hen Harrier has been illegal since 1954 but it still goes on to such an extent that Hen Harriers are almost absent from UK grouse moors which ought to be hosting hundreds of pairs. The UK Hen Harrier population is c650 pairs (almost all of which live away from grouse shooting areas) whereas it ought to be c2600 pairs according to the science (see Chapter 1 of Inglorious for many more details).
Hen Harrier Day events have been held in England and Scotland for the last two years, with growing numbers of events, and growing numbers of attendees.
This year there will be several events as usual (see here for details as they emerge) but probably the biggest of them all is likely to be at Rainham Marshes RSPB nature reserve within easy reach by public transport of central and east London, Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Cambridgeshire and beyond. It’s going to be massive! Well it will if you come.
Chris Packham will be attending, and this year it is the only Hen Harrier Day event he can make so you can only catch him here.
A six foot Hen Harrier will also be present.
There will be speeches, camaraderie and this is your chance to voice your opposition to protected birds of prey being killed in the UK uplands and elsewhere. And if you live in or near London you don’t have so far to travel this year – thanks to the RSPB Rainham Marshes team we are bringing Hen Harrier Day to you.
I will say this only scores of times – parking is limited and the event is likely to be very well attended – please come by public transport if you possibly can (and it is quite easy – I’ve done it many times myself). If you have to bring a car, then please fill it up with friends!
Further details of the event will appear on this blog, on the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website and on the Rainham Marshes RSPB page. But you can start making your travel plans, start making your banners and placards, and start looking forward to sending a strong message to the criminal elements in the grouse shooting industry that they cannot keep breaking the law.