Travels and round-up

Somewhere in Durham, but nearly in N'Land
Somewhere in Durham, but nearly in N’land

I’ve been travelling around since Monday and I got back late last night – so this is just a few notes on my travels and a few catch-ups:

  • On the Durham moors near the signpost above, there were very few waders to be heard, which surprised me, as I am always careful to point out that grouse moors often have impressive numbers of breeding waders. However, to be fair, there was a Golden Plover cheekily standing on a grouse butt by the road.
  • the number of comments, which I think are all objections, to the retrospective planning application for a track on Midhope Moor has risen from c30 to over 160 largely thanks to readers of this blog  (you are wonderful!). And the period for public consultation has been extended to 27 May. We’ll see!
  • Scotland seems to be full of Cuckoos although I didn’t hear any on the moors of northern England.
  • have a look at how the Catfield Fen enquiry has ended here.
  • I saw a lovely male Hen Harrier when I stopped briefly to scan the moors at Langholm – aren’t they brilliant birds?!


Kerry McCarthy MP - one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people making plans for Hen Harrier Day (s) events.
Kerry McCarthy MP – one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people making plans for Hen Harrier Day (s) events.
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10 Replies to “Travels and round-up”

  1. Mark, just seen this in today's Guardian Environment blog. I've got to go but hope others will get a riposte in soon.

    2h ago
    1 2

    One of the most beautiful of upland birds, now threatened by the campaign to ban driven grouse shooting.

    We know exactly what happens to ground nesting bird populations once game keepers are laid off:

    1. My response to Monrover's latest comment in today's Guardian blog:

      3m ago
      0 1

      ‘’But none of that will change the entrenched views of the 'ban all shooting' brigade, because they do not care about conservation, only about themselves,…’’

      I think you mean the ‘ban driven grouse shooting’ (BDGS) campaigners.

      BDGS is definitely not against ‘all shooting’. But it is against the constant crime of killing top predators such as Hen Harriers in order to ensure the profitability of unnaturally high numbers of Red Grouse. These are then driven towards the waiting guns who pay huge money for the pleasure of blasting this game bird out of the sky. More grouse, more guns, more profit.

      There is, however, a sporting alternative called ‘walked up grouse shooting’ which requires the hunter to trek over rough ground and have the quickness of reflex and aim to bag his quarry. In no way is the BDGS campaign against this type of activity.

      You are wrong when you assert that the BDGS ‘brigade’ is against conservation.

      As for ‘their political agenda, and their own stipends from gullible high net worth individuals’ … I really don’t understand what you are saying here. Perhaps you will have a moment to explain.


    2. There are good counter-arguments in support of BDGS by David Kelly and Olcan85 in the Guardian's country diary blog, !2 May. It's still going:

  2. I felt that Martin gave a fair defence of the RSPB's position. Whether or not one agrees with it as the way forward, I think his arguments at least deserve respectful consideration. It is probably true, for example, that in terms of legal workability a licensing scheme for grouse moors has at least some advantages over a ban on DGS.
    Whilst I am more than happy to accept Martin's insistence that the RSPB is committed to fighting raptor persecution and other environmental damage done by shooting interests (and often courageous in doing so) I think there are nevertheless some real questions over its strategy.
    I am very unclear about what the RSPB feels it has got out of the Hen Harrier Action Plan. It seems to me that in exchange for some things which are or should be happening anyway (monitoring, nest and roost protection, intelligence sharing) it has had to swallow a massive concession in the form of brood management. The only concession on the grouse shooting side is commitment to wider use of diversionary feeding. The plan has no teeth and there are no penalties for the shooting community if hen harriers continue to be killed. In contrast the plan allows a precedent to be established for the notion that there can be "too many" hen harriers on a moor and acceptance that they should be removed by fair means or foul! Meanwhile the Moorland Association and their allies can claim kudos in front of ministers already well disposed toward them for backing a plan which costs them very little and makes little obvious beneficial difference to the plight of the Hen Harrier
    With respect to licensing: if the RSPB believes that to be the way forward why are they not being more vociferous about it?

  3. Hi Mark, you obviously missed the oyster catcher sitting on eggs down by the burn, visible from the road just a few hundred yards past the sign on your photo? I wonder how many other things you've drove past with out seeing? Or is it you don't won't to see them in them areas?

    1. Dan - thank you for your comment. Plenty of Oiks and Lapwing off the moors. Did I miss a bird? Crikey - never happened before. Did I miss flocks of Hen Harriers too?

      1. That's what happens when you drive carefully Dan - off road on top notch infrastructure tracks funded through public subsidies, in a chauffeured 4x4 & I'm sure Mark would have spotted it:)

        Mark, perhaps they've collected the flock of decoy Hen Harriers so no one spots gun toting camoman lurking?

    2. Round these parts the sudden and prolonged snow cover caught most of the ground nesters..... still hoping that they might try again.

  4. Ref.: Retrospective planning application Midhope Moor:

    SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE: Fri 13 May 2016 Documents on this website will be unavailable on the afternoon of Friday 13 May as the software that runs the website is being updated. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

    Maybe the system has been flooded by concerns, let's hope it recovers quickly?

  5. A cuckoo in the forest of bowland today if that helps plus peewits plus I thought maybe a peregrine but I could be wrong about that one


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