Photo: Gordon Yates
Photo: Gordon Yates

Today we should hear news about the status of Hen Harriers in England in the first year of the Defra Hen Harrier recovery project. See here for the only real Hen Harrier recovery plan.

There should be 330+ pairs of Hen Harrier nesting in the English uplands and last year there were 12 pairs (from which five males ‘mysteriously”disappeared’).

If the Defra plan, welcomed by the RSPB, is everything it is cracked up to be then today should be a time for rejoicing and celebration as the heel of the grouse shooter is taken off the throat of the English Hen Harrier population and it is allowed to breathe easily and freely in the sunlit uplands once more.

Well, we’ll see.

The omens are not good.

When a man was filmed taking his model Hen Harrier for a walk on a Peak District National Park grouse moor the Moorland Association couldn’t see anything wrong with this.

When a Goshawk nest on an RSPB nature reserve, failed rather inexplicably on the edge of Peak District moorland the Moorland Association couldn’t bring itself to comment.

When a gamekeeper was given a caution for committing an act that has been criminal for over a century on a grouse moor the Moorland Association was oh so understanding and forgiving of the estate where this happened (which happens to be a member of the Moorland Association).

And Red Kites have been tumbling out of the air in and near Yorkshire grouse moors this spring (see here and here).

This is some of the background to the RSPB statement today.

This Hen Harrier is looking to the RSPB for a strong approach to these issues of wildlife crime against protected birds.

Photo: Gordon Yates
Photo: Gordon Yates



12 Replies to “Intransigence”

  1. I for one, and I suspect there are many others, will be very surprised by anything positive from the news about the status of the Hen Harrier today. The comments appearing from such upright organisations as the Moorland Association, regarding recent atrocities committed against our raptors, is perhaps an indicator that all is not well in our uplands. #DeedsbytheTweeds has ensured raptors are being kept at a distance from grouse moors and today should give us an opportunity to assess where we go from here.

  2. The news expected from the Forest of Bowland this season is likely to be very grim indeed, however we did learn from a Bowland raptor worker the RSPB had a contingency plan this year to deal with a decline of hen harrier numbers in the region.

    The North West Raptor Group have already stated group members only managed to locate a single occupied peregrine territory in Bowland positioned on the United Utilities estate this season. It now appears tragedy struck this last site after an unnamed individual was observed entering the territory on Thursday evening 21 April at 5pm, leaving the site after spending 2 hours at the nesting site. We received a report the individual using a mountain bicycle may have been sent to the territory to install a surveillance camera overlooking the nest for some reason.

    A spokesperson working for the RSPB told a birder several days after the nest intruder had been spotted entering and leaving the site that the nest had failed; no reason for the unexplained failure has so far been provided by the RSPB. Perhaps detail of this reported failure will be included in the RSPB statement?

  3. Well, its shaping up to be a great season, isn’t it ? What are the chances in this year of the Hen Harrier plan that there’ll be even fewer Hen harriers than last year ?

    At least it’ll make life easy for the ditherers – there won’t be the complication of what to do about a modest recovery – even the National Trust may have to act.

    And surely the ‘we didn’t know’ estate defence is wearing a little thin – if you suggested on any other subject that they didn’t have a clue what was going on on their land they would be outraged.

  4. There is probably only one way to save our wildlife in this respect and that is to work towards making all hunting for pleasure ie sport illegal, there is something morally corrupt about killing one species so you can enjoy killing another.

    1. Exactly, Kennerth.

      It is deplorable that the RSPB can’t by its constitution take an ethical position on the killing of birds, rather than trying to be all things to all people – and failing the hen harriers in the process.

    1. Mrs B sort of insisted we watch it…Stomach churning!

      Where was the question “When do you suppose you’ll be able to show white-tailed eagles to visitors ?”

      I’d voluntarily watch the programme then!

    2. That segment managed to be even more rage inducing than the interviews with CamerWomble. Notice how the presenter struggled to see anything except non-managed wildlife and that they even threw in some promotion of mountain hare culls? It is the sheer frustration in not being able to challenge these assholes on level footing that makes me so angry. At some point we are going to have to start being more militant about confronting them and go for direct action. It is going to be th only way.

    3. Yes, and specifically a grouse shooting estate. We heard all about what an excellent naturalist the gamekeeper is and how it ‘warms his cockles’ to be encouraging wildlife to thrive that is rare elsewhere but not a hint that there is any controversy about the role of estate management in the decline of birds of prey. An uninformed viewed would have taken away the impression that shooting estates are an unalloyed blessing to wildlife.

  5. Mark wrote
    ‘And Red Kites have been tumbling out of the air in and near Yorkshire grouse moors this spring’
    There have been 8 Red Kites killed this spring in Yorkshire (thanks to Ollie’s Birdwatching Blog for the YP article). The article in the Yorkshire Post says 7 but there appear to be 8. Bramhope is nr. Arthington but one was poisoned and the other shot so 2 separate incidents.

    March 2016 Low Marishes, Malton

    23rd April 2016 on farmland near Nidd

    21st April 2016, a new red kite nest was discovered in woodland near Alwoodley Lane in the Eccup area of Leeds

    Sunday 22 May, Hall Lane, Blubberhouses

    The bodies of the three suspected poisoned birds, two of whom were found at Pateley Bridge and the other at Arthington, are being examined by the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme to determine the type and quantity of poison used.
    Outside North Yorkshire, … a bird found in Bramhope whose injuries were consistent with a puncture wound across its chest due to being shot with a rifle.

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