Yesterday in London in pictures (and some words)


Yesterday I went on a march in London with lots of other people protesting against driven grouse shooting, the badger cull and any chance that fox hunting should be reinstated.  And I said a brief few words and listened to a range of passionate speakers such as Chris Packham, Peter Egan, Natalie Bennett, Dominic Dyer and Will Travers.  It was a good day.

There were lots of familiar faces in the crowd – people who have come to Hen Harrier Day events, people who will be at the Bird Fair next weekend and people who work in nature conservation.  But how many people were there?

Tim Bonner says on Twitter that he was told that there were 380 people at this march – well that’s about as accurate as most Countryside Alliance ‘facts’!  In my article in the Observer today I said thousands, but that was a guess as the piece was written between getting home from Scotland at 930pm on Friday and leaving for London at 930am on Saturday.

I actually counted people leaving Cavendish Square and got a total of 625 – but there were far more than that taking part by the end of the march. In fact, walking down Regent St before we got to Oxford Circus there were lots of people behind me who I certainly hadn’t counted earlier and more joined en route. When we got to Downing Street there were a lot of people I knew who hadn’t been in Cavendish Square at the start, and some had baled out along the way (going shopping?). I notice that there were also people present that I knew who posted on social media that I hadn’t even seen on the day – I think we would have bumped into each other in a crowd of 380, thanks Tim. So it certainly wasn’t 380, and it wasn’t many thousands, but it was at least a thousand and maybe more. Let’s call it over a thousand.

But it was an interesting experience and an inspiring event. I’m pretty sure that there were people in that crowd of over a thousand who think that I am far too reasonable and understanding about all forms of shooting, and there were things said by others that made me wince a bit, but I don’t want a return of Fox hunting, I don’t agree that the Badger cull is necessary or useful in its current form and I do want a ban on driven grouse shooting (and intend to see it happen).  If Tim Bonner had turned up in person then we would all have booed him together!

I talked to a couple who were passing through Cavendish Square on their way to a wedding but who saw the Hen Harrier banners and T-shirts who told me, with delight, about seeing six Hen Harriers on Orkney on their recent holiday.  They knew about grouse shooters killing Hen Harriers and they didn’t like grouse shooting as a result.

And then there was a couple from Yorkshire who had read Inglorious and had been motivated to come to their first Hen Harrier Day in Sheffield a week ago, and from that event had been further motivated to come down to London for the day. That is how it works – spread the word.

Let’s imagine that 2% of the UK population has heard of a Hen Harrier (that may be an overestimate!).  And let’s imagine (though it won’t be true) that half of them hate Hen Harriers and half of them love them. Then go and talk to 1000 people who are unaware – maybe 950 still aren’t interested in the issue but, of the other 50, you can’t tell me that they are going to join the grouse shooters as being covertly in favour of killing Hen Harriers. No, most of them will recruit to the cause of the Hen Harrier, or nature conservation and environmental sustainability, and our numbers will grow.

We have a message of hope, and we have a message that is true – and our numbers will grow, and we will win!

Yesterday felt like an animal welfare/animal rights march and I was a bit nervous that the Hen Harrier message would be swamped – but it wasn’t. On the day, the number of Hen Harrier T-shirts, placards and banners was roughly equal with those who were more focussed on Badgers or Foxes.  And there were plenty of people with a persecuted bird on one side of their banner and a persecuted mammal on the other!

I met one RSPB staff member at the march although, of course, neither the RSPB nor the Wildlife Trusts promoted this march. I can understand that – when I was working for the RSPB I would have wondered whether it would be populated with violent anarchists and maybe there were some (it’s so difficult to tell by looking) but they weren’t being anarchic or violent yesterday and I really do know that there were plenty of RSPB and Wildlife Trust members in that crowd, including committed volunteers and supporters. There were also plenty of former members and supporters and a lot of potential supporters.

My concern about the approach of the mainstream nature conservation organisations is that there is a great danger that they spend more time talking to supporters of Tim Bonner’s nasty Countryside Alliance with whom they share little in common than they do with other animal interest groups where the starting points are different but the journey is more similar.

Would you rather that conservation organisations reached an agreement with the Countryside Alliance or the League Against Cruel Sports? And how likely do you think progress is with each? The answer ought to determine the effort spent in discussion.  Read my article, Our Friends the ‘Antis’?, in the issue of British Wildlife dropping through your door at the end of this week.

Thanks to all the friends, new and existing, with whom I marched, chanted and chatted yesterday.  We should do it again, soon.

And, of course, thanks to the organisers who made it happen and the speakers (and I would say especially Chris Packham) who made it a great day.

And thanks to the police who were lovely, and even clapped the speakers on occasions – was that particularly when we mentioned wildlife crime on grouse moors?






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  1. Lyn Ebbs says:

    My guess is that the crowd was about 2000. (Based on information that we were about 500 at Rainham's Hen Harrier Day and estimating that about 4x that number were on the march.

  2. If you ever needed any proof that shooting was guilty of persecuting our raptors (and all other wildlife) I shall recall a comment from a Grouse shooter yesterday after we disrupted their idea of fun.

    Looking up at the skies I said to a friend, "There should be Hen Harriers here".

    The shooter overhearing my comment replies with a sadistic grin, "You won't seen any, we've shot them all".

    Incidentally I didn't see a single Curlew or Lapwing either. Just Grouse, lots and lots of Grouse.

  3. Peter Shearer says:

    People trying to dismiss the cause because of the numbers underestimate the number of us that were with you in spirit but cannot easily get to London. I would not worry too much as being dismissed seems to be a recipe for success these days, so we are well on our way!

  4. Andy says:

    Well done mark.It sounds like it was a great day.

  5. Jan says:

    Hi Mark
    Great to briefly meet you yesterday. Typically, after having so many things to ask and chat about rolling around in my head on the journey down to London, I couldn't get Any of it to actually come out of my mouth so apologies for the awkwardness there. My daughter finds me so embarrassing ! I enjoyed all the talks and speeches given. Although Dom Dyer did at one point resemble a Dalek shouting passionately/violently oppopposite Downing St. I was very moved actually, on listening to people speak. I have been a supporter and in my youth, a non-violent activist for animal rights campaigns so I was very pleased that the Hunt Sabs Assoc LACS and HIT were given their rightful opportunity to speak at this event. It is true that without these people and their front liners keeping the faith, (and risking their day jobs in some cases) physically interrupting wildlife crime as it happens, the larger registered and funded orgs wouldn't have as much knowledge to act on. I will continue to support them till I'm older(er) and grey(er)... The other Brilliant thing about yesterday, is that my daughter, despite cringing and clearing off to her room on the "God why is it so Cheesy?" introductions on Springwatch, is now even more inspired than ever to help end wildlife crime and persecution.
    In all, it was a good day. Headcounts don't really matter. We know we have reach and with that, hope. We Will Win.

  6. Jim Welford says:

    I had a chat with one of the police liaison officers twoards the end. He said they were very pleased with how it had gone and the good nature of people attending. Quite a few of them were trying to listen to the speeches and applauding.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by the reception of those who'd had a small part of their day disrupted by the march, many stopping to applaud, hopefully many others will go home and look on the internet to see what it was about.

  7. John Ranson says:

    I'd say you were in the right place Mark. When it comes down to it, recognising who the like-minded folk are is not that difficult. Sorry I couldn't get there in the end, but definitely among the many thousands there in spirit. 🙂

  8. Al Woodcock says:

    Tim Bonner and his associates keep trying to play down the numbers, but if only 300 had turned up at each HH Day, you can call that 3000 alone, with the 10 events that took place. Then there's the 11 million who put their names to the Thunderclap, and don't forget the 126000 of us who signed your petition last year, Mark. I think the numbers are rising in our favour all the time.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. giles bradshaw says:

    did you feel disappointed when you got got thousands less than you hoped you hoped for? I wonder what it is about the supposed minority that support country sports that enabled them to get hundreds of thousands out? Maybe there's more to it than opinion polls and online petitions - maybe it's a matter of how much people actually care.

    • Mark says:

      giles - who said there were thousands less than 'I' (if by 'you' you mean me) expected? You seem to have made that up. I did feel a little disappointed, but not gutted, not very disappointed, only a smidgeon disappointed that there weren't a few more people there. But the numbers certainly swelled a lot on the actual march after leaving Cavendish Square.

      • giles bradshaw says:

        Hi Mark technically you are correct after all 'thousands' is a pretty vague term - how many thousands were you expecting?

        I'm glad you had a good time and it's good to be out and about and not campaigning on the internet all the time.

        As for who it's best to talk to - I'd say everybody - also I think individuals talking from different back grounds is a boon. I went to an animal welfare conference last year at which both the CA and LACS were. Everybody seemed to get on fine - and we got a bit merry together afterwards. When you talk to people individually (+ maybe after a few vinos) it can be quite productive. Robbie Macdonald (I think that was his name) from the scottish LACS (ex IFAW) was a pretty nice chap. He was very receptive about the use of dogs to manage wild deer when I explained it to him.

        Many minds are generally better than one and it's good to have different perspectives.

        There's another reason why it's important to talk to landowners - like it or not they own and manage the land - so it's pretty important to communicate with them about the environmental impact of what they do.

        • Mark says:

          giles - thank you. I've deleted your other comments because,as you say here, I was correct.

          There was no error. Thank you.

          • giles bradshaw says:

            What are you like mark?????

            I've said that you are correct when you say there may not have been thousands less than you thought.

            And now you've deleted my comments about the probably erroneous and definite unverified information that you included in your article.

            That is plainly dishonest. Not only do you delete what I say because you can't deny it but then you misrepresent what I am saying.

            That is dishonest.

          • Mark says:

            giles - if only you were a bit clearer and more succinct and didn't spray your comments around like a fine mist to obscure your point and weren't such a clown - then it would be easier to see what you meant. And btw - your comments appear here simply as a list all addressed 'to Mark' not under anything that I have said so it is a bit difficult. I'll go back and try to find a comment which sums up your argument - they aren't deleted for ever (I value them tooooooo much)

          • giles bradshaw says:

            Hi Mark - sorry about sprayed comments - nothing wrong with being a bit of a clown though - I'm sure a bit of humour is ok isn't it?

            What I am saying is ...

            Mark writes - yes giles, so you said

    • J.Coogan says:

      Had a bit to much Claret here I fear Giles!

  10. Kevin says:

    It's all very easy to sign the online petitions concerning fox hunting, the badger cull and the persecution of hen harriers through the click of a button but wanted to do something more tangible. Saw the email about the march in London and immediately thought, yes I'm going to that.
    It was a great day, the speakers spoke very passionately and it was quite an emotional experience. It felt good to be amongst like minded people.

  11. Joan Thompson says:

    Not having made a banner nor possessing hen harrier T shirt ( would have bought two at Rainham but none on sale ) I suddenly saw EU flag on table & thought that would represent extra protection Moors had under EU clipped with hen harrier Rainham badge.
    Remembering also words my Tory MP said raising awareness key. Afterwards 2 tweets later first 1 like & other using EU angle retweeted 8 times with people having 16000+ followers between them so perhaps some of them might know about hen harriers as that tweet will be reused by me again to raise awareness.

    First time I have been on London against animal cruelty rally & found it interesting talking a policeman & another from badger side who knew little about hen harrier persecution so all in all fascinating day

  12. AlanTwo says:

    I found it a thoroughly uplifting day, and I'd agree with Lyn Ebbs' estimate of the turnout (again based on comparison with Rainham the week before). People just seemed to materialise late in the day.
    There were two highlights for me - firstly the response from the passers-by, the shoppers, drivers and visitors on the open-topped tourist busses. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the speakers. Lots of things were said that were new to me, and which maybe warrant some follow-up. For example, it was said that there had been disruption on grouse moors yesterday, and that shooting had been abandoned on two as a result (including the famous Moscar estate?). It would be good to know more about this.
    It was also said that there would be a protest at the upcoming National Trust AGM
    in Swindon. Someone said that people joining the NT soon would not be allowed to vote at the AGM, then someone else said that they would be able to. Does anyone, perhaps existing NT members, know which is correct? This might be a way of making the NT think twice about recreational killing on their considerable land holding.
    Overall, I got the impression that I was among people who wanted to get things done, if necessary in a more direct way that the average HH supporter. And I think that was encouraging...

  13. giles bradshaw says:

    Mark I've just read the article in the Observer - are you really acknowledging that you wrote that before the march? If so surely you would have to admit that your claim was fabricated. How can you write an article referring to a march in the past tense and giving numbers that went on the march before it had even happened?

  14. giles bradshaw says:

    I've written to the Guardian - I hope you don't mind but I do think it's important not to mislead the public.

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I wish to complain about the following article that appeared on your website

    this article refers to a protest march in the past tense and claims that thousands of people attended.

    It’s author Dr Mark Avery has acknowledged on his blog that this claim was actually a ‘guess’ and that the article was actually written before the march even began. He know estimates the number at around a thousand although he says he counted 625.

    Dr Avery’s blog is here:

    The claim in the article is clearly misleading. In my opinion including made up numbers does not conform to the high standards of truth we should expect from a newspaper such as the Guardian.

    The article breeches your editorial code of conduct because it contains an Error.

    You also state that articles should be verified. I do not believe you can have verified this article as it was written about a future event (although in the past tense) and it’s writer has admitted it contains guessed figures about something that had not yet happened.

    It also breeches the editorial code’s standard of Accuracy - the guessed number given in the article has been acknowledged as inaccurate.

    I am copying Dr Avery - I believe he is basically a decent person and should be given credit of admitting publicly that he guessed the information included in the article and feel sure he too would welcome it’s correction.

    best wishes

    Giles Bradshaw
    Rose Ash
    Devon EX36 4PP

    01769 550201

    • Mark says:

      giles - I hope you are having a lovely weekend.

      And I'm glad that you appear to agree with the rest of the content of the piece.

      If I had seriously thought that the figure was definitely wrong, then I could, and would, have emailed the Observer with a HOLD THE PRESSES email to correct it. As lots of people were talking about thousands being on the march then I certainly didn't do that. I've been told by many people that there were in the region of 2000 people attending - so the piece did not contain an error but thank you for your concern.

      I am now going to 'fabricate' the suggestion that you will reply to this comment of mine.

      • giles bradshaw says:

        In the region of - so even if we accept your latest revised estimate there's around a 50% chance that the article contained an error.

        However let's be honest Mark - the numbers at demonstrations is almost always over estimated by those in attendance.

        • Mark says:

          giles - you are getting overexcited.

          There was no error, unless you regard my underestimating the number of people there as an error - in which case your point about overestimating numbers doesn't apply to me.

          This thread is probably at an end as you are wasting my time. But you don't disagree with the article otherwise, I gather If you do, then please comment on the Observer/Guardian website.

      • giles bradshaw says:

        "was definitely wrong" - it's not a matter of it definitely being wrong - have you even read the editorial code? You are meant to only include information which is verified. How did you verify it - you said it was a guess. Lyn above is also guessing.

        • Mark says:

          giles - there was not an error.

          the editorial code applies to Guardian/Observer journalists and is not about opinion pieces such as this. You did read the code did you?

          • giles bradshaw says:

            From what I understand

            Mark writes - yes giles, so you have said.

          • giles bradshaw says:

            and now it's an 'opinion piece' so you were expressing an opinion about numbers using the past tense about an event that had not actually happened. Are you really suggesting it was your honest opinion that there had been thousands of people at a march that had not yet actually happened?

          • Mark says:

            giles - you are looking like a bit of a prat here.

            Yes it was my honest opinion that there would be thousands of people at an event - and there were!

          • giles bradshaw says:

            Oh right ...

            Mark writes: goodnight, you're simply repeating yourself.

  15. Corinna says:

    I tweeted as much & as often as I could to promote the march knowing I was going to be elsewhere. Important that the march happened on the Inglorious 12th -glad so many did make it - its August and many will be on holiday. We were there with you all in spirit - good to see many with Hen Harrier posters particularly after a splendid turn out for our HenHarrier w/e. #WeWillWin

  16. Deborah says:

    Thanks to all you guys who went on the march.............a great cause.........wish I could have been there! I used to go to all the animal rights marches in the 80's with my parents, until we moved North. Now, we live near where hen harriers can be seen, so feel very lucky. We also see buzzards frequently and its a pleasure to hear their cries, and spot them soaring high above in the blue sky. Beautiful raptors, our countryside needs them now and always!

  17. JW says:

    I went on the march yesterday. It was the first such march I have ever been on and I found it an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. A lot of people watched the march 'live' as we walked past, but none appeared antagonistic towards us. I waved to many on buses and in cars - a heartening number waved back. I felt we had a positive influence.
    I went on the march because of my dismay at the current levels of wildlife crime and animal cruelty made worse by the Government's apparent indifference towards it.
    I have always cast my vote in General Elections in a way that I thought would promote greater respect for animals, wildlife and the environment but suspect now that going on such a march was way more powerful.
    I think I just might be the tip of an iceberg as more people realise that the Government is ignoring their expressed concerns and that individuals must do a bit more themselves. The Government does not seem to be listening to its electorate or bodies such as RSPB, LACS, WWT, Wildlife Trusts and many others who speak for a large part of this electorate.
    I am just an ordinary pensioner, not a 'hot head' or political activist but I can no longer passively watch such cruelty and illegality towards wildlife. I am not prepared to tolerate the killing of animals for fun and 'prestige'. I want a Government to represent the wishes of the MAJORITY of its electorate, not the most powerful and rich. Until then I may go on another march or two.
    I would like to thank the organisers of yesterday's march and all who took part in spirit or flesh. Thanks to those who spoke to the marchers and those who waved back at us from the buses and cars.

  18. freddy says:

    So Mr Avery wrote an article claiming there had been thousands at the march when it hadn't even happened yet. He then decided there were only about a thousand. This article clearly contained information that Mr Avery believed at the time was false. I have to say that does come across as dishonest.

    • Mark says:

      freddy - thank you for your first comment here.

      It clearly didn't - it contained information I believed would be true and was true. That seems pretty good really.

      I am now predicting that I am going to bed but I will be back here tomorrow. Fabrication? We'll see.

      • freddy says:

        "I am now predicting" - what you've done there is make it clear you are making a prediction about the future rather than writing about it in the past tense to give the impression you are reporting something that happened - which it turns out afterwards that you didn't think did - but which you then decide to change your mind and think it did in order to match it to your original deception.

        I'd stick to groups like LACS Dr Avery. You'd be more comfortable in an echo chamber where your deceptions won't be pointed out. You are clearly uncomfortable with any rigour and will just resort to insults.

  19. Jennifer Edwards says:

    Tim Bonner is talking rubbish - I counted 1280 towards the end of the march - it was around that give or take maybe 100 or so. I knew pros would try and belittle the numbers.

  20. freddy says:

    Ok well in that case when you stated on this blog you believed there was only about a thousand you must really have thought there were several thousand. Unless you are capable of simultaneously believing there were two different numbers at the same time? Moreover it seems pretty clear you dressed up a prediction as a statement of fact.

  21. Richard Ebbs says:

    Just for your information Freddy, Mark is Dr. Avery, he has a science based PhD.


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