Hen Harrier Days 2018 – a brief summary

A short summary of events over the weekend (and last weekend) ahead of the opening of the grouse shooting season (usually on the Inglorious 12th but this year) on the Inglorious 13th.  [Obviously I wasn’t present at them all – any updates or corrections will be welcome].


Sheffield – 4 August

About 180 attendees. Speakers: Liz Ballard, Natalie Bennett, Ian Rotherham, Cathleen Thomas, Jon Stewart, Georgia Locock.


Rainham Marshes, RSPB – 11 August

Martin Harper speaks to c230 people on a sunny day at Rainham Marshes.  Other speakers; Ruth Tingay, Natalie Bennett, Chris Packham and myself and a cameo performance by Barry Gardiner.

Grassington, Yorks – 11 August

Photo: Guy Shorrock

About 70 attendees at an indoor event. Speakers: Steve Downing, Ian Court, Stuart Grainger, James Bray, Rhodri Thomas, Guy Shorrock



Hebden Bridge, Yorks – 11 August

An anti-grouse shooting rally in Hebden Bridge organised by LACS and Stop the Shoot.  ‘Nearly 100’ attendees reported.  Speakers: Luke Steele, Dominic Dyer, Ros Berrington, Nick Weston.


Dungonnel Reservoir, Northern Irleand – 11 August

HH Day 2018 Northern Ireland (c) NIRSG

About 50 attendees.


Parkgate, Cheshire – 12 August

Over 300 attended the Parkgate Hen Harrier Day rally. Speakers: Alan Davies, Colin Wells, Graham Jones, Jeff Clarke, Findlay Wilde, James Gray, myself and Iolo Williams.


Grantown, Highlands – 12 August

Photo: Mat Larkin

120 attendees at an indoor event. Speakers: Harry Huyton, Andy Wightman, Brian Etheridge, Isla Hodgson, Grant Moir.


Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwicks – 12 August

Photo: Simon Watts, WILD! Presentations.

Around 190 attendees.  Speakers: Natalie Bennett, Nick Miles, David Lindo, Tim Birch, Emma Marsh, Peter Howe.


Sheffield Hallam Labour Party moorland walk, Peak District – 12 August


About 40 walkers.


So, around 1200 keen participants this year.  Not bad at all.  And a growing number of organisations taking part and organising these events related to grouse shooting, wildlife crime, and Hen Harriers.  The base is spreading and becoming more solid.

Natalie Bennett deserves special mention – attending Sheffield, Rainham and Stratford-upon-Avon HHDay events – top job Natalie, and you are an inspiring speaker!

An attendee at the Highland HHDay event suggested to Grant Moir, CEO of the Cairngorms NP, that it should be renamed the Cairngorms Grouse Park!

Iolo Willaims is going to release wolves and bears into Parliament and we gave Findlay Wilde an Icelandic thunderclap at Parkgate.

Andrew Gilruth had to give up his Saturday to come and take notes of what the speakers said at Rainham.To be fair, he couldn’t help but laugh at some of Chris Packham’s funniest lines.

Also at Rainham, we had the unexpected pleasure of a Labour front-bencher, Barry Gardiner, Shadow International Trade and Climate Change Secretary, attending. And despite not being on the speaker list he was pressed into saying a few words.  Remember, Barry was at the Derwent Dam in 2014 so he is a veteran of these events.  No senior politician gives up any of their Saturday in recess to attend an event unless it is either important or something in which they believe, and I think we can take it from Barry’s presence and what he said, that HHDay scored on both counts for him.

Amanda (If we let the Hen Harrier in…) Anderson has become a figure of fun at HHDays. She was mentioned at Parkgate with her famed kitchen window which looks out onto a sky black with raptors, but she apparently left the Grassington event before the showing of the Bleasdale Peregrine video.  Seen it all before ‘Manda?







15 Replies to “Hen Harrier Days 2018 – a brief summary”

  1. Very well done and thanks to all who organised these events – I met many wonderful people at the Loch Leven one last year, golden day.

  2. It’s a great shame the RSPB Arne (Dorset) event didn’t go ahead this year. Last year’s was well attended and a brilliant, inspiring day out. Finger’s crossed for 2019.

  3. The Parkgate event was excellent. Massive shout out to all those who gave up a few hours of their lives to show their passion for this appalling practice. Particular thanks to all the inspiring speakers. We won’t forget your words.

  4. Yes, Alex – the speakers were great. Andy Wightman is a legend and I loved Brian and Alan’s talks. I particularly liked it when Brian asked Grant how many hen harriers were in the CNP and the uncomfortable pause that followed prior to his guesstimate!
    Troubling in reality however as The Cairngorms Grouse Park should know!

  5. Grassington was great – all speakers concurred that driven grouse shooting was the key problem, and the Police spoke very well. (Amanda’s sat 4 rows from front and 4th from left – I think she ducked for Guy’s pic…his camera work might worry her?)

    Overheard during the interval – “it’s so unfair!” Amanda speaking to Chief Inspector Hubble…reminded me of Violet Elizabeth in Just William.

  6. I note that there was an event in Grantown, Scotland; in fact it is the only event in Scotland and had I known about it I may have increased the attendance by 2. Anyway what I would like to know is:
    1) Considering the size of the Grouse shooting industry and blanket bog in Scotland why was there only one event here?
    2) Are there any events planned in Scotland in the near future?
    3) Where I am based in North East Scotland many jobs rely on the industry, however I do think that somewhere there is a way to protect jobs and create a bio diverse environment for our uplands. If there isn’t another event in Scotland I would like to host one but I would like to invite industry people be that land owner, estate factor, and/or gamekeeper for a public debate with a view to trying to find that middle ground. Would you be interested in such an event and could you put me in contact with speakers that would be prepared to debate in a constructive way?
    Many thanks in advance.

  7. Hi Mark

    I counted at least 170 people at the Sheffield event when Liz Ballard (Sheffield & Rotherham wildlife Trust) started the speeches rolling. Some people had popped in and left by that point.

    The event was supported with stalls from the Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Sheffield Bird Study Group, RSPB and the Green Party.

    Obviously the proposed 2019 return to Derwent Dams would clash with the Sheffield event which is so well organised by David at Sheffield Environmental. The big plus point of the Sheffield HH Day is that it is the only event which is slap bang in the middle of of big city and therefore gets noticed by passing members of the public. How do we reconcile the differing appeals of both locations?

    Derwent Dams has the rock star appeal but then again a lot of people who drop-in on foot or by bus to the Sheffield event probably can’t or won’t drag themselves out to Derwent. Which is the best way forward?

  8. I enjoyed the Rainham event again. It’s good to have at least one event hosted by the RSPB as they get a lot of criticism for being too soft on the shooting fraternity. I was particularly pleased that our grandson wanted to come with us this year as he is at the age where he gets most of his information on line. It was great that he could hear good speakers making well-thought out arguments about a topic they felt passionate about. When we hang up our marching boots, hopefully we can pass on our passion to a younger generation.

    1. lyn – it was good to see you both again and to meet your grandson. Thanks for coming – as you both so often do.

  9. Hi Mark
    We went to the event in Stratford on Avon. About 200 people came, all the speakers were great and so involved in this debate. Natalie Bennet obviously had a busy weekend!! Nick Miles started the proceedings with a heartfelt speech about the Dales and how he was appalled at the treatment meted out to raptors. The theme was continued and developed by the speakers that followed. Thanks to all, a great day. And I came home with 2 bottles of Hen Harrier beer, think I’ll save those until Friday when I get home from the Birdfair.

    Sue & Chris Green

  10. Hi Mark
    These HH days certainly help keep the Hen Harrier in the news and there’s no doubt in my mind that they are heaping pressure on the shooting brigade to ‘mend their ways’ as they fight to retain their outdated ‘sports’. Couldn’t make the Sheffield event as I was up on the moors watching these magnificent birds who have thankfully been successful this year (in no small measure due to events like these!) For the first time in years I am cautiously optimistic that their may be a future for the HH in England – we must all keep the pressure on…


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