In late June the Moorland Association jumped the gun and said there were 12 Hen Harrier nests on grouse moors in England this year. They also said that this equalled the number in the whole of England last year (not true according to Natural England). And they said that 6 of these nests were in Lancashire, 4 in Cumbria and 2 in Yorkshire.
In July Natural England said that there were more than 20 successful Hen Harrier nests in England.
Today Natural England said that there were 19 Hen Harrier nests in England this year which were in Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland and the Yorkshire Dales. Nineteen is clearly a different, and smaller, number than ‘more than 20’ so Natural England is contradicting itself. Natural England has also told us, that there were two nests in North Yorkshire this year (one of which was brood-meddled) and 3 nests in the Yorkshire Dales (one of which was brood-meddled); the broodmeddled nests must have been on grouse moors and the neighbouring nests are very likely to have been too. I have no idea why Natural England used the term Yorkshire Dales rather than Yorkshire but the two are not remotely the same as quite a large chunk of the Yorkshire Dales are in Cumbria. And I strongly suspect that some of the Yorkshire Dales’ nests were in Cumbria.
Today the RSPB said that there were 24 Hen Harrier nests in England and 19 of them were successful.
What to believe? Here are three rules of thumb that I use on Hen Harrier pronouncements:
- what the Moorland Association say: I don’t believe it, they have a tenuous grasp of the facts and a track record of error
- what Natural England says: I don’t believe it all, they have a track-record of incompetence with facts and data and so I try to check everything
- RSPB: I believe them, and if they make a mistake I will regard it as an honest mistake (we all make those)