RSPB statement on 2020 Hen Harrier numbers

Following today’s news from Natural England on breeding numbers of Hen Harriers in England this year, the RSPB says:

The news that 60 hen harrier chicks have fledged in England this year is encouraging, and testament to the crucial monitoring from raptor workers. However, while 24 nests monitored is an improvement on the 7 nests in 2017, there is enough habitat and prey to support more than 12 times this year’s total.  The science is clear that illegal persecution remains the most serious threat to this species  –  since 2018, 43 hen harriers are known to have been killed or “gone missing”, after fledging.  The sad reality for those who passionately protect these birds is that some of this years’ fledglings risk being killed.  If this painfully slow recovery is to gather pace, and these beautiful and enigmatic birds are to become as common across our landscapes as they should be, the illegal persecution must stop.

Hang on! 24 nests monitored? Natural England said 19 nests (not 19 successful nests, but 19 nests) so where did these extra 5 nests come from? Were these renesting attempts or simply failed nests that haven’t been counted by Natural England? I’m confused but not surprised.

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7 Replies to “RSPB statement on 2020 Hen Harrier numbers”

  1. So we can assume that 19 nests were successful and 5 failed. How why and when in the breeding cycle did they fail and in which category do RSPB put the Brood meddled nests?

      1. Indeed Mark. Its important to know about the failures. Particularly as the NE/ MA figures for 2019 failed to include at least two other nests in North Yorkshire that almost certainly failed due to persecution. As Nimby says below we need to see data, down to county level including the failures, I'm afraid I don't trust NE or any of the grouse cabal in this.

  2. I think (as Paul says) it's fairly clear, couched in cloudy language; "60 chicks fledged from 19 nests". You can imagine the meeting to decide on the press release. Whatever you do, don't use the word "fail"!!!!

  3. Sadly transparency has never been a guiding principle of Natural England or their 'partners' in such ventures. Will the public believe them or will they be able to see through the propaganda.

    England has habitat for 300 pairs, so yes this is an improvement but the big question is .... how long will this cohort survive? Not wanting to jinx anything but there appears (thankfully) a lull in reports of 'missing' birds ....

    Sadly trust has been lost, we need to see data, not NE et. al. PR spin please Natural England.

  4. Does anyone share how many were tagged. what type of tag, who is tracking them, how often will the data be published etc (with a suitable delay of course) and what is happening with the brood meddled birds? It's very very odd that the only quotes on the NE press release are from MA and GWCT - where was RSPB and the other organisations on the other side of the debate - it just undermines any credibility as either NE didn't want RSPB to say anything that would undermine their happy-clappy message or RSPB had such different comments that they couldn't agree any wording!! Either way it's not good enough - I thought Tony Jupiter would be better than this...


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