Crikey! England has three active hen harrier nests!

HH by Gordon LangsburyHere’s some good news for a change – England has three active hen harrier nests this year!

Yes, it’s frankly absurd that a miserly three active nests can cause such celebration, especially when you put it in to context (it’s still less than 1% of the potential English population estimate of 330 pairs) but what the hell, three is three and it’s one more than last year, and we all need something to celebrate.

Two of the nests are reported to be on the United Utilities Estate in Bowland, Lancashire, following a two-year absence. The location of the third nest has not been revealed, probably for obvious security reasons.

The success of these nests is still a long way from certain – one is at the egg stage, one has young chicks and the status of the third has not yet been reported, but it looks like everything possible is being done to promote success with 24/7 nest watches, remote cameras and even a spot of diversionary feeding, all in partnership with the RSPB, local landowner, local council and Natural England.

IF any chicks manage to fledge, and that is a capitalised IF, there will be further concerns for the fate of those dispersing youngsters, especially if they decide to fly towards the grouse moors of Yorkshire where many that have gone before them have un-mysteriously ‘disappeared’….but for now, let’s just enjoy the palpable excitement of Blanaid Denman, the RSPB’s Skydancer Project Officer, as she explains the discovery of this year’s nests – read her excellent blog here.

And a big well done to Blanaid and her team, who have had to put up with so much undeserved criticism over the last few years, notably from one particular organisation that should know better.

If you’re new to this blog and you’re wondering why there are only three active hen harrier nests in England when there is the potential for over 300, click here to read some previous blog entries that explain why.

If you want to know what people are doing about this obscene situation (and more to the point, what YOU can do about it), we suggest you read this (and consider signing the petition) and this (and consider turning out to support these protests). Thanks!

Hen harrier photo by Gordon Langsbury.

18 thoughts on “Crikey! England has three active hen harrier nests!”

  1. Sincere thanks guys! It’s the staff and volunteers on the ground in Bowland working their backsides off round the clock and going above and beyond in all weathers to keep watch over those nests that deserve the most credit.

    A number of individuals have been tweeting #HH2014 and talking about making 2014 the Year of the Hen Harrier – I expressed the same hope myself on my first blog of the year back in January. For better or worse (better for hen harriers I hope) I think that wish is going to bear out. Momentum is building – it’s practically palpable – from all sides and there will be many statements, blogs and comments to come on all the various happenings in the very near future, from us, and from others I have no doubt.

    In the meantime, there is one thing that’s overwhelmingly clear – people care about the plight of our hen harriers and it seems they will not stay silent.

    Thanks again. #HenHarrierHeroes

  2. “…………. and even a spot of diversionary feeding….”…….who is paying for the keepers to go for a MacDonalds?

    Great news…but this is what a peak looks like when you are cycling around zero! The best thing is that they are in more than one place.

  3. thanks for the good news for a change, good luck to all involved and lets hope if they fledge they stay clear of the infamous yorkshire moors triangle

  4. Thats a little better..of course the scottish HH population [itself heavily under threat or extinguished in several areas] will continue to supply recruits into England by normal migration, so such an on/off english extinction could go on for years….So, why not emulate the Garten Ospreys story here and throw serious effort into these nesting harriers. Make them open sites, while guarding them, really go to town on publicity, sat tag all fledging young, involve local schools and the national press and media. The RSPB took the risk in 1954 – and it worked.

    1. Is human interference good for ground nesting birds? Its slightly different for tree nests, isn’t it? Ref: Capercaillie and Ptarmigan disturbance and predation following human input.

      I would question whether the Scottish HH population is under heavy pressure given that I am seeing them on a regular basis.

      1. The Hen Harrier in Scotland faces just as much persecution as do it’s English brethren, the difference is there’s more of them to start with in Scotland.

        Good news about Bowland, lets hope it continues to improve without interference from the Raptor persecutors.

  5. Its sad that such efforts are needed to protect these handful of pairs in what is supposed to be a civilised Western country. Its not unlike the round the clock security now needed for Rhinos in Africa.

    1. Not a very indepth discussion, but at least given some attention. He also mentioned the reward for the Ross-shire Kites. Here’s hoping it helps.

  6. fingers are well-and-truly crossed but protection from extirptaion will require much more than that. I look forward to the day where technology provides tracker devices inclusive of quality video & images in real time – live harrier drones capturing the criminals in the act.
    I also look forward to the day where wildlife criminals receive a far greater punishment than for wrongful parking of a vehicle, not having a TV license or fishing without a license!

    1. Drones certainly are going to play a big role in crime detection/prevention in the future. Already being used in Game parks in Kenya with some success

    1. but caught on camera in real-time might prove enlightening if only to disprove the sporting industry’s view that their members are not being victimised after all and our harriers are also not being abducted by aliens ;-)

  7. Not really much to celebrate is it ?, 3 harrier nests out of a what should be 300 plus, it would help a great deal if the RSPB asked their 1,100,000 members to sign Mark Averys online petition to ban grouse shooting,but we all know they cant do that.

  8. True in real-time recording it might just work , but I won’t hold my breath I have been a raptor researcher for over thirty years, it seems to be the law protecting raptors will always fall short and meaningless, but I will never give up,I simply love raptors and they have a right to be here,but not according to the shooting estates.

  9. As the whole success is down to a ‘Vole’ year how much work is going into the management of grassland to keep vole numbers high! And remember 1000+ Short eared Owls have to be killed with out you batting an eye lid!

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