You could set your clock by the regularity of these reports. In news that will shock absolutely no-one, the RSPB has announced the sudden and inexplicable ‘disappearance’ of three young satellite-tagged hen harriers.
All three had hatched this year, all three had vanished before the end of August, and in all three cases the tag’s last known fix came from a driven grouse moor.
Photo of Hen Harrier Octavia, by Steve Downing:
Read the RSPB blog here
The three ‘missing’ harriers are Hilma (1), Octavia (2) and Heulwen (3).
According to the RSPB blog, Hilma’s last known tag fix was on 8 August 2018 ‘near Wooler, Northumberland over land managed for driven grouse shooting’.
From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be on the Lilburn Estate. We’ve blogged about the Lilburn Estate recently (see here).
Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Hilma’s last known location. The rectangular strips of burnt heather give the game away a bit, eh?
According to the RSPB blog, Octavia’s last known tag fix was on 26 August 2018 on ‘privately owned grouse moors near Sheffield’.
Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Octavia’s last known location. The rectangular strips of burnt heather give the game away a bit, eh?
According to the RSPB blog, Heulwen’s last known tag fix was on 29 August 2018 ‘in the vicinity of Ruabon Mountain’.
Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Heulwen’s last known location:
And cue obfuscation, denial and deflections from the grouse shooting industry’s social media trolls, deathly silence from the grouse shooting industry’s representative bodies, and wilful blindness (and continued silence) from DEFRA, Michael Gove MP, Therese Coffey MP, Natural England and anyone else who thinks we’re stupid enough to believe that the HH Action Plan is helping hen harrier population recovery.
Cartoon by Gerard Hobley