Natural England silent on suspicious failures of hen harrier breeding attempts

Guy Shorrock from the RSPB Investigations Team published a fascinating blog last week about what he describes as the ‘suspicious failure of two hen harrier nesting attempts near the 2019 brood management site’ (see here).

Unfortunately the locations of these failed nesting attempts are not given, other than them being within 5km of the brood meddled hen harriers, which we believe were on the Swinton Estate in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.

[An un-meddled hen harrier nest, photo by Mark Hamblin]

The circumstances of the two 2019 suspicious nesting failures are a mystery although Guy reports that the RSPB had been told that one of the breeding males had been shot by a gamekeeper from a neighbouring estate, but without evidence this alleged victim can’t be added to the list of 37 other hen harriers that have either been found illegally killed or have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances since 2018 (see here).

What’s interesting about Guy’s blog is that the news of these two nesting attempts which failed in suspicious circumstances wasn’t publicised by Natural England or DEFRA or any of the other supporters of the ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling scheme. Instead we got a public statement from DEFRA and Natural England (here) pretending that the grouse shooting industry had had an epiphany and was now championing the return of the species it had previously attacked to the verge of extinction as a breeding species in England.

Needless to say, several months later we learned that all five of the 2019 brood meddled hen harriers were ‘missing’ presumed dead, and only one of those was considered to have died of natural causes (see here). And we only found out about their fates because we’d chased Natural England for the info.

There’s more to come on what else Natural England has been hiding….

10 thoughts on “Natural England silent on suspicious failures of hen harrier breeding attempts”

  1. It strikes me that despite the lack of an announcement from the RSPB about the membership consultation on persecution, the latest blogs from RSPB show at last a determination to expose all raptor persecution. This is very refreshing and I believe goes far further than in the past.

  2. Sadly this is very close to a grouse moor (not necessarily the same one) I over looked on whilst stretching our legs before dinner at a local B&B. It was devoid of bird life apart from the sound of grouse. Looking at it from the satellite photos it looks more like a grouse farm than an area of natural habitat – reminiscent of trophy shooting reserves in Africa. (I live within a couple of miles of grouse moor where I have seen Crows, Kestrels and Buzzards).

  3. What is it about NE that seems to see them determined to lose the conservation community’s confidence? Why aren’t Marian Spain or Tony Juniper concerned about reputational damage (to organisation as well as their own)?

    Is it that a few pretty pictures with landowners helping for example Curlews or Lapwings makes up for all the death, destruction & illegal wildlife crime? Even joe public in my area seem to be wondering what NE do these days other than preside over debacles – are they #FitForPurpose any more? Yes I suppose they are IF that purpose is to shield wildlife crime?

  4. I’m afraid that NE lost any trust that I had in them when I heard their hen harrier lead tell a room of keepers and police officers that the link between harriers and heather needed to be broken.

  5. Why do you tossers constantly make invalidated claims like “the male was shot by a gamekeeper” but there’s No evidence! and also keep re hashing more false news from the past “in case you missed it” because there isn’t any actual evidence that you can publish! You are just a sad bunch of have nots and when you do venture out into the countryside leave litter everywhere!

    1. Mr Fenn, when an RSPB investigations officer says that he has been RELIABLY informed that a male Harrier has been shot by a keeper it is most unlikely this is untrue, although one has to admit this is not evidence. That there were more pairs in the area than the two pairs involved in the brood meddling is well known and yet there was at the time a sudden and quite unexplained silence over more than the BM pair and the one left but fed. Unlike the game lobby and friends we tell the truth.
      It has been well known since Langholm 1 that DGS cannot survive without persecution of Hen Harriers, Peregrines and other raptors, so why do folk like you think we don’t understand that. It is after all why Hen Harriers are so rare in England ( they should be as common as Kestrels on Moorland) and grouse moor Peregrine sites are either vacant or unproductive.
      Now go away and collect some litter that some ne’er do wells have left in the countryside, as I seem to spend enough time doing it and its mainly plastic from agriculture of spent shotgun cartridges from our local shoot.

  6. Ah – there you have it – the reasoned response from one of our countryside guardians. I’m crushed.

  7. Unsubstantiated opinion. Some evidence rather than position would make this more effective journalism. Just my opinion.

  8. I imagine any professional gamekeeper worth their salt knows exactly who and what is going on on their patch. So for any “magician” to turn up on a shoot and start making Hen Harriers and other raptors disappear would certainly have their peers laughing at them. Since most of the prosecutions relate to game keepers, it seem likely that the same proportions of un-prosecuted crime would be gamekeeper related especially as most of birds disappear on shoots. As for the litter issue; I regularly return from countryside with a bagful of litter. Just wondering whether the game keeping fraternity gather up all lead shot they and their associates litter the countryside with – probably not!

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