At last the public have been told where the missing two Bowland Hen Harriers went missing after fledging from their natal territories on the United Utilities estate. It appears the two harriers only managed to fly across onto the next adjoining two moorland estates before they both vanished off the radar.
Here are the facts:
Sky’s last transmission was at 7.33pm on Wednesday 10 September around Summersgill Fell, west of Thrush Gill, in the Forest of Bowland.
Hope’s last transmission was at 10.51am on the Saturday 13 September around Mallowdale Pike, also in the Forest of Bowland.
What is very significant both separate estates have a history of disappearing raptors; the Trush Gill and Greenbank Fell area have witnessed the disappearance of nesting goshawks and the consistent loss of a clutch of peregrine eggs from one territory for the last two seasons.
Looking across Green Bank Fell and in the distance Trush Gill Plantation. Skye disappeared at the back of Trush Gill Plantation in the distance. Raptors do not last long in this regions for some curious reason.
Complete clutch of peregrine eggs disappeared from this 2013 nest scrape on this estate.
Same nesting territory failed in 2014 on same estate after second clutch of peregrine eggs disappeared from nesting scrape
The last time the Mallowdale peregrine territory was productive was in 2010 when two chicks were produced, before that it was in 1997 when a single female chick fledged successfully. Historically rocks and boulders had been recovered from nesting ledges placed into active nests to prevent breeding taking place at Mallowdale. Over the years numerous completed clutches of eggs have been found at this territory contained in abandoned nesting scrapes. The number of adult breeding Peregrines which continue to mysteriously disappear without trace from the Mallowdale territory each spring is alarming.
Mallowdale Pike middle centre, taken from Gallows Hill. This is the remote moorland where Hope vanished from the radar. At Mallowdale Pike peregrines have attempted to breed almost each year during the last twenty years with only two successes.
Under normal circumstances, Mallowdale’s remote and isolated location should provide a safe haven for breeding peregrines along with other raptors, including hen harriers where in the mid 1980′s at least two breeding pairs were always resident.
The last successful breeding attempt by peregrines at Mallowdale Pike was in 2010. Two chicks were reared after the resident gamekeeper left the estate in December 2009 to take up a new post elsewhere. Importantly, because the replacement gamekeeper was unable to take up his new post until late in the following summer, breeding peregrines were given breathing space to rear their brood for the first time since 1973 in complete safety. However not a single nesting attempt by peregrines has been successful at this remote location ever since.
A rare image showing the two peregrine chicks contained in their nest at Mallowdale Pike in 2010. Both chicks fledged successfully because no resident gamekeepers were present on the estate at a critical point in time.
Well done the RSPB for making this important information available for public scrutiny at last. When will Natural England have the courage to do the same?
It is important to highlight one critical point. Both estates where Hope & Sky disappeared adjoin moorland owned by United Utilities estate where the lost harriers were hatched and reared. The distance from where both hen harriers fledged to where they then each vanished is less that 4 miles.
Here is the all important map showing us the moorland where Hope and Sky went missing after their transmitters stopped working. The blue squares show the final satellite tag transmissions of Hope (left) and Sky (right). For further details of these sites please read the RSPB’s Skydancer blog here.
Updated map supplied by the RSPB this afternoon
Additional Information regarding the loss of one of the Langholm tagged Hen Harriers.
We have just learned that one of the many Hen Harriers that fledged successfully from Langolm this year is now also reported missing. Sid was satellite-tagged in July and after fledging was tracked in Yorkshire on moorland close to Hawes. The question must be asked how many of this years the un-tagged Hen Harriers are still alive? We will never know the answer to that question will we? You are able to follow Sids movements this summer on the Making the Most of Moorlands.