Hen Harriers, Lies and more lies! says Don Scott.

[singlepic id=212w=358 h=281 float=left]Having scrupulously read the contents of the 2010 UK Hen Harrier Survey which included N. Ireland, my colleagues and I are aghast at the once again ‘exaggerated’ figures shown for our small Province! Even the dogs in the street here know that there were not 59 pairs breeding pairs of hen harriers here in 2010, or was there ever 63 pairs back in 2004! My colleague and I trawled the Antrim Hills, their former stronghold, so precisely in 2010 that we should have taken up residence there as we were never away from the area, due to how difficult it was to find Hen Harriers, or the lack of them would be more precise!

When I was a small boy I used to sing in the church choir and the hymn: – Tell me the old old story comes to mind in the context – when are these people going to own up and tell the truth, as the – ‘can’t count syndrome’, have been caught out once again! I dread to think, that if the figures are so wrong for N. Ireland, what can be said for the rest of the UK?

There is NO way on this earth that there were 59 pairs of Hen Harriers in N. Ireland during 2010 – in fact they were that hard to find we almost gave up on them in the Antrim Hills – one would have needed a microscope to find them !

All I and others want to know is – what are our so-called conservation (money-orientated) organisations going to do about the situation, absolutely nothing!! Nor have they ever done anything concrete or worthwhile for this beautiful raptor, particularly in the neck of the woods that I come from (N. Ireland)! I have diligently studied Hen Harriers, under licence, for 25 consecutive seasons along with my colleague Philip McHaffie and if we cannot find these birds then strangers who are not familiar with the species ecology and their habitat during these counts are certainly not going to find them!!

I have consistently shown over the past 10 years that this species has been in ‘freefall’ particularly in Antrim my study area, and have been laughed at, scorned and verbally abused by so-called conservationists and conservation organisations!! Well the last laugh is on you lot, who once again cannot get it right when it comes to the protection of this species – we in the UK do not deserve this bird !!

I would also add, that my latest book on the species was praised by many as what I was stating was actually the truth – and what did I get from one half-wit, who does not study and seemingly knows very little about harriers when he was asked to review my book – a character assassination and a total condemnation of what I was rightly complaining about!!

The truth about all this is – that there were actually only 29 pairs found in the whole of N. Ireland during 2010 and not 59 as stated by Bird Guides!! I was sent these figures about 2 weeks prior to the publishing of the UK figures by the so-called chief co-ordinator in N. Ireland – so the true decline is not 6% – but a ‘whopping 54% for Northern Ireland!! If anyone wants to see these figures I will gladly furnish them, as I have noting to hide but the truth!!

Absolutely disgusted. Don Scott. CBiol. MSB. N. Ireland.



12 comments to Hen Harriers, Lies and more lies! says Don Scott.

  • John Miles

    In 1989 my Hen Harriers on the Geltsdale reserve where i was a warden were killed under me to increase the number of Red Grouse on an RSPB reserve. 22 years later no progress has been made to protect this species and many other Birds of Prey on Red Grouse moors in northern England. Voluntary Groups like the North West Raptor Group, Don’s work, the late Tom Irthing at Langholm, Mike Henry and I am sure many more individuals have all given years of their lives to try and show what is happening.

    Large amounts of money have been spent by the so called conservationists all over Britain and especially Bowland but the rich are above the law. And it is getting worse with ‘super estates’ determined to beat even Victorian bags of Red Grouse many in the thousands if not tens of thousands of birds to kill. For what? To feed the ‘super rich’ who do not pay tax in this country. Where are the ‘Peter Scott’s in these super rich. Is that all their brain can see. Bang, Bang, Ar’n’t I a clever boy!

  • nirofo

    You surprise me not, the same applies to the far north of Scotland. We all know the reasons, including our esteemed so-called wildlife protection agencies and a certain society, unfortunately they continue to bury their subsidised heads in the sand and ignore the facts hoping that if they do nothing for long enough it will all go away.


    • Skydancer

      After complaining for years about the loss of hundreds of raptors in Bowland, particularly on property owned by United Utilities during the last ten seasons, Natural England have revoked licenses held to monitor all species on this estate by members of the North West Raptor Protection Group. The group have been protecting raptors in Bowland for 43 years. What are Natural England trying to conceal and why? The truth will come out, hang your heads in shame!

  • jock scott

    Perhaps readers of Don Scott’s post would be interested to read the review of his book to which he refers.


    • admin

      To be correct, it is a review of Don Scott’s book. It is clear the reviewer (Ian “there’ll never be any red kites reintroduced into Cumbria because it’s far too wet” Carter) isn’t happy with Don Scott’s assertions that figures were inflated in the 2004 national survey, and I guess you’ll have to make up your mind whether to go along with a bureaucrat’s opinion who sits at a desk in Peterborough, or someone who has been at the sharp end for 25 years …

  • Harrier Man

    Please tell me what Natural England and the RSPB supposed to do if our government continues to ignore the research and the scientific advisors. Im sure that most governments will turn a blind eye to what the super rich shooters (wherever they are from) do on the grouse moors probably because half of the government officials and law lords do as what they do blast a few grouse.

    If we could get the public to rally as they did for the forests maybe we can a chance in helping raptors over the grouse moors banning grouse shooting should be an option but even this is severly scrutinised by many due to the presence of high numbers of breeding waders over the north pennines, which in my mind comes down to large scale habitat management (low intensive as at Geltsdale) not just for a single species. We have seen large scale draining of the English uplands these special areas kept naturally open due to micro climate conditions is where our waders are losing out increas wetness will create ideal conditions not the dry barren lifeless wetless grouse moors.

    Its the will of the english people in the end not some rich, arrogant, selfish landowner who should have the say in our uplands. I have met so many grouse moor keepers, agents and owners and heard of their love of the moors and how they belong here. It is they who manage and keep it looking open and so called beautiful they have no right they have no history they have no belonging our fathers and forefathers common people who died in the wars for this country who should own this land. But now we see it turned into a rich mans playground with the demise of our wilderness and the special birds that belong here doomed to the gun. I can assure song bird survival that if any of you are reading this that it is the the grouse moor keeper killing and slaugtering the hen harrier and anything that may harm their precious grouse talk to me, ring me, meet me even better look at the dismal number of breeding records on grouse moors over the last 100 years in England, if it is not them then who the hell is it?

  • David Gregory

    I have no doubt that persecution by gamekeepers has contributed to the collapse of the current Hen Harrier populations in both Scotland and in the North of England. The fact that Mark Avery has now spoken out about the route cause of this decline only emphasises the RSPB’s culpability,because clearly the society could have spoken out much sooner.

    There are dark forces at work in Bowland which are concealing the true facts from the public.For example did you know that before any field worker is permitted to monitor birds of prey on the United Utilities estate they are required to sign a field protocol document.This document contains a “gagging” clause preventing anyone working at the behest of the company divulging information gained while working on the estate into the public domain. What is the company so determined to hide I wonder ?

    Last year one Harrier nest on the UU estate was visited by an serial nest visitor without first coordinating the visit he carried out. This was then followed by three further visits to the same nest by a tv camera crew (4 people) and an RSPB manager. The first visit to the nest was clearly a publicity photo shoot boost the green credentials of the land owner. During this visit the tv presenter was seen by tv viewers kneeling down beside the clutch of eggs in the nest while conducting an interview. Some weeks later a second nest visit was undertaken to establish and film the number of eggs that had hatched. The look of complete surprise on the face of the manager when he began to tell viewers in a stuttering embarrassed voice that only two of the clutch of eggs had hatched. A third visit to the nest to ring the chicks was then carried out and again shown to tv viewers just a few weeks later bringing the total visits to this single nest to at least four.

    Was the resulting disturbance caused by visiting the nest really necessary ? More important,were any of the televised nest visits justified in view of the endangered status of the Hen Harrier in England?

    One of the most appalling incidents which took place last year concerned a second Hen Harrier nest being filmed from a hide on moorland in the Forest of Bowland owned by United Utilities, despite Natural England’s incorrect claims the hide had never been used, the hide was quickly removed following the death and dissapearance of both chicks. Again more lies to conceal the truth of what really goes on behind closed doors on this estate.

    Such irresponsible behaviour undertaken by the so called experts, in my view can only add to the problems currently being faced by Harriers in England. How can anyone place the blame solely at the door of game keepers when conservation bodies like the RSPB and Natural England display such a cavalier disregard for a species on the verge of extinction ?

  • Coop

    I’ve said it several times before, and I’ll say it again: The RSPB are hog-tied by the royal charter. It serves no useful purpose. And, in my humble prole opininion, should be ditched ASAP. We really need to take a few pointers from North Africa, and bloody well stand up and be counted!

  • An interview with Don about Hen Harries in Northern Ireland can be found on my website:



  • Dave Dick

    Dear me, what a lot of [misdirected] vitriol…instead of attacking the RSPB – who may have made some policy mistakes [doesnt every organisation?]but were the first to even try to count hen harriers back in the 1980s; and put their money where their mouths were to do so – why dont you concentrate on attacking the real problem. The Police and Courts – thats where the failure lies – lots of strong protection Laws but no one is enforcing them – dont expect the RSPB to do that, the landowners and their chums have been trying to squeeze RSPB out for years.

    When the study/census of Hen Harriers was first mooted in 1988 I met a lot of resistance from rank and file raptor workers – dont rock the boat, the landowners/keepers will stop us monitoring our merlins/peregrines/eagles.It took a lot of hard work by the RSPB to raise the profile of this bird.

    Just because we have a very widespread/denied/establishment backed/police ignored/financially supported through QCs/difficult problem doesnt mean we should be snapping at each other. Face the real enemy, make sure you all write the truth in the Press and Media, as often as you can. Embarrass their political allies and get the good politicians on your side, whatever their Party allegiance.

    Also remember that if you want to see a stable harrier population this isnt just about one area…its about the whole country and a whole corrupt system which allows the killing of several species of protected raptor..

    Oh yes…and that man referred to at Langholm was Tom Irvine [not Irthing]…a lovely, gentle man who I had the privilege to know and who would not have wasted time in in-fighting like this.

    • Coop

      Well said Dave. The RSPB aren’t infallible, but there’s nothing the criminals would like better than to see the society’s membership decline as a result of bad press.

  • strullu

    Hi am looking forward Don Scott contact someone knows his mail adress ?

    i follow a project of hen harrier’s protection in France and i would like to meet him


    best regards