Hawes water is always thought of as the home for a single male Golden Eagle but is this bird about to have new neighbours? The RSPB have just taken over the tenancy of two farms on the Hawes Water estate near Shap in the west of Cumbria owned by United Utilities, bringing over 7200 acres under their management. This has come about due to the water company concerns about the water quality in the Hawes water reservoir deteriorating. The company would have to spend £millions on treating what should be clean water. United Utilities spent £7.1 million improving filtration at the small water treatment plant at Castle Carrock Reservoir near Carlisle a few years ago, so add a few extra 0’s onto the sum for 90 million gallons of treated water a day from Hawes Water.
View of Harter Fell in the distance, Cumbria’s first nesting site of Golden Eagles in over 200 Years, Riggindale can be seen to the extreme right.
The whole of the Lake District is suffering from this same mismanagement which often boils down to over grazing. As we have just seen with the south of England crying out for water, new management at Haws Water can only be good for the land and millions of people that depend on the treated water.
RSPB management will also benefit wildlife as the over grazing was the main cause for the reduction of Hen Harriers in Orkney, currently up to 100 pairs thanks to very reduced numbers of sheep. With new plantations to stop erosion of soil into the reservoir and fewer sheep grazing the grassland allowing more tussock grass to flourish vole numbers are set to rise. Add on the work on peat bogs, new wetlands and heather moorland and you will have a recipe for suitable Hen Harrier habitat.
Eagle spotters at Haweswater, for many years only a single male eagle has held territory here.
The former village or Mardale was flooded many years ago to create a reservoir
to supply drinking water to Manchester
The nearest Red Grouse moor will be Shap a few miles to the east, where the Golden Eagle regularly hunts but given the expansion on Hawes Water the food will increase nearer home. Deer numbers will have to be reduced and rabbits and hares are already taken out by the eagle. So if the RSPB can do it why can the National Trust not do it owning 1/3 of the Lake District but depending on tenant farmers not their own management. The RSPB are to gain £200,000 – 300,000 directly from United Utilities and up to £100,000 per year from High level Stewardship to manage the land also.
Again it just points out that land management is far more important for a majority of people not for a few individuals that want to shoot Red Grouse. With the right management we could be seeing a new population of Hen Harriers in Cumbria as well as [dare I say it] a new female Golden Eagle!!