Saving the hen harrier is a serious business says Simon Barnes in todays Times.

Simon BarnesSimon Barnes
The two paragraphs below were written by Simon Barnes and published in todays Times. Each relating to the hen harrier stakeholder groups and their discussions in London where they are attempting to find a way forward to return the hen harrier to England. To read Simon’s full article you will need to purchase or subscribe to todays Times. Below is our short summery.
We’ll deal with it after Christmas. You do that? If you have a difficult, dirty, time-consuming task in front of you, one you know requires endless trouble from yourself and will cause even more trouble elsewhere, the only thing to do is to make a really firm, strong, stand-up-and-be-counted decision and say: “Yes! Absolutely! And I’ll do it after Christmas.”

Clearing the cellar. Sorting out your finances. Making a decision about moving house. Painting the bathroom. Changing your life. All can be dealt with by the same ultra-confident statement. There is only one flaw.

Simon Barn’s article published in today’s Times (14 December 2013), is all about the stakeholder groups set up by the government to do something about the current plight of the Hen Harrier [No North West Raptor Protection Group included!!].

The historical comment is mentioned, that the English uplands could hold up to 342 pairs and now there are none!! Simon claims they would nest on [RED] Grouse moors managed for shooting but he stops, allowing the reader to work out what happens to the harriers but not mentioning why to the majority of Birds of Prey on these moors disappear!! Then he seems to think the stakeholders [which he does not say includes the very people doing the killing!] will debate the matter using the word ‘extinct’.

But then Simon Barnes gets it all wrong, suggesting the harriers start making territories after Xmas, when he should say March and April when life begin to return to these moors, like the harriers themselves. What he is trying to say is that the stakeholders don’t have much time to make a decision before the birds return to England’s northern uplands for the 2014 breeding season. Does the government take it seriously given the one million membership of the RSPB, and here he is suggesting that votes are at stake at the next election.

Really out of the question, Simon then goes onto say that a reintroduction of the Hen Harrier has been suggested for the South of England where there are no Red Grouse Moors!! Which loony suggested that!! Have they not looked at the ‘live’ tagged birds and seen how far they can travel, even travelling as far as Spain. And would most of them not return to our northern uplands, suffering the same sad end as the majority of harriers before them, being blown out of the sky by a shot-gun?

One question asks ‘Who do the birds belong to’! As if birds did not have their freedom and were brought into this world to be owned by the big land owner who shoots them any way. Bowland Betty is mentioned in this very same way and may be the answer will now come after Xmas ( decision by the stakeholders).

What ever the outcome of this stakeholder meeting may be, ‘don’t hold your breath would be our advice.


8 comments to Saving the hen harrier is a serious business says Simon Barnes in todays Times.

  • nirofo

    Who’s side is this guy on, no wonder our Raptors are in such dire straights ???

  • Why do you spend so much time berating people who really do care passionately about the future of birds of prey. Simon Barnes is a champion of birds of prey and has spend years pushing the cause. Please can we chat as there is also an issue with your use of the word holocaust in your peregrines in Bowland blog, superb footage, crap use of language. This is not a helpful word. Surely we should be working together to stop the appalling slaughter on our uplands and beyond. My phone number is 07881 657 944 if you want to chat.

    • nirofo

      Maybe Simon would like to publish the full article here where we could all make an educated judgement on whether his words were helpful or not, I certainly don’t think a fee of £50 to the Times to download the full article is justified and I’m sure many on this blog would be pleased to see the full read.

      I don’t have any reason to doubt that Simon Barnes is a champion of birds of prey as you put it, however when it comes to fighting the battle against the shooting estate owners and their gamekeepers you need to be sure you have clued up on your repertoire in order to play the game and stay in the same league with them.

  • John Miles

    I am sure ‘nirofo’ will reply to you as it is himself who is asking the question regarding Simon Barnes. I have read most of his stuff and know whose side Simon is on. May be you could get him to write some thing on my children’s books as the third one is on peregrines in London. I have a policy of not phoning mobile numbers especially if I do not know who is on the other end!

  • Tony Phillips

    I would agree with your comments about the reintroduction of hen harriers into southern England. Perfectly feasible of course, indeed there is no reason why they would not breed in cereal fields as they do in other countries. I believe at one time they were common around the UK. But it is far too early to attempt this. The RSPB spend a lot of time and money each year protecting the nests of Montagu’s harriers, but they cannot protect the young on their wanderings when they leave the nest. How many of these birds should be nesting in the UK?
    The poor results shown by the red kite reintroduction in Scotland can only strengthen the argument against anymore reintroductions of raptors. We should not be releasing birds into the killing fields of the UK. The time. money and effort put into reintroductions would be far better spent fighting to end raptor persecution. It may well be that then recolonisation will occur naturally. That would be something!

    Editor’s Comment. Excellent Comments Tony, thank you.

    • nirofo

      You’re right, we need to put a stop to the out of control Raptor persecution before we can even contemplate any introductions of Hen Harriers. Any release before this happens would be like offering the shooting estates gamekeepers a free clay pigeon shoot, all they would need to do is supply the cartridges !!!

      In any case, the results of the RSPB’s mishandling and dismal failure of Raptor protection on the Bowland estates doesn’t instil you with much confidence that they would perform any better elsewhere, especially as they seem unable to grasp the fact that they need to use the expertise of experienced Raptor workers whenever possible.

  • paul williams

    The RSPB would rather spend there time harassing and trying to prosecute expert raptor workers, rather than prosecuting expert gamekeepers.

  • paul williams

    East Lancashire poaching alert after horrific dead deer discovery
    WILDLIFE champions have reacted with shock after a butchered deer carcass was discovered in a field.