Hen Harriers, Langholm moor: Demonstration Project – Seven Year Review December 2014

This year has witnessed another poor report from Langholm blaming raptors for the destruction of adult Red Grouse with no evidence to support this claim at all in the 2014 report. Given the money spent [£3.5million] you would think they would have had evidence by now!! No, the report claims the habitat has been improved so where are the Red Grouse! Certainly the habitat has declined for many species especially waders and Black Grouse.
the forest of bowland 7-1
Red Grouse.
With only a few years of this important upland study left to run future work is planned on other raptor species especially as they could not pin the blame for killing red grouse on the Buzzard! Only 4% of Red Grouse prey remains were found in Buzzards nests being monitored by a camera, but now they want to check pellets in case the camera lied! With no shooting of Red Grouse at Langholm this year you would have thought they would have looked at alternative ways of making money. No, they were not interested in photographic groups using the area to photograph some of the iconic species not killed by the keepers. Red Grouse is the only thing this estate want so that is what they get. Like the first Langholm project the whole scheme is biased towards Red Grouse management. Raptors will be killed after the 10 year project has been completed, just like the illegal killing taking place on the majority of Red Grouse moors.
Hen Harrier
Female Hen Harrier.

10 comments to Hen Harriers, Langholm moor: Demonstration Project – Seven Year Review December 2014

  • Falcoscot

    Problem is they were celebrating the success of this project before it even started and in my opinion became so gung ho at the start they overlooked legal obligations of an impact assessment or a full Environmental Appraisal which is required under SPA legislation. This has left a situation where this project has to work and if the only way out is to blame raptors then I expect that’s what will happen.
    They are so entrenched in their “diversionary feeding” they refuse to look at the option of rearing grouse in captivity and releasing them at an age when they have a much better chance of surviving. If this project had gone to public consultation like it should have done under an Appraisal then they might have more options on the table right now and people around who are more open minded than looking to blame the local raptor population for the demise of driven shooting on Langholm moor.

    • Over the years people have seemingly attempted to capture rear red grouse with no real success. Unlike pheasant rearing which is much more straight forward, young grouse feed mainly upon insects during their early weeks of development.
      Also to maintain their wildness they need to learn things from their parents- ”social learning”. Without this parental interaction they would lack survival skills and would be even more prone to predation, etc.
      However, with regards to Langholm, one of my real concerns out of all of this is continual stalemate: are we just going to sit back for the next 3+ years and wait on the conclusions of Langholm 2 before any progressive moves are even considered or potentially tried out?

  • nirofo

    Why do we tolerate these people, its obvious they have no intention whatever of allowing birds of prey to live alongside their pampered Red Grouse. Its long past the time that these highly commercialised driven grouse shoots were banned totally and the uplands returned to their natural state. This is the only way the habitat and all the wildlife who have a more rightful claim to it will ever be allowed to return.

  • Falcoscot

    Sorry Mike but you’ve been mis-informed, grouse can be reared and released in a similar way as pheasants, it’s been done by a well known Shropshire gamekeeper/game farmer. They just dont want to do it because they say they want to keep it as “wild shooting” and yet on other parts of the Estate they’ve released thousands of partridge in the past on moorland.
    If this project has done one thing so far it’s that Hen Harriers can do well given adequate protection.

  • John Miles

    Amazing how a figure of 78% is used for predation of Red Grouse by raptors but no figure to confirm the real numbers. was it 7.8 Red Grouse were killed out of 10!! No one witnessed a kill!! No one working the moor then in 7 years!! Were the packs on their backs upsetting the natural pose of the birds on the moor! May be the final question has to be – Who allowed this dribble to be written? The RSPB and SNH are both conservation organisations. They would not have allowed this if they were involved with this scheme!! And the answer has to be – they are not.

  • Falcoscot

    Page 39, quote :-“Chick mortality in the first three weeks of life is high;
    radio-tracking of chicks has indicated that predation might be a major cause.”

    Yes, and it MIGHT not be ! Radio tracking chicks and the best they can come up with is “might”. I thought scientists were only interested in FACT ?

  • Falcoscot

    Black grouse aren’t Red grouse Mike, the former are more likely to be predated by Goshawks along forest edges, I know of that happening in the Galloway forests, they also predate kestrels and barn owls.
    What I cant understand is how they can use “might” and “major” in the same sentence when making reference to chick mortality as surely if predation was a “major” issue it would be more evident than “might be”, seems like a contradiction to me. With all the money and man power going into this project I find it unbelieveable that with a species like the Red Grouse and the open habitat they frequent that seven years into this project they are still using words like “MIGHT BE” !

    • Happy New Year Falcoscot, Editor and to all other readers. Perhaps in the final 3 years of this very important study we will get a more definitive cause of this very high grouse chick mortality in their first 3 weeks of life?

  • Falcoscot

    Happy New Year Mike !
    I thought that’s why game birds had evolved to lay large clutches, because of high mortality, dont think that’s ground breaking news, surely !
    Even if raptors are proven to be partly responsible the grouse shooting industry has to accept that the practice of killing raptors is not only illegal, it’s not acceptable to the majority of people in the UK and will have to come up with other solutions to keep grouse numbers at a level required for commercial shooting, such as breeding for release.