The mystery of the missing hen harriers by Patrick Barkham

Writing in today’s (13-01-2015) Guardian Patrick Barkham highlights the mystery of the missing hen harriers. You can read here the full text of that story.

Last spring, when walkers on the Lancashire moors came upon two hen harrier nests, they alerted local conservationists. Not because these powerful birds of prey represented a danger to wildlife, but because the harriers themselves are under threat. When they got the call, staff and members of the RSPB, helped by local volunteers, set up a 24-hour watch to protect the nests. Over the summer, under the gaze of their guardians, the harriers raised nine chicks, four of which were named by local schoolchildren: Sky, Hope, Highlander and Burt. By late summer, as they prepared to leave the nests, the fledglings were fitted with satellite tags so their movements could be monitored.

Hen Harrier

The Hen Harrier.  In the late 1960’s there were at least forty breeding pairs resident in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, Today because of  persecution the species is on the brink of extinction in England.

The Forest of Bowland, a striking landscape of boggy, open upland carpeted with heather and bracken, is home to some of the last breeding pairs of hen harriers in England. A male hen harrier’s silhouette gliding low over the moorland is an eerie sight greatly prized by bird lovers, but the bird is best known for its aerobatic displays of climbing, twisting and rolling, known as sky dancing. Like other birds of prey, the harrier has been protected by law since 1954, but while buzzards and peregrine falcons have recovered their numbers, in England, hen harriers are now close to extinction.

3 comments to The mystery of the missing hen harriers by Patrick Barkham

  • John Miles

    Walkers finding 2 nests!!!

  • Kevin moore

    The “walkers”must have been well off the footpath,some coincidence to stumble across 2 out of the 4 hen harrier nests in England in one day

  • paul williams

    Why were they not reported to the police for nest disturbance ??? Or do the RSPB bend the rules to fit?

    Editor’s Comment. Obviously we will never be told the truth, but it does seem strange that walkers could just stumble upon two occupied hen harrier nests some 2 miles apart. Of course they could have located both nests from a distance using a telescope or binoculars, but then they would not have known what each nest contained unless they visited both nests to check????