The story of Gordon the moron [ alias Bonny the Geltsdale Hen Harrier ] and his time on this planet

Sadly by 14th December on the Knarsdale Estate Gordon went missing. Despite a search for a body and valuable transmitter Bonny was not found, where if the bird had died of natural causes the body would have been found as seen from other harriers that have done just that! So this will go down as another Hen Harrier lost on Knarsdale!


Diversionary feeding stations installed on the Geltsdale reserve last year. The Geltsdale Harrier nest was one of only 3 recorded Hen Harrier nests in the whole of England last year.

What is more amazing the Knarsdale estate is now owned by a Mr Louis Bacon a $ billionare who gives generously to conservation causes in the USA –  . So on the one hand Mr Bacon wants to see our planet keep wild areas full of wildlife, but when it comes to shooting he seemingly doesn’t give a toss! He also owns Robin Island in New York where he holds a big pheasant shoot. What is killed there to keep these non native pheasants alive so he and his guests can shoot them!

Louis Bacon is a personal hero of mine in conservation’ said the US Secretary of Interior  – Ken Salazar!

Only on the 27th December this was the headline on his web site – Fire and the Longleaf Pines of the Southern US: A Bright Future for a Magical Forest.  The article quotes – With the help of Louis Bacon’s Orton Foundation, we are just beginning?  – What? – to kill birds of prey so we can enjoy killing Red Grouse!

This was the headline on 5th December – How a San Luis Valley club is helping youth connect to their local environment and impact the future of conservation

So what is the difference between USA and Britain?

Are we just the playground for the rich where conservation of species does not matter?

All this killing of key species is also killing the chance of wildlife tourism being a major industry in the South Tyne Valley.

If anyone can get to this man surely Gordon’s death can not be justified regardless how much money you are worth!

5 comments to The story of Gordon the moron [ alias Bonny the Geltsdale Hen Harrier ] and his time on this planet

  • When did Louis Bacon take over Knarsdale shoot? Is the price he paid for it known? I suspect it is the keepers’ practice to hide the tracked carcasses deep in a rabbit hole, to deaden the signal. Perhaps by now they’ve learned to destroy them.

    There’s been some drainage works carried out, at the headlands of the Knar Burn, but perhaps it was on the former shooting owner’s watch. These works show up well on GoogleEarth. The recent estate roads were built without Planning Permission and damaged ancient sites, with the compliance of E.N., as it then was, N.C.C. and North Pennines A.O.N.B.

  • I think it was around 3 years ago. The asking price was £10 million and it was either £11 or £12 million paid. Some one claimed that 8000+ brace [16,000+] Red Grouse were shot in 2016! I used to know every Peregrine site on here as well as Merlin. Bumped into Geoff Macfarland one day. He used to do it for the Northumberland RSG before he passed away. Some great Alpine plants if they have not been destroyed!

  • I worked in the Knar valley as a traditional drystone waller for more than twenty years. I used to know one of the trustees of the original owners of the shooting estate. This gave me a kind of immunity and right to roam. The shoot was first leased out and then sold and the new keepers persecuted me considerably. The heather had been superbly looked after by the old keeper and this maintained the numerous grouse. Many times I’d be closing the gap in a wall during a shoot, with butts above and below me, and I would generally sit back and drink tea until they moved on. I’ve a few photographs of the shoot but nothing outstanding. Birds of prey were considerably attracted by the plump grouse and the new keepers shot all of them without exception, behind my back and when I was away. I invited the wildlife P.C. to be my barrowman several times but he never tried it.

    I slowly discovered that prehistoric people mined copper at the Knar, probably from the late Neolithic Era onward, and have left the remains of their ancient workings as well as stupendous monuments. Unfortunately these fells – England’s Last Wilderness – are too far from the road for modern archaeologists to reach. (They would realistically need the shooters’ ATVs to get up there). The keepers treat the ancient monuments just as they do stoats and foxes as they are alternative attractions for urbanites who would disturb the birds. I’ve many photographs and observations of the sites but have been poorly with arthritis and am only now, years after leaving the field, that I’m beginning to promote them again.

    The great problem with the heather fells is that it’s only the keepers who understand the burning regime. That old keeper I mentioned had a thirty year cycle which allowed thigh high bushes, in places. You never see that now and the five or seven year rotation came in with the new managers, which was late in Knarsdale. The overgrown heather offered cover for wildlife, not just grouse, and the keeper was then less bothered with eliminating every predator.

  • Another one with effects of Lyme Disease!! How many more as there are no signs to warn you on these moors! You mean John Parkinson?

  • Urban hedgehogs often carry a lot of tics. I’ve never been bitten but had strongylites for several years, until I learnt to avoid them, and often found bad water at the height of summer. The sheepdips in the 80s had chemicals that killed everything, of course, including the river invertebrates! The tics congregated on the land of poor shepherds perhaps. At the moment the archaeological history is in great peril as there is just one person who knows where it is. It is rooted in the ground, is vulnerable to bulldozer/digger, and is our common heritage. The county/AONB/police/DEFRA/voluntary groups are all swayed by big money and useless.