The Silent Spring continues across the Forest of Bowland

This is our second update this spring, and frankly this is one of the most appalling seasons for our moorland raptors we have experienced in a long long time, and the situation has all the characteristics of deteriorating much further.

Dodo

Over the weekend 28/29 April members of the NWRPG visited 4 red grouse moors in Bowland, in addition to the moors visited last week and the week before. The situation for the hen harrier looks extremely dire, with no nesting pairs so far being reported on any of the moorland we have visited and examined. Not only that, sightings of harriers anywhere in Bowland this season are at a critical level, being restricted as far as we are aware to just 3 individual unpaired birds. Throughout this period the weather on the tops of the moors remains cold for this time of year, resulting in far fewer migrants seen this spring.

We have already mentioned in an earlier update the critical absence of raptors recorded generally throughout the Forest of Bowland this spring, which is of concern. These absences appear to point to species like peregrine and hen harrier being systematically targeted and taken out (killed) before being able to establish breeding territories on our heather uplands where red grouse are shot. It also seem plausible many hen harriers are being removed while on migration when they are known to fly great distances between other grouse moors each autumn right through into the following spring. What is perhaps more alarming, sightings of the hen harrier and peregrine on moorland used to shoot red grouse are becoming less frequent with each spring that comes and goes, and unfortunately there is very little being done to counter this tragic situation.

Roeburndale-Valley-web

The beauty of the Forest of Bowland hides a dark secret 

The two resident nesting pairs of Bowland peregrine’s are still known to be incubating their clutches of eggs. The nesting pair of raven as of this weekend were still feeding their brood of 5 chicks which are about to fledge. However on Sunday a new raven nest completely built up was located deserted. Whatever had been contained in this second nest was no longer there, and the pair of adult raven were conspicuous by their absence.

Peregrine Cliff Destroyed 2015-1

Destroyed Peregrine nesting site, one of seven such sites throughout the Forest of Bowland

It was gratifying to discover this weekend the crow trap positioned by a gamekeeper less than 100 metres directly opposite a traditional peregrine nest site located on the United Utilities estate has now been removed. This seeming happened after our video of the trap was exposed on Twitter, Facebook and on Raptor Politics. The question is, why was the estate gamekeeper allowed to install this trap overlooking the peregrine nest site in the first place? Importantly, why did no one within UU estate management raise this matter after the trap had been erected?

Long Clough 2-1

Destroyed Peregrine nest site located in middle of grouse moor, this site together with other territories are now being forcibly vacated and abandoned.

2 comments to The Silent Spring continues across the Forest of Bowland

  • John Miles

    It would be interesting to see what effect management is having on Merlins? The paper from Scotland showed a massive fall in numbers due to management.

  • Phil Lanczak

    Wildlife criminality carried out with wanton disregard for the penalties because historically these crimes go unpunished !! Utterly disgusting.