Second installment: Suppress the Truth by Shooting the Messenger.

Several weeks ago Raptor Politics published their first part of a story titles “Suppress the Truth by Shooting the Messenger”. To read the first part of this two part article follow the attached link. This is the second part of the story which is now beginning to show the other side of this political story.

In the first part of the article published we highlighted a number of instances where licence breaches and poor field practice by a small number of licence holders working in the Forest of Bowland had been passed on to the Government’s Wildlife Advisory Authority Natural England by the NWRPG for investigation. One account detailed the incidental discovery by Mr Kevin Moore, a member of the NWRPG, of a video camera which had been placed alongside a hen harrier nest containing 6 eggs on the United Utilities estate last year. As we now know a Natural England staff member advised Mr Moore and a second raptor group member the RSPB had installed the camera but had not bothered to inform Natural England or any member of the local raptor group before doing so, clearly a breach of licence conditions.

After Mr Moore had taken the time and trouble to report his discovery to Natural England it was then insinuated by NE Mr. Moore’s one minute examination of camera and nest may have causing the hen harrier to desert her 6 eggs. Having acted responsibly by reporting what he had found in the first place, being blamed for something he had not done Mr. Moore was understandably very concerned and upset. Natural England were then asked by Mr Moore to provide to him details of what the video had recorded at the nest immediately after his departure from the area at approximately 9am on the morning of the 2nd May last year. Despite several requests for this detail which Mr Moore was certain would prove he had observed a hen harrier returning to her nest within 15 minutes of his departure from the location, Natural England continued to be very evasive saying the footage recorded was inconclusive.

In early March Terry Pickford was asked by Mr. Moore to make two Freedom of Information requests on his behalf to Natural England for information which so far they had refused to explain or provide to Mr Moore. The first reply received has already been published by Raptor Politics in the first part of the article “Suppress the Truth by Shooting the Messenger.” Raptor Politics has now reprinted Natural England’s first reply along with the second reply received this week providing verification that Mr. Moore had nothing what so ever to do with the failure of the harrier nest and that Natural England may have attempted to conceal this fact all along for political reasons.

The first Freedom of Information reply received relates to a visit made four and a half hours later to the same hen harrier territory by two RSPB volunteers on the afternoon of the same day Mr. Moore located the camera  (2nd May 2010.)  

  1. A pair of harriers was seen making figure of eights over a large field of heather. On closer examination, saw female was tagged red on the right wing. Frequently, they settled for short periods, but as often happens the male suddenly mounted her, (sub adult), lasting seconds, then began preening. At 1.30pm, she stretched her wings and lifted then treated us to a period of nest building, pulling up fine grasses with her talons which lasted nearly half an hour. After which, alighted within thirty yards of nest, a couple of minutes later a female merlin swept over her head causing her to duck. Not long afterwards, proceeded further on our way, climbing over the fence line. Looked back she was still perched.  

The second responce from Natural England under the Freedom of Information request this week is published below and makes very interesting reading indeed when taking into account the time Natural England have provided for the abandonment of the hen harrier nest. The information provided relates to the installation of the camera by the RSPB on 29th April last year and the chain of events following the cameras installation right up until 14:40 hrs on the afternoon of 2nd May 2010 shortly after the departure from the area of the two RSPB volunteers. The detail supplied conclusively proves the harrier nest remained viable up until the end of the visit made to the territory by the two RSPB volunteers on  2nd May last year. We can only speculate the reason why the incubating hen harrier left her nest at 14:40 hrs on the afternoon of  2nd May 2010 in a “disturbed fashion.” One fact is incontrovertible, the reason for the nest’s failure had nothing to do with Mr. Moore’s location of the video camera at this nest site. What a pity it took a Freedom of Information request to uncover this fact, and why were Natural England not prepared to tell the truth from the very beginning we wonder!

The precise date and time when the camera was placed at the hen harrier nest located at xxxx  xxxxx in the Forest of Bowland last year was 29th April 2010 between 11:50 hrs and 12:00 hrs

  1. The number of eggs the nest contained at the time the camera was installed was 5.

  2. The time and date recorded by the camera when any hen harrier was last recorded incubating eggs contained in the nest? The female hen harrier remained incubating for three days after the camera was installed, until 14:40 hrs on 02 May 2010 when the female left the nest in a ‘disturbed fashion’. This is the point at which the nest is deemed to have failed. This, or possibly a different, female harrier was present for two hours the following morning; the eggs had been left unattended for approximately 16 hours at this point (and were no longer deemed viable). The male bird continued to make brief visits to the nest over the next few days.

In view of the information which has now been brought to light, importantly Natural England should do the decent thing by admitting they made a mistake and re-instate licenses they revoked from the NWRPG without just cause in the first place. They should also make suitable apologies not just to Kevin Moore, but also to the NWRPG for their inappropriate actions in taking away their Scientific licenses for use throughout moorland in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland owned by United Utilities.






8 comments to Second installment: Suppress the Truth by Shooting the Messenger.

  • nirofo

    I would be extremely surprised if any apology or redeeming of licences was forthcoming from Natural England, however I am always prepared to be surprised, in which case I would withdraw my scepticism and say well done Natural England and thank you for your unbiased dealing in this matter !!!

    Now RSPB, over to you ???


  • paul williams

    Can i have my license back now to carry on monitoring peregrines and hen harriers in the Forest of Bowland, after all, i have done nothing wrong to have it taken away.

  • Falco subbuteo

    Your crime was exposing the truth about what has been going on in Bowland as regards persecution, you also exposed bad behaviour by so called RSPB expert field workers, the RSPB and Natural England do not like this as it embarrasses them,it shows up their failings in Bowland, such as why after years of being in bowland the number of Hen Harriers have not multiplied, the RSPB volunteers will not expose the persecution because they are far too scared of having their access permits removed which allows them to take their vehicle on UU land to avoid walking.

    • nirofo

      You have hit several nails on the head with one blow, doubt it will knock any sense into them though, they don’t do common sense, not without permission from headquarters that is !!!


    • Nifro

      You have hit several nails on the head with one blow, doubt it will knock any sense into them though, they don’t do common sense, not without permission from headquarters that is !!!


  • Falco Subbuteo, could not have summed up the whole rotten goings on in the Forest of Bowland any better than what he has posted on this website. The cover-ups and lies have now been exposed in Bowland and hit the proverbial fan, with both these waste of space (and time) organisations guilty of doing nothing for Hen Harriers. Let us have the experts (NWRPG) rightly back on Bowland, complete with their permits for 2011 and get these other plonkers removed, post haste, before more cock-ups occur.
    Believe me – it is no ‘circus’ anymore for Hen Harriers in the UK and also in N. Ireland !!

    • Skydancer

      From the lies told by NE blaming someone for causing the failure of a HH nest which now turns out was not true at all, this in my book amounts to gross misconduct, those responsible have a great deal to answer for. Thank goodness fore the Freedom of Information Act. The NWRPG mave have legal grounds to take action for the way they have been treated.

  • paul williams

    Just had an e-mail saying that the RSPB wanted more experienced fieldworkers in Bowland and that is why NWRPG did not get thier license. I Paul Williams challenge the RSPB’s fieldcraft.