RSPB announce new campaign to protect hen harrier in England.

The hen harrier’s last remaining core breeding area in England is located in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland on just one of the regions sporting estates. Sadly the hen harrier ,also known as the Skydancer, has now been reduced to just 4 successful breeding pairs following many years of systematic persecution on red grouse moors in Northern England. The hen harrier well-known for its spectacular courtship aerobatics at the beginning of each breeding season is also regarded by many as England’s most threatened bird of prey, now teetering on the verge of extinction.

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Absent from 99 % of Red Grouse moors, the hen harrier is now officially England most endangered bird of prey.  

Now, in a fresh bid to highlight the harrier’s predicament throughout England’s heather uplands, the RSPB has recruited a community engagement professional to inspire local people about the hen harrier and the current situation the harrier is now facing. We can only hope that this important project, unlike many others which have gone before, leads to something more promising otherwise it may be too late to reverse the present down trend  of this iconic moorland species.

Blánaid Denman has been appointed “Skydancer Engagement Officer” as part of the conservation organisation’s new project, Skydancer, to protect and promote the conservation of hen harriers across their breeding areas in Northern England.

A recent government-commissioned report, the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework, estimates there is enough suitable habitat in the English uplands to support more than 300 breeding pairs, but illegal killing and disturbance has kept numbers perilously low.

Over four years, the Skydancer campaign will focus on nest protection and community engagement activities around the Forest of Bowland, RSPB Geltsdale and North Tynedale, Northumberland. Let us all hope things begin to change for the better as soon as possible.

The full story published today can be followed here.

18 comments to RSPB announce new campaign to protect hen harrier in England.

  • fellwalker

    The decline in HH in bowland as been going on for at least 20years, something should have been done well before now!! I hope i am wrong but i think its too late, the other bop will end up in the same situation, the abscence of the majority of peregrines this year in my opinion is a sign of things to come……….

  • harrier man

    Hope there are nests to protect, unfortunately i fear not.

  • nirofo

    The Hen Harriers, in fact all our Raptors deserve a better future than they can look forward to at the present, lets hope Blánaid Denman is able to re-establish the cooperation of the NWRPG in her unenviable task of “highlighting the harrier’s predicament throughout England’s heather uplands”. Hopefully she will be reclaiming the ground lost during the recent shenanigans instigated by the RSPB and others !!!

    • Frank Melling

      We must all hope those involved in the protection of harrier nests from now on do a much better job than their counterparts in the Goyt valley Derbyshire, where despite denials to the contrary the 2011 harrier nest there was destroyed after the eggs were smashed in the nest and the incubating female most likely shot.

      Foxes had nothing what so ever to do with the loss and destruction of this nest. Those people involved at the sharp end know this of course but because of the cover up instigated by United Utilities everyone is too afraid or have been warned not to tell the truth once again.

      I feel very sorry for the NWRG and what Natural England did was a Disaster.

      If the harrier is going to have any chance at all it will be vital to begin by telling the truth and not covering up what is really going on to preserve political relationships with the shooting fraternity.

  • John Miles

    Having been privileged to watch up to 2 Hen Harriers from my window in the last two weeks. Sometimes up to 35 minutes at a time! I feel sick that these birds could already be dead. The cost of shooting compared to the so called money it is supposed to make is dreadfully one sided in favour of the Hen Harrier itself. The uplands especially, have been destroyed by shooting not the other way round.

  • paul williams

    Have the BTO released data on how many successful nesting Peregrine Falcons there were for the Forest of Bowland in 2011.I would just like to compare their scientific data with the data I have gathered this year.

  • Not a cat in hells chance of working. The criminals know they are not going to be caught so they will continue as they always have.The law doesn’t suit them and breaking the law doesn’t have any consequences. They don’t give a dot about public opinion. English hen harriers R.I.P.

    • Skydancer

      What is very noteworthy each year here in Bowland the RSPB appoint a new and different professional person to monitor protect or over-see, one hen harrier project after another on the United Utilities estates. What is not being made clear is these people don’t know one end of a hen harrier from the other, and yet they still receive a Natural England licence! From a legal stand point as the appointed individuals are paid a salary, before he or she is allowed to enter ANY private estate to carry out this work, access permission from the estate will be required. Any paid licensed individual found trespassing disturbing hen harrier at or near a nest without permission would be committing a criminal offence. If this initiate is going to have any chance of success, as estates generally would not welcome any RSPB employee onto their estates, can someone explain how nesting harriers (if any exist) would be monitored and protected on the bulk of England’s uplands where landowner’s consent is likely to be with held?

  • che

    Will the newly appointed Blanaid Denman be consulting with the NWRPG for their professional advice on how to protect the Hen Harriers?

  • nirofo

    Under the normal Schedule One licensing rules it is required for anyone being issued with a licence to disturb birds at the nest to have proven experience with the species applied for, or to be a named as an assistant on a experienced licence holders licence. I wonder, does Blánaid Denman have the necessary experience of working with nesting Hen Harriers(which I doubt), in order for her to be issued with her own licence or will she be an assistant. If she is to be an assistant under the rules, I wonder who the lucky licence holder will be who she will be assisting. Or what is most likely, will the rules be bent to allow her to have her own licence issued ???

    • Skydancer

      As far as I am aware the RSPB are permitted to issue disturbance licenses for their staff by Natural England working on the United Utilities and Geltsdale estates only.. It seems that now when RSPB licensed staff cross estate boundaries to monitor and visit nests on other estates they are doing so as a private person despite being provided with free RSPB transport to travel from one area to another. What is not clear, are these individuals using the RSPB licence to visit nests on private estates when boundaries are crossed, or are they provided with a second permit to visit nests as a private person? Importantly, when visiting nests as a private person outside the remit of RSPB jurisdiction, who receives the data these individuals gather as a private person? Is the financial funding they receive for petrol given back to the RSPB after working in the field as a private individual I wonder?

  • With regards to this new appointment and the harrier, is there any chance that all those interested in the welfare of this raptor putting their differences aside and working progressively together towards a hopeful better future for this magnificent raptor.

    Lets face it this could possibly be its last chance.

  • There’s no future for hen harriers in England unless those persecuting them stop & that’s not going to happen unless those criminals are prosecuted. There’s no escaping from those facts.Not an iota will change. Thats the stark realization everyone should grasp. HH RIP.

    • Andrew

      I am sure that what Dave is saying is correct. Look at all the hundreds of thousands of tax payer’s pounds spent by Natural England promoting their Hen Harrier Recovery project.. Less HH now than when this doomed initiative started over a decade ago.

  • che

    Skydancer, you may well ask they have the Landowners permission, I doubt it very much?

  • che

    Andrew, yes my friend you are absolutely right, If you want to turn your gold into lead give the job to an inept government agency using hard working tax payers money.

  • clark

    There has been a sighting of a hen harrier in the burnage area of manchester

  • Martin Smith

    This morning between 8 and 9 I observed a bird of prey sat on a street lamp near Angel Meadow, behind Rochdale Rd Manchester.

    My first thought was that it was a large crow, but on closer approach I realised the beak was the wrong shape and the plumage was dark brown, (admittedly poor light.) As it flew away, I noticed a white patch near the tail. I later confirmed these markings when I saw it again.

    It was too big to be a crow, and too small to be a buzzard. Have I seen a dark hued Hen Harrier , or (as seems more likely) a young dark variant Buzzard