Skies Darken for the Skydancer – Article written by Simon Phelps

Simon is a conservationist, wildlife photographer and passionate naturalist. He currently works for the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (views his own) and spends as much of his free time out on nature reserves around the country photographing any wildlife he can find. To follow more of his writing you can follow him on Twitter: @wildlifephelps


In his last article, Simon wrote of the plight facing hen harriers in England, which failed to breed in 2013 for the first time in 57 years. This decline has been attributed by many conservationists to illegal persecution by red grouse shooting estates. In my original article I only scratched the surface, and as I have delved deeper into this murky issue it seems that it is much more complicated than I originally made it out to be. I therefore feel it merits a second article, allowing me to explore this issue in greater depth. You can read Simon’s full article here.

1 comment to Skies Darken for the Skydancer – Article written by Simon Phelps

  • John Miles

    There are several problems with this article. Hen Harriers share the same habitat! Why do all the west coast birds and Orkney nest well away from Red Grouse moors? Even in the 1950’s and 1960’s boom in young forestry showed that Hen Harriers adapted to this forestry with even Montagu’s Harrier breeding in the North of England.

    You can turn the whole article up side down when coming to the management of the Red Grouse moor. If an organisation creates a mono culture what are the predators supposed to feed on! The recent Buzzard report from Langholm showed that the birds fed on the low ground instead of predating Red Grouse. Therefore if the shooting estate wants to keep within the law, they should create habitat away from the moor where harriers are able to feed.

    he majority of these estates are already paid to do this under High level Stewardship but instead tend to employ more keepers to kill ‘vermin’!! So to answer Simon’s question about the conflict the estates know the answers but prefer to kill Hen Harriers not use the public money to benefit the food supply for birds of prey in general.