RSPB publish last know locations of Sky and Hope the two missing Bowland Hen Harriers

At last the public have been told where the missing two Bowland Hen Harriers went missing after fledging from their natal territories on the United Utilities estate. It appears the two harriers only managed to fly across onto the next adjoining two moorland estates before they both vanished off the radar.

 Here are the facts:

Sky’s last transmission was at 7.33pm on Wednesday 10 September, 2014 around Summersgill Fell, west of Thrush Gill, in the Forest of Bowland.

Hope’s last transmission was at 10.51am on the Saturday 13 September around Mallowdale Pike, also in the Forest of Bowland.

What is very significant both separate estates have a history of disappearing raptors; the Trush Gill and Greenbank Fell area have witnessed the disappearance of nesting goshawks and the consistent loss of a clutch of peregrine eggs from one territory for the last two seasons.

Green Burn-1

Looking across Green Bank Fell and in the distance Trush Gill Plantation. Skye disappeared at the back of Trush Gill Plantation in the distance. Raptors do not last long in this regions for some curious reason.

Long Clough June 2013-1

Complete clutch of peregrine eggs disappeared from this 2013 nest scrape on this estate.

Long Clough empty nest June 2014-1

Same nesting territory failed in 2014 on same estate after second clutch of  peregrine eggs disappeared from nesting scrape

The last time the Mallowdale peregrine territory was productive was in 2010 when two chicks were produced, before that it was in 1997 when a single female chick fledged successfully.  Historically rocks and boulders had been recovered from nesting ledges placed into active nests to prevent breeding taking place at Mallowdale. Over the years numerous completed clutches of eggs have been found at this territory contained in abandoned nesting scrapes. The number of adult breeding Peregrines which continue to mysteriously disappear without trace from the Mallowdale territory each spring is alarming.


Mallowdale Pike middle centre,  taken from Gallows Hill. This is the remote moorland where Hope vanished from the radar. At Mallowdale Pike  peregrines have attempted to breed almost each year during the last twenty years with only two successes.

Under normal circumstances, Mallowdale’s remote and isolated location should provide a safe haven for breeding peregrines along with other raptors, including hen harriers where in the mid 1980’s at least two breeding pairs were always resident.

The last successful breeding attempt by peregrines at Mallowdale Pike was in 2010. Two chicks were reared after the resident gamekeeper left the estate in December 2009 to take up a new post elsewhere. Importantly, because the replacement gamekeeper was unable to take up his new post until late in the following summer, breeding peregrines were given breathing space to rear their brood for the first time since 1973 in complete safety. However not a single nesting attempt by peregrines has been successful at this remote location ever since.

Mallowdale peregrine 2010-1

A rare image showing the two peregrine chicks contained in their nest at Mallowdale Pike in 2010. Both chicks fledged successfully because no resident gamekeepers were present on the estate at a critical point in time.

Well done the RSPB for making this important information available for public scrutiny at last. When will Natural England have the courage to do the same?

It is important to highlight one critical point. Both estates where Hope & Sky disappeared adjoin moorland owned by United Utilities estate where the lost harriers were hatched and reared. The distance from where both hen harriers fledged to where they then each vanished  is less that 4 miles.  


Here is the all important map showing us the moorland where Hope and Sky went missing after their transmitters stopped working. The blue squares show the final satellite tag transmissions of Hope (left) and Sky (right). For further details of these sites please read the RSPB’s Skydancer blog here.

HH map jpeg.jpg-550x0

Updated map supplied by the RSPB this afternoon

Additional Information regarding the loss of one of the Langholm tagged Hen Harriers.

We have just learned that one of the many Hen Harriers that fledged successfully from Langolm this year is now also reported missing. Sid was satellite-tagged in July and after fledging was tracked in Yorkshire on moorland close to Hawes. The question must be asked how many of this years the un-tagged Hen Harriers are still alive? We will never know the answer to that question will we? You are able to follow Sids movements this summer on the Making the Most of Moorlands.


7 comments to RSPB publish last know locations of Sky and Hope the two missing Bowland Hen Harriers

  • Arnie Fisher

    I saw the post on the RSPB Skydancer’s page this morning but it seems to have now disappeared? Or maybe it’s just me?

    This was the tweet:
    RSPB Skydancer (@RSPB_Skydancer)
    08/10/2014 10:50
    Last known locations of missing hen harriers

    Editor’s Comment. Thanks Arnie, all very curious but interesting. Let us know if the detail reappears please?

  • Arnie Fisher

    Looks like it’s back – but with a slightly different version of the map.

  • Macaris

    Do we know who owns the estates where Hope and Sky “disappeared”? Would naming and shaming be helpful or counter-productive?

  • Julie Wright

    The only way these birds will evade extinction in England is to ban driven grouse shooting. Licensing isn’t going to work as they will still illegally kill raptors & other predators that threaten grouse. Moving HH chicks isn’t going to work because they will go back to the place where they were fledged to breed. If a bird can navigate over 3000 miles to Africa I’m sure it can find it’s way back to Lancashire. As we all know Driven Grouse Shooting isn’t making as much money as they say and the hand outs they get are immense & we the public are paying for the priveledge of the shooting fraternity to kill our wildlife & ruin the landscape & as much as the GWA & Moorland Assocation keep defending it, we are going to fight to see justice for all the wildlife that has died for the sake of a rich mans sport.

  • Mark Rasbeary

    If licensed, at least the Estates will have to physically show they have a diversity of “breeding” species.
    This will include Raptors such as HH and Peregrine, along with the more usual Plovers and Curlew.
    If no Raptors, no licence.
    It would be dependent on positive regulation by the Government agencies, not the shooting industry itself.
    I’m not saying this is a big fix but it is better than nothing at all.
    The campaign for an end to Grouse shooting is a long term project, we need an interim solution, for me licensing is one such thing.

  • Colin Smirh

    its time both the landowners and gamekeepers are held accountable when protected species are slaughtered just to protect there game birds so there stuck up clients have a few more birds to shoot. Wonder how these rich landowners would like a spell in prison.

    Editor’s Comment. Colin it is very unlikely anything will be done at either of the sites where the Hen Harriers disappeared. Over the last two decades many protected nesting birds of prey, including peregrine, goshawk and buzzard have all vanished during the breeding season at these two locations. Destroyed nesting sites from both estates have been displayed on this site year after year and no one comes to investigate, or for that matter contacts the editor to find out more. Because of this the killing will continue at both locations.

  • paul williams

    When a gamekeeper commits armed trespass and is reported for being seen with a loaded gun under a peregrine eyrie, and the breaching of schedule 1 license is reported…nothing happens!