The Skydancing begins, but how will it all end asks one of our supporters?

The following information and videos were sent to us by one of our supporters this evening after he had experienced the high and lows of what the Forest of Bowland has to offer. These are his words describing the unfolding events of today.

This morning I count myself privileged  to have been in the right spot at the right time, on two occasion, one good one bad. I began my walk at around 9am tracking off the footpath across the top of what can only be described as a rather remote part of the Forest of Bowland. In the 2 hours I had been traversing the moor I never saw a sole, nor for that matter did I see many birds other than red grouse and pheasants, but what I did spot of immense interest was better than winning the lottery. High above me in a clear blue sky I saw the silhouette of a grey ghost, a male hen harrier skydancing as though he didn’t have a single care in the world; to say I was blown away is an understatement, this was my lucky morning. I reminded myself of just how fragile these birds of prey are, and wondered how on earth could anyone take the life of such a magnificent creature? Sitting down amongst the heather, with binoculars to hand, I spent the next hour or so admiring the aerial spectacle unfolding above my own panoramic moorland stage. I quickly become totally engrossed in the harriers spell binding flight maneuvers, climbing up to 500 feet or more in the blink of an eye before almost turning upside down spiralling downwards, at times missing the heather by just a few yards. As the flights continued with more urgency and determination I forgot entirely about the lunch my wife had packed into my rucksack before I left home. I was aware the hen harrier had suffered very badly in Bowland last year and therefore never expected to see what I came across today, I count myself amongst one of the lucky few. It was difficult for me to leave my own private theatre, but as I still had a long way to go, very reluctantly I decided to cross the watershed onto the adjoining estate on the last leg of my walk to where I had parked my car earlier this morning.

Driving back home this afternoon I decided on a detour in the hope of perhaps being lucky a second time in one day. Would my luck last, possibly seeing a peregrine or short-eared owl showing on moorland an ornithologist friend had told me these two species had until recently both been known to bred.

On reaching the crest of the hill overlooked the area of moorland I was on my way to visit my mood quickly turned to utter despair and anger. The heather moor had been set on fire turning into an inferno by local gamekeepers. Incidentally, burning heather at this time of the year, despite the fact many birds of prey including peregrine, hen harrier and short-eared owls are already beginning to settle within their territories to breed – remains legal. Using this loophole shooting estates are able to discourage legally protected species from breeding, an immoral tactic I am advised is used extensively on grouse moors throughout most parts of northern England.


In my video below and the one above I managed to capture the dense smoke engulfing completely the stream gully in the top right of the image (above the two estate landrovers, although both vehicles may be difficult to spot because of the smoke), until recently used by a pair of peregrines to raise their chicks. Would any of your supporters choose this location to raise their family in similar circumstances? What a day, how can activities like this be allowed to continue, very soon there will be no hen harriers and fewer peregrines in Bowland left to protect.



9 comments to The Skydancing begins, but how will it all end asks one of our supporters?

  • Skydancer

    Just in time for prospecting harriers peregrines and short eared owls to be in the area , all in the name of conservation apparently or so they like to make us believe , what chance have these beautiful raptors got with this going on ?

    Editor’s Comment. Those responsible know full well no one will stop them, they are untouchable. The welfare of our so called protected raptors are in the hands of corrupt politicians working on behalf of their financial supporters.

  • Just watch these videos of Bowland today and tell me that there is any hope for our raptors as long as shooting continues.
    Are the RSPB aware of this? I think they are and stand by to let it happen, protecting our birds my ass.
    I am filled with sadness and outrage that these people have such little regard for any wildlife and have killed and burnt alive so many wild creatures all in the so called name of sport.

    • Skydancer

      Chrissie the rspb would not dare to try and stop this burning especially on the estate where it looks like it was filmed, Martin Harper the ceo of the rspb has stated that he does not support a ban on driven grouse shooting, and the rspb warden for bowland can often be seen chatting to the local gamekeepers so how committed are they to protecting raptors in the area ?

  • Hybrid

    I can understand that they may have to do this, for their own reasons (yeah right) but why do they choose to do this practice now, at this time of year. Aside from the nigh on extinct BOP in the area and other wildlife, I could well imagine an unsuspecting and possibly older hiker, getting caught out too, if the wind were to change direction and the heather inferno spread out of hand. As for the Welcome to Forest of Bowland signs, realistically, the Hen Harrier needs removing and replacing with a portrait of a Gamekeeper or some random toff with his shotgun! #SportMyArse

  • Hybrid

    Chrissie, I just noticed your post and the thought of smaller animals and other living creatures being burned alive is horrific! I have already seen lambs and spring has come early. The whole eco’ system of the area and the food chain is effectively ignored, just so those twats (sorry guys) can blast defenceless, plump, barely able to fly, colourful and noisy birds out of the lower skyline with many of them being hurled upwards by the next generation to blast at anything that moves, sadly including any Passing raptors. #SportMyArse

  • Julie Wright

    Is it illegal to burn heather at this rim of year? if so then it needs reporting. There is video evidence that will be time stamped.

  • Tim Sarney

    How ironic is this – an award for Hen Harrier conservation from the BBC Countryfile!

    What about the 5 male harriers which “disappeared” while away from their nests hunting food under the RSPB’s watch last year, what about the approximately 25 Hen Harrier eggs which were abandoned after the males failed to return to their nests, a disgraceful one out of seven successful nesting attempts in Bowland. How can this be deemed a wildlife success?

    Have the RSPB prosecuted anyone yet? What about the sat tagged harriers which disappeared the previous season? They know full well which estate the male Harriers disappeared on.

    I have just been in NE India and saw various Harriers including Hen Harrier, and Peregrine amongst many raptor species. Why can’t I see these UK species in Bowland where I live? No gamekeepers or grouse shooting in NE India of course!

  • Peter Woodruff

    Listen up….The RSPB sit on the fence on everything connected with Hen Harrier persecution, they are bound by an outdated royal charter and DO NOT get involved. Our very dear Mr Avery is opening his third petition to ‘Ban Driven Grouse Shooting’ which will fail just as the last two have, and miserably at that. But, all the RSPB have to do is muster their million plus members to sign this petition, but there’ll be be assured not a peep from them.