No good news re: Forest of Bowland raptors

Terry-Pickford-ringing-4-peSorry for the delay in posting my latest update, I have been taking a few days away getting a well deserved rest.

Not good news I am sorry to announce. So far we have been able to establish there are no breeding Hen Harrier in the Forest of Bowland this year. In April I did observe a single immature male along with single female, but the two birds did not breed. As though it could not get any worse, we understand there may not be any nesting Hen Harriers anywhere in England this year. How terrible is that. Of course there is still time for a nest to be found, and if that happens I will let everyone know as soon as possible.

The other not so good news, it appears there are only two occupied Peregrine nests in the Forest of Bowland this year, both on moorland owned by United Utilities. Despite the best efforts of the members of the North West Raptor Group this spring we have not managed to locate any occupied Peregrine territories on any of the additional 5 shooting estate in Bowland. This means that at least 16 former Peregrine territories inside the Forest of Bowland remain abandoned.

Many of you will already have heard about the single male Pallid Harrier which is still flying (not shot) in the Dunsop Valley. I saw the bird for the first time on the evening of 10 May from the Pallid Harrier viewing point arranged by the RSPB. For those of you who so far have not seen this magnificent Harrier, I strongly suggest you make the trip to do so before it disappears. My account of my evenings observation along with my video are attached below. Dont leave your visit too long, you may never get a second chance to see this rare bird.

Forest of Bowland the flight of a Pallid Harrier during a setting sun.



Here we see England’s only migrant Pallid Harrier quartering moorland in the Dunsop Valley filmed from the official Harrier viewpoint in the Forest of Bowland last night at 7.30pm, 10/05/2017. Just as the evening sun was setting over Bowland’s moorland landscape our camera captured the beauty and dexterity of a Pallid Harriers hypnotic and choreographed flight.

Thanks to the RSPB’s wise decision to announce to the world the Harriers presence and precise location on moorland in the Forest of Bowland probably saved this bird’s life. We are confident that as long as the Pallid Harrier remains on moorland owned by United Utilities, and under the protection of the RSPB, his security is reasonably assured, at least for the time being.


However once the Harrier crosses the moorland boundary moving onto an adjoining estate, which eventually will certainly happen, he will not be safe at all, and may suddenly disappear, mirroring the demise of the four missing male Hen Harrier which all vanished in 2015 from the Forest of Bowland never to be seen again.

Of course no one can ensure the survival of this magnificent raptor once he migrates away from his present location on the United Utilities estate along the Dunsop Valley road, as he will certainly do. But for now, I urge as many people as possible to go and see the magnificent Pallid Harrier in the Whitendal Valley whilst it is still around flying free.

The sight of such a rare raptor in Bowland brought enjoyment and a great deal of pleasure to the many hundreds, if not thousands, of delighted people who decided to visit the Dunsop Valley in the last two weeks to marvel at such a rare avian spectacle in Lancashire’s sky.

Many will no doubt recall their observation of this single Pallid Harrier for the rest of our lives. We must not forget however the numerous additional protected raptors that once thrived throughout Bowland’s heather moorland which have now become a figment of our imagination, wiped out, possibly gone for ever which our children and grandchildren will never now get the chance to see.

We can only hope that this Pallid Harrier does not and must not be allowed to follow in the footsteps of the Hen Harrier, Peregrine and Short-eared owl which have mysteriously gone from the Forest of Bowland landscape as a result of their persecution. Unfortunately the chances of this bird surviving are very slim if the bird should he decide to over winter in the Forest of Bowland.

One last request, my appeal for donations via GoFundMe to save the Peregrine in the Forest of Bowland have now reached £1780, that a fantastic result of which I am very proud. To date we have purchased a GoPro Hero 5 Session camera to enable the group to record any incidents of persecution we encounter. We would like to purchase the two mountain bicycles we need to get about more easily on the estate tracks which are closed to all road traffic except bicycles. To do this we urgently require an additional £400 to make this happen, can anyone reading this help to achieve this aim please?

Terry Pickford.

North West Raptor Protection Group


2 comments to No good news re: Forest of Bowland raptors

  • Peter Woodruff

    Terribly depressing to read you saying not only no HH in Forest of Bowland, but anywhere else in England. And although you tell us two occupied Peregrine Falcon nests in the FoB, 16 former territories here remain abandoned.

    All very hard to take in even though we might have expected it, and doesn’t go to lift the depression at all.

    Keep up the good work Terry & Co.

  • falcoscot

    So is anyone bothered about the proposed Golden Eagle release in the South of Scotland wiping out a big chunk of the Peregrine and Hen Harrier population there. The Chairman of the project is Mark Oddy, who I believe is a Buccleuch Estates Factor and appears to be an advocate of culling raptors under license, wont be needing a license once the starving eagles do the job.