Hen Harrier Day event – Sunday 11 August

The weather forecast is good for Sunday – light showers and a breeze!

12 midday – 5pm, 11th August
Carsington Water Visitor Centre
Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Click here to find it on Google maps

Join Wild Justice (Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery) on the UK’s 6th Hen Harrier Day. Learn more about our Hen Harriers, discover the TRUTH behind their disappearance in the UK and find out what you can do to help.

Hen Harrier Day was established in 2014 and events have been held at locations from Northern Ireland to inside the M25 and from the south coast of England to the highlands of Scotland. It is now a recognised part of the ornithological and conservation scene and continues to raise awareness of the persistent illegal persecution by the grouse shooting industry of this beautiful, important and iconic bird.

On Stage

The speakers will be grouped in three blocks spread through the afternoon (programme subject to change):

Early speakers: Iolo Williams Conservationist and broadcaster), Hardyal Dhindsa (Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner), Gill Lewis (author), Tim Birch (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust).

Mid-afternoon speakers: Ruth Tingay (Wild Justice and Raptor Persecution UK), Cathleen Thomas (RSPB Hen Harrier Life project), Dan Rouse (conservationist, Wales), Ian Thomson (RSPB Investigations, Scotland)

Late afternoon speakers: Nick Lyall (Police Superintendent, chair Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group), Tessa Gregory (lawyer, Leigh Day), Dom Dyer (conservationist), Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Chris Packham CBE (Wild Justice, broadcaster etc).

Derbyshire Police Rural Crime Team will have a stand and be delighted to talk to you about wildlife crime issues. Other standholders: RSPB, West Midlands Bird Club, League Against Cruel Sports, Extinction Rebellion and others.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have produced an amazing small book of children’s writing on Hen Harriers – on sale on the day.

This is an outdoor event adjacent to the Carsington Water Visitor Centre which has a cafe, toilets, shops. Large pay and display car park. Unfortunately, no buses run to the site on a Sunday. If you would like a lift or can offer one please add your details here. Phone reception is poor and live-streaming has proved too expensive to contemplate. We will be filming the event and edited highlights will be available next week.

Chris Packham, Gill Lewis and Mark Avery will be signing books in the RSPB shop after the event (530pm).

All welcome. We thank Severn Trent for their support and enthusiasm in letting, and helping, us stage this event. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and RSPB each have a daily presence at this site and have been enthusiastic supporters of Hen Harrier Day 2019.

Hen Harriers

Their stunning beauty and the ugly truth.

The Hen Harrier is also called the ‘Skydancer’ because of its acrobatic displays in the breeding season.

RSPB video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACMAxlhBkoY

Illegal persecution on driven grouse moors has long been recognised as the main factor preventing recovery of the Hen Harrier population.

Male Hen Harrier found on a Scottish grouse moor caught in an illegally set spring trap this year. Despite efforts by a local vet this bird had to be euthanised. Photo: Ruth Tingay

A gamekeeper who was caught on camera shooting a Hen Harrier on a grouse moor in Scotland escaped prosecution because this video footage was deemed inadmissible.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, representatives from the grouse shooting industry claim that the illegal killing of Hen Harriers is an “historical controversy”.

by Paul Thomas

Scientists calculate there is habitat to support c2600 pairs of Hen Harriers in the UK – in the last national survey (2016) there were only 545 territorial pairs.

Photo: Gordon Yates

The latest scientific research says there should be c500 pairs of Hen Harriers nesting on grouse moors in the UK – in recent years there have been fewer than 20 pairs.

There should be 300+ pairs of Hen Harriers nesting in England – last year there were only 14 nests. Ludicrously, this was hailed as being ‘successful’ because there were more nests last year than in the previous decade.

Hen Harrier. Photo: Gordon Yates.

Losing over a quarter of the Hen Harrier population in just 12 years is a matter of serious conservation concern in Scotland.

Hen Harrier Annie was shot in an area of grouse moors in Scotlandin 2015 – her body was only found because she was satellite tagged.

A recent Government-commissioned study has shown that 72% of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers are likely to have been illegally killed on or next to grouse moors.

Hen Harriers are ten times more likely to die or disappear in suspicious circumstances on or near to a grouse moor than in any other habitat.

Heather is regularly burned on grouse moors across the UK – burning damages blanket bog habitats, increases carbon emissions, reduces water quality and increases flood risk (as well as all that persecution of Hen Harriers)

The Hen Harrier is one of the most persecuted birds of prey in the UK. It is relentlessly shot & trapped on many grouse moors because it eats Red Grouse as well as Meadow Pipits, voles and many other species.

But it’s not only Hen Harriers – here is RSPB video footage of a male Peregrine Falcon being caught in an illegally set trap, at a nest, on a grouse moor, in Bowland in Lancashire in 2016. The caught case collapsed because this evidence was deemed inadmissable. As well as footage of a trap being set thee is sound and video evidence of the female leaving the nest followed by the sound of shots.

Hen Harriers are not even safe inside some of our National Parks. Grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District & the North York Moors National Parks are notoriously dangerous for Hen Harriers.

The Hen Harrier is the logo of the Forest of Bowland AONB. This year 5 pairs of Hen Harrier nested successfully in one small part of the AONB managed by United Utilities plc – none is thought to have nested succcessfully on the large areas of grouse moor in the AONB since 2003. Bowland is another wildlife crime hotspot.

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is another notoriously dangerous place for Hen Harriers, and for other birds of prey such as Red Kites. They are poisoned, trapped and shot on grouse moors in this so-called protected area.

Map of Nidderdale AONB (yellow outline) with confirmed illegally killed Red Kites (red dots), disappeared Hen Harriers (orange stars), where Bowland Betty was recovered (red star) and an approximate location of River’s last resting place (red triangle, which we now know should be much closer to the red star denoting Bowland Betty)

A gamekeeper who was caught on camera setting illegal traps on a grouse moor escaped prosecution and just received a police caution instead. The police later admitted they’d made a mistake & should have charged him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=67&v=EljC03eMY54 Chris Packham talks in 2016 about illegal pole traps set on a Yorkshire grouse moor.

The main prey of Hen Harriers are small birds and mammals such as Field Voles and Meadow Pipits, but they also eat Red Grouse which is why they are illegally persecuted by the grouse shooting industry.

c600,000 Red Grouse are shot each year in the UK for ‘sport’. It will cost paying ‘guns’ an average of £75/bird to shoot Red Grouse. The record ‘bag’ for a day’s grouse shooting was set a long time ago – 2929 dead birds on the Abbeystead Estate in Lancashire on 12 August 1915. Photo: Tim Melling

Female Hen Harriers incubate the eggs and chicks – the males bring food which they pass to the female in mid-air close to the nest.

Hen Harrier food pass (male (above) pases food to the female in mid air. Photo: Gordon Yates

Some Hen Harriers travel to France and Spain in winter before returning to the hills of the UK to nest.

Hen Harrier, Photo: Geoff Harries.

In winter some Hen Harriers remain in the hills but many are found in coastal habitats far from the moorlands where they were hatched.

The normal Hen Harrier clutch size is 4 or 5 eggs which are incubated for 34 days. They nest on the ground in moorland areas.

Hen Harrier chicks. Photo: Mark Hamblin

Hen Harriers are one of three harrier species which nest in the UK – the other species are Marsh Harrier and Montagu’s Harrier.

Hen Harriers normally first breed at two years of age.

Hen Harrier female and chicks at the nest. Photo: Peter Cairns

A satellite-tagged Hen Harrier hatched in Lancashire travelled to the north of Scotland and roamed widely in northern England before being shot in a grouse shooting area of Yorkshire.

Those who illegally kill Hen Harriers on grouse moors are getting away with their crimes because the Westminster & Scottish Governments have consistently failed to address the problem, largely due to vested interests.

Listen to A Distant Call by The Artisans – downloadable on Monday.

Read Mark Avery’s book, Inglorious, on why we should ban driven grouse shooting.