Mark Avery

Your task, should you choose to accept it…Mark ♦ September 30, 2016 ♦ 7 CommentsYour task this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to submit evidence to the inquiry on grouse shooting – for details of how to do that see here.‘Submit evidence’ sounds a bit scary doesn’t it? How about ‘Send your thoughts’ instead? You could do that couldn’t you?  Look at Question 1 – ‘Should the law on grouse shooting be changed? If so, how?’. I reckon you have thoughts on that.I am writing my evidence and it’s quite a task to limit oneself to 3000 words on such a big subject. You could write a book about it  – hang on! Someone did. I know that many organisations are preparing detailed and erudite submissions to send in by the closing date on Wednesday 5 October but I have already also seen quite ...
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Comment on Second 2016 hen harrier goes missing

This is becoming a depressingly familiar story and only 10 days after the inglorious 12th - what a coincidence. If this was an illegal killing the perpetrators are getting smart enough to conceal any incriminating evidence.  

Bell Sykes Meadow Slaidburn

Over the summer I have been  recording the growth on one of the meadows at Bell Sykes near Slaidburn by taking photographs from the same spot every week. This was to help Sarah Robinson, the Forest of Bowland Hay Time Project Officer http://forestofbowland.com/Hay-Time-Project-0. Bell Sykes meadows are part of the Coronation meadows project. The Coronation Meadows website coronationmeadows.org.uk describe them as “Bell Sykes Meadows includes six unimproved flower-rich fields. Three of these include grasses such as meadow foxtail and sweet vernal grass along with moisture loving flowers like great burnet and meadowsweet. The upper three fields are home to the characteristic flowers of dry hay meadows in northern England. Meadow crane’s-bill and melancholy thistle grow together with a colourful mix of yellow rattle, eyebrights, p...

Blog Post: Second 2016 hen harrier goes missing

I’m sorry to have to report that we have lost another of this year’s satellite tagged hen harrier chicks. Brian, named after the very experienced raptor worker Brian Etheridge, was one of our non-public-facing birds. With the permission of the landowner and help of local Scottish Raptor Study Group members, he was tagged as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE Project on 4 th July on an estate in Perthshire within the Cairngorms National Park. He fledged from the nest and stayed close to the nest site until the beginning of August when he moved north into southern Inverness-shire. Brian then spent the next few weeks over various areas of managed grouse moor, within the National Park with frequent strong, clear transmissions from his tag providing detailed information about his daily travels. Brian having just received his satellite tag (photo:...

Comment on Second 2016 hen harrier goes missing

You get to a point where you're tired of commenting on how sickening this is - to watch these lovely birds grow up, and then you ring and tag them while trying to ignore the fact that at some point you'll probably have to tell the world that your beautiful tagged bird has abruptly vanished without a trace.  On this side of the border we really need to keep banging on about this horrendousness as Parliament prepares to debate the 'sport' of driven grouse shooting and all its dreadful consequences. ...

Bowland and It’s Lack of Raptors © Mark Avery

Guest blog – Bowland and its lack of raptors by Terry PickfordMark ♦ June 24, 2016 ♦ 17 CommentsTerry ringing peregrine chicks Forest of BowlandI have been involved with monitoring and protecting raptors, in particular the Peregrine beginning 1967, when the North West Raptor Group was established, then only 7 active territories remained in the North West England. In the 1980s I located the first ground nesting pair of Peregrines close to the A6 on Shap. Field work began in 1974 in the Forest of Bowland when in April of that year Paul Stott, a founder member of the NWRG, discovered the first Peregrine nest in Bowland containing a single abandoned egg. In 1947 this same territory was known to be the only occupied Peregrine site existing in this moorland region following the end of the Second World War. The 1947 nest contain...

Blog Post: Guest blog: Satellite tracking and mortality in Montagu’s harriers

Raymond Klaassen is one of the lead researchers at the  Dutch Montagu's Harrier Foundation . Here he tells us about his work using satellite tracking to study the migration and mortality of Montagu's harriers on the continent.  This nomadic species is a close relative of the hen harrier and so similar in appearance to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Montagu's harriers currently breed on agricultural land in just three locations in the UK, and widely across Europe, from Spain to Belarus. The satellite tags used by the Dutch Montagu's Harrier Foundation are of the same make and model as those currently being used to track hen harriers in the UK.  The tagging process is also subject to the same stringent licensing procedures to ensure the welfare of the birds always comes first.  The Montagu’s harrier is a r...

Autumnal butterflies

There is a definite nip in the air first thing in the morning and last thing at night but midday is as hot as any summer day we've had and the butterflies and bees are making the most of late flowering blooms to prepare for hibernation. My garden might be looking a bit past its best but theres still lots of lovely colour to make the most of and gladden the heart....
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Blog Post: Introducing Katy: inspiring schools and communities about hen harriers

Guest blog from Katy Saulite, one of our two Community Engagement Officers for the Hen Harrier LIFE Project.  Hello everyone. I feel like it is long overdue that I introduce myself as one of two community engagement officers working as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE Project. As part of this introduction I would like to include a delightfully kind drawing I received from a pupil of Muirkirk Primary School in May, during my first outreach session to a school as part of the project. My name’s Katy and I'm working predominantly in Scotland, delivering exciting community engagement work through the LIFE project across our target project Special Protection Areas (SPAs). As I am now getting stuck into my role I hope to give regular updates of my work with schools, agricultural colleges, community groups and the wider public. I am happy to report...

Editorial

It is worth reading Phil Slade in http://anotherbirdblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/ringing-gold.html reporting on a ringing session at Oakenclough. As a strong advocate of increasing woodland cover in Bowland it is good to hear about the newly re-opened Woodland Creation Planning Grant details available here http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-fif. I have just downloaded a copy of State of Nature 2016 it can be downloaded here http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/stateofnature16 ....
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Those Awkward Hen Harriers © Mark Avery

Mark ♦ August 14, 2016 ♦ 27 CommentsPhoto: Gordon YatesOK let’s get back to Hen Harriers.  Aren’t they lovely?Those who have been defending or promoting driven grouse shooting find Hen Harriers difficult to talk about.  It will be interesting to see how much utter tripe some MPs may come up with in the debate we expect to see over the future of driven grouse shooting.  As an MP, you can get away with saying almost anything in parliament but you can’t get away with saying it secretly or erasing the account of your saying it. Any MP who misrepresents the facts about Hen Harriers in a debate on the future of driven grouse shooting should expect to be swamped by letters from her or his constituents afterwards.In all modesty, you will find Chapter 1 of Inglorious a good guide to the biology and status of the ...

Blog Post: Guest blog: A view from the hills

David Hunt is one of two Assistant Investigations Officers employed by RSPB's Hen Harrier LIFE Project to support the conservation and protection of this species. Here he reflects on the 2016 breeding season and shares some of his thoughts and experiences of watching over these beautiful birds.  I always think that August is a month when the hill seems to breathe again. The hustle bustle of the busy upland bird breeding season has ground to a halt and all becomes quiet again. This was apparent as I slipped out from the forest edge and stopped to survey the now purple heather-tinged hill, the only noise coming from the wind rippling through the swathes of slowly browning bracken. Not far out onto the hill to my delight, a young female Hen Harrier, complete with a brand new satellite tag on her back gave me a brief squeak before lifting ove...

Blog Post: Meet the Hen Harrier Class of 2016

The profiles of 11 of this year's satellite-tagged hen harriers are now online and what a handsome bunch they are. Check out the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website  to learn more about their stories and meet:                  Aalin (Photo: James Leonard)                 Beater (Photo: Euan Weston)                   Bonny (Photo: Mark Thomas)                     Carroll (Photo: Martin Davison)                 DeeCee (Photo: Brian Etheridge)               Donald (Photo: Dean Thompson)                             Elwood (Photo: Brian Etheridge)                                 Finn (far right, Photo: Martin Davison)                 H arriet (Photo: Shaila Rao)                     Hermione (Photo: Paul Haworth)             Wendy (Photo: John ...

Blog Post: Guest blog: Finn the hen harrier takes flight

Findlay Wilde is the young conservationist and blogger behind Wilde About Birds . Finn is a young female hen harrier who, together with her three brothers, fledged from one of two nests on Forestry Commission land in Northumberland this month.  Finn was satellite tagged as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE Project and is named after Findlay, who was one of the winners of Ecotricity’s Young Green Briton competition last year. Run by Britain’s leading green energy company, the competition looks to find the country’s greenest youngsters and gives them a chance to speak about a key environmental topic on stage at WOMAD Festival. Ecotricity was so impressed by Findlay’s passion and focus on the issue of hen harriers that the company funded the satellite tag.  Here, Findlay shares with us that passion for hen harriers and his hopes for our ...

Blog Post: Introducing a Bonny wee hen harrier

With the notable exception of Henry , few living hen harriers manage to achieve national celebrity status. But at barely six weeks old, our young male, Bonny, is already well used to the public eye, after the fitting of his satellite tag by trained and licensed RSPB staff was filmed and featured on the national BBC Six News last week, as well as a radio edit on BBC R4's PM programme (available here until 17th Sept).  Bonny with his newly fitted satellite tag being held by RSPB's Guy Anderson. Photo: Mark Thomas Bonny was the only chick to hatch from a clutch of five eggs on RSPB’s Geltsdale reserve this year, marking the first successful nest on the reserve in since 2006, and only the second successful nest in the whole of the North Pennines in the last 10 years. He is one of a number of hen harriers to be satellite tagged as part of RS...

Blog Post: Guest Blog: Aalin, the sat-tagged Manx Hen Harrier takes to the air

Neil Morris is the Managing Director of Manx BirdLife. Here he shares his thoughts and hopes for Aalin, the second hen harrier to be satellite tagged on the Isle of Man as part of a partnership between Manx BirdLife and RSPB's Hen Harrier LIFE Project.  I’m a complete convert to Manx culture and the beauty and character of the Manx countryside, having relatively recently exchanged the blistering heat of the Qatari desert for the cool climes of the Isle of Man..  On just my third day on the island while tidying up the garden, I looked up to see a Hen Harrier drifting over the hills behind our house. This was my introduction to ‘Manx’ Hen Harriers. Roll forward eighteen months and my family loves the place. To the south, rugged heather moorlands drop spectacularly to dramatic granite cliffs. While to the north, rolling green hills ak...

Hen Harrier missing over…guess what?…a grouse moor © Mark Avery

Mark ♦ August 18, 2016 ♦ 4 Comments The RSPB announced today that a young male Hen Harrier, fitted with a satellite transmitter as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, has gone missing on a grouse moor in the Monadhliath Mountains, south-east of Inverness. The bird, named Elwood, was the only chick to fledge from a nest in Banffshire, which was being monitored under the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Scotland ‘Heads-up for Harriers’ scheme. The transmitter’s data, being monitored by RSPB staff, indicated that Elwood fledged in the first week of July, but stayed close to the nest site in the hills above the River Spey until 20 July, when he began to travel more widely. By the 27 July, Elwood had moved 20 miles to the south west, and had settled in the hills around Tomatin. Elwood remaine...

Comment on Elwood Blues: First tagged hen harrier of 2016 goes missing

How sad to hear this news.  It's high time these 'black holes' for tagged raptors were permanently closed, in all senses of the word.  Full marks to the terrific landowners who continue to prove that it is possible to run a shooting estate without killing our birds of prey. ...