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...

Blog Post: Elwood Blues: First tagged hen harrier of 2016 goes missing

Ian Thomson is RSPB Scotland's Head of Investigations, whose team help to monitor the data from our satellite tagged hen harriers. Here he shares some upsetting news.  We knew it would happen sooner or later, I just hoped that for once it might be later... It’s very disappointing to have to break the news that one of our satellite-tagged youngsters has already “gone missing”, on a grouse moor in the Monadhliath Mountains, south-east of Inverness. We’ve barely even had the chance to properly introduce you to our new group of hen harriers which fledged from nests in England and Scotland this year before we have to announce this terrible news.   Our male bird, nicknamed Elwood by RSPB staff, after the Blues Brothers, was the only chick to fledge from a nest in Banffshire. With a tough start to life due to apparently limited food, th...

The grouse shooters aim to kill: the first casualty is the truth © George Monbiot

Their campaign against the RSPB is a shameful example of ‘astroturfing’. The public should beware  ‘Grouse are cosseted at the expense of other life forms. Predators must be eliminated.’ Photograph: Danny Lawson/PAThis is how, in a democracy, you win when you are outnumbered: you purchase the results. It’s how politics now works. The very rich throw money at the parties, lobby groups and thinktanks that project their demands. If they are clever, they keep their names out of it.Here’s an example: a campaign fronted by the former England cricket captain Sir Ian Botham, called You Forgot the Birds. It appears to have two purposes: to bring down the RSPB – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – and to get the natural history presenter Chris Packham sacked from the BBC.It likes to present itself as “... a...

Blog Post: Guest Blog: Researchers develop forensic DNA kit for hen harriers

Dr. Arati Iyengar is from the School of Forensic & Applied Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), who have recently developed a forensic DNA kit, SkydancerPlex, which allows individual hen harriers to be identified from tiny samples of blood or feathers. To celebrate this research, UCLan have sponsored one of this year’s satellite-tagged hen harriers, Hermione, who was named via an online poll. What is the SkydancerPlex? This exciting new development is an extremely accurate DNA based identification kit for hen harriers. In humans, DNA is routinely used to match an evidence sample collected from a crime scene to a sample from a suspect, thus linking the suspect to the crime scene. In wildlife species, there are very few DNA based identification kits, particularly ones which have been tested to the rigorous standards ne...

Blog Post: The ordinary 12th

Today is the traditional start of the grouse shooting season – the ‘Glorious 12 th ’ to some; the Inglorious 12 th to others. To be honest, it’s just another day to me – I’ve never been grouse shooting and I doubt I ever will. It’s a Friday so I guess that’s good. I suppose for me it’s just the ordinary 12 th . If someone brings cake in it might stretch to the pretty decent 12 th . But behind that slightly flippant introduction is a serious question – does grouse shooting matter and perhaps most pertinently of all, does it have a future? In 100 years’ time, will there still be a Glorious 12 th , or will it be looked back on as an odd quirky footnote in the history of our countryside? I’m sure we’ll hear lots of perspectives on that today from all angles, but from my perspective the only answer to the question “s...

Hen Harrier Day © Treshnish Wildlife Diary

Protest in comfort   The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and used to be the last stronghold of the Hen Harrier in England. When you drive into the area you are welcomed by a sign illustrated with a Hen Harrier (alternative sign here and a wag has made a point with this one). The symbol is is now quite ironic and a continual reminder of the embarrassing fact that there are now no Hen Harriers breeding in the Forest of Bowland. The Hen Harriers used to breed on North West Water / United Utilities land and recently not at all on the estate owned by Gerald Grosvenor, one of the richest people in the UK and who some people refer to as the Duke of Westminster. Incidentally but not co-incidentally there were also no Peregrines breeding on the Forest of Bowland this year and as Terry Pickford writes, ...

Flies

The garden is full of flies, hoverflies and bees, they are especially fond of the marjoram and thyme and we noticed this fantastic fly looking more like a bumblebee. We think its Tachina grossa apparently it takes caterpillars for its young to feed on. Lovely.Update - I now have a pet fly! Like bees it love s sugar water....
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Hen Harrier Day

Hen Harrier Day – overviewHen Harrier Day: Sunday August 10th 2014   Hen Harrier Day was initiated by Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC), and organised and coordinated by a coalition of BAWC, former RSPB Conservation Director and leading activist Mark Avery, broadcaster and conservationist Chris Packham, the country’s leading wildlife charity the RSPB, and the North West Raptor Protection Group.Hen Harrier Day attracted support from a wide selection of organisations and activists, including the Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust, the Hawk and Owl Trust, the League Against Cruel Sports, the Peak District National Park, South West Peregrine Group, Birdwatch magazine, Rare Bird Alert, Bird Information, Birdguides, Welsh Ornithological Society and Quaker Concern for Animals.And of course we can also add a huge following of supporte...
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Blog Post: A thought for this year’s hen harrier chicks

With only a few days to go until the third annual Hen Harrier Day, my thoughts are inevitably with this year’s newly fledged chicks and the challenges facing them as they stretch their wings and take to the air for the first time over the previous and coming weeks. Despite RSPB’s recent departure from the Defra-led Hen Harrier Action Plan, we remain fully committed to securing a sustainable future for these birds and the Hen Harrier LIFE Project has been, and will continue to deliver on-the-ground conservation through nest protection and winter roost monitoring (in partnership with NERF and SRSG), investigations work, and importantly, satellite tagging. This year, thanks to cosmetics company LUSH, and sales of their fabulous Skydancer Bath Bomb, we’ve be able to double the number of satellite tags the project can fit. So far this yea...

Bowland Brewery Subjected to Hate Campaign

Bowland Brewery subjected to hate campaign for supporting hen harriers By RaptorPersecutionUK 94 Comments Categories: News and Opinion Tags: hen harrier Earlier this year, the Bowland Brewery in Lancashire committed to donate a proportion of the proceeds from the sale of its Hen Harrier beer to the RSPB’s hen harrier conservation projects (see press statement here). James Warburton, owner of Bowland Brewery said: “The hen harrier is a living symbol of Bowland Brewery’s intimate connection with the landscape where we produce our beers. The very real prospect that this beautiful bird of prey may disappear from the skies above the Forest of Bowland is unthinkable. That’s why we are committing to donate a significant sum of money each year to safeguard the future of one of Bowland’...

RSPB

RSPB walks away from Hen Harrier Action Plan By RaptorPersecutionUK 27 Comments Categories: News and Opinion Tags: hen harrier The RSPB has decided to ‘withdraw its support for DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Action Plan’. See Conservation Director Martin Harper’s blog here for the full explanation. This is very welcome news – well done RSPB! Some will say the RSPB should never have supported it in the first place (and we’d be in that camp). The Hen Harrier Action Plan was never a plan to help hen harriers, even though it was dressed up as such. What it actually was/is, is a plan to help remove hen harriers from driven grouse moors so that there are more red grouse available to be shot by wealthy gunmen (see here). Others will say that the RSPB has played a clever game by init...
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Blog Post: Leaving the Hen Harrier Action Plan: a personal perspective

Jeff Knott is RSPB's Head of Nature Policy. Here he shares his own personal perspective on the decision to walk away from Defra's Hen Harrier Action Plan.  It’s always disappointing when you invest a lot of your time and energy into something and it doesn’t work out as you’d hoped. Whether it’s work, sports or relationships; nothing stings quite as much as the disappointment of unfulfilled potential. The Hen Harrier Action Plan, created under Defra’s Upland Stakeholder Forum has been like that for me and has had a bit of all three. The potential of a positive opportunity. The misplaced optimism of an England football campaign. And ultimately the disappointing realisation that it’s just not working out. Four years. That is, to coin a technical phrase, a bloody long time! Four years ago we were gearing up for the London Olympics...

Elizabeth Mills 2016-07-21 21:34:00

We recycled old tractor tyres to make into flower beds and the wildflowers have really romped away. The little pond we made from an old water cistern has two resident frogs and a visiting toad who like to sit in the cool shade near it.Cornfield wildflower mix in tractor tyre filled with molehills.Looks so relaxing!Wildflowers love the gravelly area under the trees....

Friends of Bowland walk

Friends of Bowland organized a "Wildlife Wander" from Cross of Greets bridge. The weather fined up and it was lovely and sunny which brought out the grasshoppers, dragonflies and beetles. Lots of Meadow Pipits and Whinchats and possibly saw a Hen Harrier circling above. Found Bog Asphodel and Sundews....