Archive for the ‘RSPB Hen Harrier Project’ Category

Blog Post: Hen Harrier “Lad” found dead on Speyside

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
By Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations, Scotland Lad was a male hen harrier who was fitted with a LIFE+ Project satellite tag by licensed RSPB staff on 16 th July 2015, a few days before he fledged from a nest on an estate owned by Wildland Ltd in the Cairngorms National Park, in southern Inverness-shire. After fledging in late July, Lad stayed close to the nest area until the last week of August, when he then moved a short distance away from the estate where he was tagged.  Photo credit: Dave Pullan Only a few days later, on 3 rd September, RSPB staff monitoring the transmissions from Lad’s tag became concerned that he had stopped moving in an area of moorland, still within the National Park, near Newtonmore. On the 10 th , with further transmissions confirming he was dead, RSPB Scotland Investigations staff visited the area after informing the police, and found Lad’s body lying face down in the heather. The carcass was recovered, the police were informed, and Lad’s remains were delivered to the SRUC Veterinary laboratory near Penicuik the following day. Photo credit: RSPB Investigations We received the preliminary post mortem report from the laboratory a few days later. It stated: “The skin was split open on the left side of the neck parallel with the jugular groove. There was haemorrhage in the subcutaneous tissues in this area and a horizontal split in the trachea. There was damage to three feathers of the right wing consisting of a single groove mark perpendicular to the shaft of each feather.” The body was then X-rayed. The subsequent follow-up SRUC post mortem report from 29 th September stated: “Despite the failure to identify metallic fragments within the carcase the appearance of the damage to the wing feathers is consistent with damage caused by shooting. The injury to the neck could be explained by a shot gun pellet passing straight through the soft tissue of the neck. Both injuries could have brought the bird down and proved fatal.” Copies of the preliminary and follow-up post mortem reports were immediately passed to Police Scotland. RSPB Scotland understands that the police have subsequently had meetings with representatives of several estates located in the vicinity of where Lad’s body was recovered. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Wildland Ltd who gave permission and access to fit the satellite tag on Lad, staff at the SRUC Veterinary laboratory for undertaking the post mortem work and to Police Scotland for their follow-up to this case. We are of course saddened that the sudden death of Lad has deprived us of the opportunity to follow his travels through Scotland and beyond, and maybe go on to raise chicks of his own. We wish to appeal to anyone who can provide any information about Lad’s untimely and early death to contact Police Scotland on 101.  

Blog Post: Nile the hen harrier helps the conservation of his species

Monday, March 21st, 2016
Last summer, we fitted a satellite tag to a male hen harrier chick at a nest in Northumberland. He was named Nile by our Investigations team. We were able to track his movements south to Salisbury Plain over the autumn, and along with records from the Wiltshire Ornithological Society, his tag revealed new winter roosting and foraging areas for hen harriers in the area. Nile with his satellite tag fitted (photo credit: RSPB Investigations) The MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) - responsible for managing and maintaining the MoD’s land and properties - has been working with its tenants for many years to implement management measures at known roost sites to improve conditions for hen harriers. The new information from Nile’s tag will allow the DIO to implement further measures in these new areas to make their land even better for these spectacular birds. Sadly, not long after migrating across the channel to northern France, data for Nile’s tag showed that he had died. We organised a search for his body, but unfortunately it could not be found so we will never know his cause of death. Although we are gutted that we were not able to follow Nile’s progress further, it’s heartening to know that information from his satellite tag will help protect roosting harriers in future.

Blog Post: National Hen Harrier Survey 2016

Friday, March 18th, 2016
Guest blog by Simon Wotton, RSPB Conservation Science There will be a full survey of breeding hen harriers in the UK and Isle of Man in 2016.  The last national survey of this UK red-listed species of conservation concern was in 2010, when the population was estimated at 662 territorial pairs (95% confidence interval, 576–770), an 18% decline in the population between 2004 and 2010. The population decreased in parts of Scotland and the Isle of Man, and remains at very low levels in England.  The survey will provide updated estimates of population size and national and regional trends since 2010.  As a high profile species of great conservation concern, current information on status across the UK range is vital. In Scotland, the survey is being organised by RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Raptor Study Group.  Survey coverage will be organised in coordination with the Scottish Raptor Study Group. Non-random ‘census’ coverage of core areas will be carried out by volunteers, and randomly selected 10km squares will be surveyed in the rest of the range, by RSPB fieldworkers. The survey area (the species’ known range) has been defined using results of the last survey and the Bird Atlas 2007-11, consultation within the RSPB and with the statutory conservation agencies, and by approaching Raptor Study Groups for their knowledge and details of the “core areas” for hen harrier that they usually monitor. Planned survey coverage in Scotland, by volunteers and RSPB fieldworkers. Elsewhere, it is expected that complete coverage will be achieved of all suitable 10km squares within the Hen Harrier range in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.  The other survey partners are Natural England, Northern England Raptor Forum, Natural Resources Wales, Manx BirdLife and the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group. Field surveys will follow the well-established two to three visit method between late March and the end of July, giving the advantage of good comparability with previous surveys.  If no birds have been seen, or breeding has not been confirmed, during the first two visits, a third visit may be made between late June and the end of July.  

Comment on Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Can we have a shower gel as well? I don't like baths but I do love hen harriers.

Comment on Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Can we have a shower gel as well? I don't like baths but I do love hen harriers.

Blog Post: Hen Harriers – Heaven Scent

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Guest blog by Paul Morton – Lush Campaigns, to celebrate raising £100,000 for satellite tagging of hen harriers over the coming years. It’s always good to start off a story with a bit of nostalgia, especially when one of your favourite birds is involved. Baz Luhrmann (remember him? No? Sunscreen? oh never mind) famously philosophised that nostalgia is a form of advice that you drag up from the past and distribute to unsuspecting victims. Well, I’m glad that an experience I had when I was 10 years old enabled me to advise 33 year old me to take note and remember that wildlife, nature and particularly male hen harriers are beautiful….never to be forgotten (or lost). You see, I live on the edge of Poole Harbour, a stones throw away from RSPB Arne Nature Reserve, a great place for winter birds of prey, then and now. 10 year old me was sat in the Shipstal Hide with my mum, watching avocets, curlew and redshank, when a gentleman with a scope sat next to me shouted out 'HEN HARRIER!'. Now, one of my favourite hobbies was reading my Collins Field Guide over and over and I had a mental note in my head of all birds I was expecting to see in Poole Harbour during my life time and hen harrier certainly wasn’t on that list (neither was great northern diver, ring ouzel or red kite to be perfectly honest with you)! Slightly puzzled, I asked if I could take a look and what I saw I’ll never forget. A male hen harrier quartering along the spartina fringes of Gold Point, a finger of land that points out into the harbour. Star struck and speechless I watched it for what seemed like hours but must have only been seconds before it carried on over the marsh and behind the woodland never to be seen again. I felt like I had won in life already and nothing could better this experience….ever! Fast-forward 15 years and I somehow managed to wangle a job at RSPB Arne nature reserve as an Information Officer, a job that required me to educate and enthuse people about the reserves wildlife...and enthuse I did. I was at Arne for two years and loved my time there, saw some amazing things and met some incredible people. Yet, without doubt, my highlight at Arne would be bunking off 20 minutes early (sorry Lynne) during the winter, and going to watch hen harriers before they went into roost. A spectacle that still needs me to pick my jaw up off the ground after the birds have gone to bed. Anyone that knows me will know I can get a little over excited and distracted when it comes to birds and wildlife and get so pent up with excitement, adrenaline and anxiety - often all at the same time! Luckily I’ve learnt to channel these emotions by campaigning for change and action. Fast-forward another four years and I’m sat with the Lush campaigns team (which is where I spend a percentage of my work time) and we’re discussing campaign ideas. For some people (including me prior to working for them) it may come as a surprise just how strong Lush are as a campaigning organisation, fighting hard for human rights, animal welfare and environmental injustice. When it was announced in 2014 that only four pairs of hen harrier had successfully bred in England we felt compelled to get involved to try and help promote the issue to our customers. A campaign was set up through all our UK Lush shops, where we provided a website for people to get all the info they needed about this illegal activity, as well as a politely worded postcard for people to sign….destination Buckingham Palace. Over the course of the month more than 20,000 Lush customers signed postcards and added their voice to our plea for the illegal killing to stop. This was ‘high street conservation’ at its very best and we even got to take a trip up to Buckingham Palace to hand over the signed postcards. Surprisingly they didn’t open the main front gates for us and welcome us through with a horned fan fair, rather they let us in through the small side gate along Buckingham Palace Road, you know…the entrance where they deliver the fish. Still, our and the public's message was clear and we all kept our fingers crossed and our breath held. One year on and what had changed? Well, not a lot to be honest. There was a slight rise in Hen Harrier breeding success from four to six pairs, but at the same time five adult males had ‘disappeared’ from active nests during the breeding season and it seemed we were back to square one. It also seemed the obvious approach was to work with and help the RSPB with their Hen Harrier Life+ project by raising enough money to try and satellite tag as many Hen Harrier chicks as possible over the coming years. OVER TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC… In July 2015 (and with less than a week's notice), the Lush manufacturing team designed and built a prototype bath bomb in the shape of a male hen harrier against a setting sun, which looked and smelt incredible. Admittedly, the prototype was about the size of a dinner plate, so after a quick re-design and tweak, our product was ready and we were now almost ready to throw the challenge over to the public to start raising money for hen harrier conservation. There was one small problem, we didn’t have a name for our Sicilian lemon and liquorice masterpiece, so over to Chris Packham to come up with a name…."Skydancer – Far from the Madding Guns". Skydancer went on sale in early August 2015 and here we are only seven months later having now raised £100,000 for hen harriers thanks to the wonderful support of our Lush customers. We’re over the moon with this result, and can’t thank everyone enough for their contribution towards this campaign. So to finish off, do I think we’ll see a rise in breeding hen harriers over the coming five, ten, fifteen years? Well, yes I do. Not just because I’m a hopeless optimist but because I also believe in the power of people. Right across the country there are people fighting for this cause and all it needs is a little co-ordination, lateral thinking and dogged determination to fight for our environment and its hen harriers now and in years to come. ...... The LIFE Project would also like to thank the Lush staff involved in running an awareness-raising event with local RSPB staff at the Aberdeen store on 20th and 21st February where another 88 bath bombs were sold, proceeds of which have gone to the cause.

Blog Post: Countryfile Conservation Success of the Year: the hen harrier

Monday, March 14th, 2016
As some of you may be aware, the hen harrier was awarded Countryfile’s Conservation Success of the Year last month: http://www.countryfile.com/explore-countryside/places/wildlife-success-story-year-201516 Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC) received the award on behalf of the species for their hard work raising awareness of the birds’ plight at their conference in Bristol last weekend. Here is a photo of the guys from Birders Against Wildlife Crime (from left to right: Charlie Moores, Lawrie Phipps and Phil Walton) with the award. Photo credit: Guy Shorrock

Comment on An update on Holly the hen harrier

Saturday, February 6th, 2016
Very sad to hear of the loss of one of the few,if it can be proved her death was natural at least it will be one crime less to an ever growing list.

Blog Post: An update on Holly the hen harrier

Friday, February 5th, 2016
If you have been following the movements of our satellite tagged birds on our website, you will have noticed that we lost Holly in mid-October 2015, quite soon after she was featured. Needless to say, the project team were gutted as we were looking forward to following her travels and sharing them with you. You can read about her story here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife/holly.html   Photo credit: John Simpson As soon as her satellite tag data showed us she had died, we went to the site– an area of upland farmland and forestry to the north east of Glasgow - to look for her. We searched the area thoroughly but, unfortunately, we were unable to locate her. This is disappointing as we would have wished to submit the body to a government laboratory for a post mortem examination to try to establish how she died.  Survival rates for young harriers like Holly are low, with only around 1 in 3 surviving to a year old.  These youngsters will often die of natural causes such as starvation, but we cannot speculate as to the cause of death in her case.  We will of course provide an update if any further information comes to light.

Blog Post: The decline of the hen harrier in NE Scotland

Thursday, February 4th, 2016
By Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations, RSPB Scotland There is no denying that the hen harrier is one of our most spectacular and enigmatic birds of prey. It breeds in remote, out-of-the-way locations, often in the uplands, miles away from the biggest centres of human population. For me, it’s a bird that never fails to lift my spirits, one that always brightens a day out birding or hill-walking. I’ve been lucky. I was brought up in Aberdeen, and as a teenager going through my birding formative years in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, was fortunate to be there at a time when the North-east Scotland Raptor Study Group (NERSG) was in the process of being created. The hills and glens of Deeside became a second home to me for several springs, with the chance of seeing golden eagles, merlins and peregrines. But, the monitoring of breeding hen harriers was always one of the highlights. My dominant memory of those days was being invited along one day to help with ringing the chicks at three nests in one of the glens that went off to the south of the main Dee valley. I’d never been to a harrier nest before, and could barely contain my excitement! I’d watched the adults on several occasions from a mile or so away, so the opportunity to see these birds up close was brilliant. But, at every nest, there were no chicks. There were no adult birds around. There were cold, dead eggs. “They’ve been done.” said one of my colleagues. At that time, I suppose, on reflection, I’d little concept of what that really meant. But fast-forward 35 years, and I now lead the RSPB Investigations team in Scotland, I know exactly what it meant, and days like that are why I do this job. A paper that I’m sure will be of great interest to many, but is particularly so to me personally, has just been published in the journal British Birds .“The past, current and potential status of breeding Hen Harriers in North-east Scotland” [1] is a testament to the incredible efforts of a number of people in the NERSG in monitoring the fortunes of this species over the last 35 years. Several of the authors had been undertaking harrier monitoring before my first forays into the Aberdeenshire hills, and they continue to do so. It is however a depressing story that this paper tells. A peak population of 28 pairs in the area in the early 1990’s had declined to only one confirmed breeding pair by 2014.  Year after year, raptor workers carry out hundreds of hours of unpaid fieldwork, driven on solely by their commitment to the conservation of their chosen species. And every year, raptor nests fail and adult birds disappear. It’s widely acknowledged that bad weather, food shortage and predation are factors in breeding attempts being unsuccessful. But we also all know that places like the moors of north-east Scotland, the southern uplands around the Borders, and the Peak District of northern England are areas where food for harriers is abundant. These are also the areas where we’re told that upland breeding waders are thriving because of the intensive predator control regimes undertaken by sporting estates. So, if there’s plenty of available food, abundant nesting habitat, very low numbers of predators and other ground-nesting species like waders (and grouse!) are doing well, why are hen harriers doing so badly in these areas? The answer is pretty simple – persecution. What proof is there of this? There have been very few proven recent cases of illegal killing of hen harriers...  This is indeed true. But when you have a very small population, you’re not likely to get many proven cases of persecution. The damage has already been done. Raptor populations cannot withstand a level of attrition where year after year, adults are killed or nests destroyed. Suffice to say that in 2013, when the population of hen harriers in NE Scotland, as listed in this study, was only four confirmed pairs, by sheer luck, birds were witnessed being shot at two nest sites. In both cases, the perpetrators removed the dead harrier. That’s no surprise as why would a criminal want to leave evidence of their crime lying around to be found?  But, many birds are being killed out of sight of witnesses? Population studies such as this give you a good idea. From 2004 to 2010, the population of hen harriers in Scotland fell by 22% to 525 pairs. In 2011, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee published “A conservation framework for hen harriers” [2] . The conclusions of this piece of work were that the potential hen harrier population of Scotland was estimated to be within the range 1467–1790 pairs, but that there was strong evidence that, in the uplands of eastern and southern Scotland, illegal persecution was causing the failure of the majority of breeding attempts, leading to fewer breeding birds and/or fewer successful nests. It was depressingly predictable that certain organisations that claim to represent land management interests dismissed the conclusions of this report, in part by claiming the findings were out of date. The good news for them is that the Hen Harrier framework has been revised, and is due for publication, hopefully very soon. I wonder if this revised version will elicit different conclusions?  Or will this latest piece of work, monitoring and documenting the hen harrier population of NE Scotland be similarly disputed by those who are part of the denial culture that seemingly pervades much of the game bird shooting industry? But, I have news for those that seek to undermine the efforts of those who are out in all weathers monitoring Scotland’s birds of prey, and bringing the decline of these magnificent birds to the public’s attention. This report’s findings are the reality. I know. I’ve been there.   [1] Rebecca, G., Cosnette, B., Craib, J., Duncan, A., Etheridge, B., Francis, I., Hardey, J., Pout, A., and Steele, L. (2016) The past, current and potential status of breeding Hen Harriersin North-east Scotland. British Birds 109: 77– 95 [2] Fielding, A., Haworth, P., Whitfield, P., McLeod, D. & Riley, H. (2011) A Conservation Framework for Hen Harriers in the United Kingdom. JNCC Report 441. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.  

Blog Post: Running for Hen Harrier LIFE

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
This week, we have a very special guest blog from Tristan Reid who is undertaking a challenge of epic proportions, all for hen harriers. Please support him in his effort! .............................................................................................................................................................................. My name is Tristan Reid and I am a very passionate conservationist. I have been raising funds for wildlife conservation projects both in the UK and abroad for a good few years now. I am about to embark on a two year project to raise funds and awareness for the Hen Harrier LIFE Project. The hen harrier is a species that is very close to my heart as it is a bird I used to see frequently during my early adult life on the uplands of Perthshire. I now live in Cumbria and spend a lot of time in the Lake District National Park and the North Pennines in what should be prime breeding habitat for hen harriers. Sadly seeing one of these species in the breeding season has become a very rare sight indeed. The plight of the hen harrier is a sad story in its own right; but it is also indicative of the unnecessary negative impacts caused my man on an ever growing list of wildlife species. I decided that I had to do something significant to raise awareness of the hen harrier’s plight in England. My plan is to run all 268 miles of the Pennine Way non-stop! As if this mileage wasn’t a big enough ask; the 268 mile route includes over 30,000 ft of ascent over some of the toughest terrain in the country! This is going to be a very tough adventure which is the main reason I will be giving myself two years to train for it! The choice of using this route as my challenge rests in its relevance to the cause. The Pennines should be home to hundreds of pairs of breeding hen harriers; but unfortunately only a handful are still extant (and often sporadic in their occurrence). As Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said ‘If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough’. This challenge certainly terrifies me; and it is most certainly big enough! I will spend the next two years training hard by entering many tough ultra-marathons of increasing distances (you can see my 2016 schedule here:  http://www.trisreid.co.uk/94-2/ ) as well as training with sleep deprivation and tired legs! This is going to be a very tough challenge; but one worth doing for such a necessary cause. You can keep track of my progress via my facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/runningforhenharriers/ ) and via my twitter feed (here: http://www.twitter.com/thetrisreid ). You can also show support by donating to the Hen Harrier LIFE project via my Just Giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/HenHarriers Photo credit: James Kirby

Blog Post: Findlay is Wilde about Hen Harriers – Ecotricity guest blog

Thursday, January 7th, 2016
Happy new year everyone! I'm happy to say that we're starting 2016 with some exciting news. Young wildlife campaigner Findlay Wilde has kindly donated his Ecotricity Young Green Britain Award winnings to fund a satellite tag for the Hen Harrier LIFE Project. You can read a guest blog by Ecotricity on Finn's own blog (Wilde About Birds) here:  http://wildeaboutbirds.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/guest-blog-from-ecotricity-hen-harrier.html

Blog Post: All I want for Christmas…

Thursday, December 17th, 2015
What with all the storms passing through recently, I can’t help but think of how hard it must be for our wintering hen harriers to survive out there. Luckily we know our hen harrier Chance is safe in France and data from her satellite tag shows that she has settled for the winter, north-east of Le Mans. It’s likely she’s found an area with a good supply of food. You can follow her movements here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife/chance.html Photo: Chance's wintering location in France Some of our other satellite tagged birds in 2015 were not so lucky. In Bowland this year, one of our satellite tagged birds died along with two of its siblings before fledging the nest. The post-mortems and other tests on the three chicks, including the satellite tagged bird, were inconclusive – they had been partially eaten but we don’t know whether they were predated or scavenged. Our camera footage shows that the juveniles were alive at least two days after tagging and the weather was fair. The close proximity of the three bodies doesn’t suggest predation. We therefore suspect that they succumbed to either disease or starvation and were subsequently scavenged. Happily the fourth chick in the nest did survive and fledged successfully. Some of you may also remember Hetty, a young female satellite tagged on the Isle of Man in July. Sadly she died about a month later and her body was found by our Investigations Team, 2km from her nest site. Again, post mortem results were inconclusive but she likely died of natural causes. Young harriers do find it hard to survive and we know the added threat of illegal persecution makes reaching adulthood even harder. This is why satellite tagging birds is necessary, so that we are able to retrieve bodies and send them for testing to work out the cause of death. Sat tags also allow us to identify important areas for hen harriers when they are alive and track the birds’ movements to understand their ecology. If you agree satellite tagging is important and want to do something to help, Lush are still selling their hen harrier bath bombs over the Christmas period, proceeds of which directly fund our satellite tagging work! Pop along to your local store for some stocking fillers – or just go online:  https://www.lush.co.uk/products/bath-bombs/skydancer-far-madding-guns Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a hen harrier-filled 2016!  Ps you can listen to the RSPB’s Graham Jones on the Talking Naturally podcast about the plight of hen harriers and the RSPB’s commitment to help save the species about 34 minutes in here: https://soundcloud.com/talkingnaturally/tn-ep-016-politics-hen-harriers-and-activism    

Blog Post: Why do hen harriers skydance?

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Watch one of nature's most awe-inspiring spectacles — the hen harrier's skydance — and learn more about their breeding behaviour in this short video. Keep your eyes peeled when visiting the British uplands in the spring and you could be lucky enough to see this for yourself! (Please visit the site to view this video)

Blog Post: Meet Holly and Chance

Friday, October 16th, 2015
Today, we are proud to introduce to you Holly and Chance, two satellite tagged hen harriers that you can now follow online! Our new ‘Meet the Hen Harriers’ feature on the LIFE Project website ( www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife ) has been set up to feature some of the birds that we are satellite tagging through the project. We are tracking as many hen harriers as we can in order to gain a better understanding of the threats they face and identify the places they are most at risk since numbers have declined dramatically, due to intensive moorland management for grouse shooting and illegal persecution. Satellite tagging also allows us to locate and recover dead harriers in a timely manner which will assist the police and our Investigations Team in cases where the cause of death is suspicious.   More and more individuals will be added as the project progresses, and we hope the public will get involved in their life stories. Already Holly and Chance have been displaying some fascinating migration behaviour! “Holly”, the first female harrier, had her satellite tag fitted in June this year by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, assisted by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Police, and was one of three chicks from a nest located on high security MOD land at Coulport. She was named after a member of the production crew from BBC Scotland’s Landward programme, after appearing in a special feature about hen harriers and the threats these birds face from illegal killing. Holly fledged in August and has since left her nest area, moving east into the uplands by Loch Lomond and central Scotland. Holly on tagging day. Photo credit: John Simpson. “Chance” is the second female hen harrier, named by RSPB Scotland, who was tagged in June last year by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group. Chance has provided a wonderful example of how young birds spend their first year. She travelled south from her nest in south west Scotland to the RSPB Wallasea reserve in Essex at the end of October (2014), before crossing the Channel to spend the winter months in the Pays de la Loire region of western France. Chance came back to the UK in spring this year and spent most of the summer in north east England. She has now embarked on her second migration to France, stopping in Wales en route! Chance - photographed at Wallasea last October by Trevor Oakley The maps will be updated every two weeks, showing data two weeks in arrears so that the birds’ exact locations cannot be determined for their safety. Keep tuned!

Blog Post: Hen Harrier talk at RSPB AGM

Monday, September 14th, 2015
Guest blog by Jeff Knott, Head of Nature Policy The last time I gave a talk on hen harriers at an RSPB event, it finished with me and a colleague ripping our clothes off on stage. I suppose it’s not surprising I’ve not been let anywhere near a stage since! But after what I can only presume is a collective bout of amnesia in the events team, I’ll be back talking about hen harriers at the RSPB AGM and Members’ Day on Saturday 10th October at the QEII Centre, London. You can book your place online here . While I’ll certainly be covering the ongoing plight of one of our most threatened birds of prey and the pernicious effect of illegal persecution, the talk will also be focusing on the reasons we can be positive and why I honestly believe we will save our hen harriers. I can’t tell you too much more detail right now. We’re busy preparing things at the moment and I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, but I can promise it will definitely be memorable – we’ve got a trick or two up our sleeves that should make it unique. I’ll again be joined by a glamorous colleague and I doubt what we have planned has ever been attempted at Members’ Day. I promise to keep my clothes on this time though. Probably. No more details for now...If you want to see what we have planned, you’ll just have to be there .

Comment on We’re hiring for hen harriers!

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
I wish the successful applicants much success in their very important roles.

Blog Post: We’re hiring for hen harriers!

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
The LIFE+ Project is advertising two Community Engagement Officer posts, based in northern England and Edinburgh. We are looking for two self-motivated, inspirational people with excellent communication and interpersonal skills to deliver school and college workshops and field trips, community group talks and attend community events. We want to engage with the shooting and land-owning communities communities across the seven key Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for hen harriers in northern England and southern and eastern Scotland that the project focuses on - a large geographic area! The aim of the roles is to raise awareness of the habitat, ecology and threats to the hen harrier as well as the measures to protect these amazing, but declining birds of prey.  For more information, and to apply, please visit:  https://www.rspb.org.uk/vacancies/details/406470-community-engagement-officer-2-roles

Blog Post: Sad news from the Isle of Man…

Friday, September 4th, 2015
Back in July, we blogged about Hetty, a young hen harrier on the Isle of Man, satellite tagged as part of the LIFE project with Manx Birdlife. Unfortunately we have some sad news to report. Transmissions from her tag showed our Investigations Team that she had stopped moving and so they went out to the Isle of Man this week to look for her. Sadly, as expected, she had not survived, and was found only 2km from her nest site. We cannot speculate about the cause of death at this stage, but her body had been heavily predated. Her remains have been sent for post mortem and we are anxiously waiting for the results. This case highlights the potential hardship hen harriers face trying to survive alone when newly fledged from the nest, whether that is difficulty finding food or avoiding adverse weather, predation or illegal persecution. Any hen harrier making it to adulthood to breed is a feat of endurance. Luckily in this case, we had the technology in place to allow us to find Hetty and investigate the reasons for death. We will share the results in due course. We’d like to thank Lesley Cowin who named the bird in memory of her late father Sydney Cowin who bequeathed an amount of money to the local charitable trust, the Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside (SPMC) which part funded the costs of the satellite tagging procedure, and we hope we can work with Manx Birdlife again next year. We’d hoped to feature Hetty’s movements on the LIFE Project website, alongside some other birds tagged this year. This has been delayed because we have been waiting for the birds to move away from the areas where their nests were. We think we should be good to go in a couple of weeks, and we look forward to sharing the travels of these fantastic birds. Watch this space...!

Blog Post: Jenn’s Big Bird Bungee Jump – update!

Thursday, August 13th, 2015
  By Jennifer Lane   Phew!! So as some of you know, this weekend I bungee jumped 300ft to raise money for hen harriers in Bowland. And… it was INCREDIBLE!   We’ve raised a wonderful £543.00 so far. Thank you so SO much to everyone who has donated to this great cause – you’ve been absolutely fantastic !   There’s still chance to visit my JustGiving page and donate: https://www.justgiving.com/Jennifer-Lane2/ And for those who want a bit of a chuckle, here’s it is: https://youtu.be/37mnNK3JZjs (listen out for the squawk…)   Thanks again everyone J ... And here are some great photos of Jenn making the jump, courtesy of Carl Lane.