There were only seven successful hen harrier nests in England this year. 

The annual hen harrier survey of England found that only 12 pairs attempted to nest, despite evidence showing there is enough habitat for over 300 pairs. Seven successful nesting pairs is one more pair than nested successfully in 2009, but it is only half the number of successful nesting pairs just three years ago, graphically illustrating the continued danger of such a small population slipping into extinction as an English breeding species for a second time: historically, the hen harrier was persecuted to extinction across mainland Britain.

I think you know what the RSPB thinks about this situation, so let's see what others say:

Detective Inspector Brian Stuart, Head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “Last year England again produced a disappointing number of young hen harriers. The police will continue to work with our partners in conservation and land management to support the survival of the hen harrier in the Forest of Bowland whilst identifying ways to prevent criminality and enforce the laws wherever they have been broken.”

Tom Franklin of the Ramblers said: “One of the joys of walking in the British countryside is the chance to witness our beautiful native birds of prey. To suddenly see them soar above you can instantly lift your spirits. You feel so close to wild nature. It is a tragedy that hen harriers are no longer seen across large swathes of upland England. The Ramblers is at one with the RSPB in calling for greater protection for these birds.”

Paul Irving, Chairman of Northern England Raptor Forum, said: “A change in the legislation and enforcement is long overdue to more effectively protect the last few pairs of what is one of our most charismatic birds and to allow them to thrive and spread. We will all be the poorer if the hen harrier is lost from English uplands where it truly belongs.”


  • Jockeyshield - interesting, thank you.

    Derek Moore - Welcome back!  I agree with you - I usually do!

    bordercollie - quite right.

  • You are quite right Derek, no ideas unless they are coupled with some prosecutions will have any impact on the persecution of hen harriers. Regarding your comment about Scotland, in the whole of Grampian Region, far bigger than Bowland, there were only 5 successful nests this year, & 5 eagles have been found poisoned in the Highlands.

  • Dreadful news but not surprising.  In Scotland they are at least moving in the right direction but how is it that no prosecutions have been brought in Northern England?  The prosecution of a high profile landowner would surely be the ultimate deterrent to others.

    The persecution of Hen Harriers and all other Birds of Prey in the UK is hugely embarrassing for us as a country especially when we are trying to discourage the destruction of habitats and species elsewhere.

  • One of the problems when you create a 'mono culture' is the the limited amount of food available. Now that it is proved Black Grouse do not want this type of management then any payment by HLS must go for diversification not solid heather which is what most of them are paying for. This will offer the harriers a choice of food not just Red Grouse. The moorland association has claimed that £50 million has been paid out already in England just for new heather areas!!

  • One can only say hear, hear, to those comments. The Scotish Government seems to be showing the way in Ms Cunninham's proposal to amend their legislation to make land managers and owners responsible for any poisoning or shooting of protected birds in Scotland. The same proposal should of course be initiated in England. While hen harriers do take red grouse surely in the context of the numbers of red grouse and the numbers of hen harriers their take must be a tiny proportion. So is it really grouse moor landowners just being a bit greedy and antediluvian in there attitudes? I know the RSPB has or is doing project work with one or two well disposed land owners to try to find ways of lessening any small impact that harriers might have on grouse numbers, let's hope that project has some success. It would be a disgrace in this day and age if hen harriers became extinct in England. Let's hope this "Greenist Government Ever" agrees with this and supports an amendment to the law.