Archive for August, 2014

Hen Harrier Day 2014

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

An account of the first Hen Harrier Day at Derwent Dam, August 10th 2014, by David Johnson of the London Peregrine Partnership.

The morning had arrived when I would attend the Hen Harrier Day at Derwent Dam with friends Paul Frost and Chris Sharp and I felt pensive being unsure of what would occur. As we turned up at Derwent the predicted rain was on cue and there were lots of people milling about. At first I didn’t know if they were ramblers or Hen Harrier supporters as everyone was wearing green or black waterproofs and I could only see a handful of white Hen Harrier T-shirts. I need not have worried because they were all Hen Harrier people.

David Johnson wearing his HH Day t-shirt
David Johnson wearing his HH Day t-shirt. Photo: Chris Sharp.

After hanging around for about half an hour we all started walking to the dam. When I arrived I saw the wonderful male Hen Harrier that Findlay Wilde and his brother had made and people were signing the post that supported the bird. The Hen Harrier became a focal point for people to take a photo recording their attendance at the event.

David Johnson and Findlay Wilde's Hen Harrier
David Johnson and fellow HH Day supporters with Findlay Wilde’s Hen Harrier. Photo: Paul Frost. See Findlay Wilde’s HH Day blog post.

We walked over to the bank where Mark Avery and Chris Packham were stood. Mark Avery gave the first speech followed by Chris Packham with Findlay Wilde joining in. They told us just how desperate and pitiful the plight of the Hen Harrier is on the northern uplands of England with only 3 pairs trying to breed instead of the 300 or more that there should be. The reason for this national disgrace is the acceptance by the Grouse industry and their supporters that the illegal killing of Hen Harriers (and other raptors, see Terry Pickford NWRPG On Raptor Persecution July 2014) is allowable and justifiable on Grouse moors. Chris asked the question why is it that there would rightly be a national outrage and severe consequences if he destroyed a national cultural treasure like a Constable landscape but when a gamekeeper / landowner destroys a national natural treasure like a Hen Harrier (of which there are significantly fewer) there is not the same national outrage or severe consequences? He expressed how fed up we all were that after 60 years of waiting for the Grouse industry to get its house in order the situation was now the worst it had ever been with the Hen Harrier on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England. We will wait no longer and have to act now. The first Hen Harrier Day is just the beginning. The speeches ended with Chris Packham’s last words to us “WE WILL WIN!”

Chris Packham and Mark Avery
Mark Avery and Chris Packham address the crowd Photo: Paul Frost.

The 570 hardy souls who made the trip in those horrendous conditions from various parts of the UK showed that people do care about this issue. I was especially pleased to see the Labour MP Barry Gardiner (see interview link, below), the Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment, there and actively participating.

I really hope that together we can end this hideous raptor persecution in the UK once and for all. It will take time, but we are in the right that’s why I believe WE WILL WIN. Please NEVER EVER give up on this we are in it for the long haul.

If you want to help please sign the petition to ban driven Grouse moor shooting.

Videos from Hen Harrier Day: interviews with Chris Packham and Barry Gardiner MP.

Chris Packham’s short film about HH Day. | Lush cosmetics

Some of the 570-strong crowd
Some of the 570-strong crowd that attended the event at Derwent Dam. Photo: Paul Frost.

2014 season update

Friday, August 8th, 2014

If you’re wondering how the birds have fared this season, we’ll bring you a summary at the end of the month when most of the juveniles will begin dispersing.

In the meantime we’re supporting the first Hen Harrier Day, a project which is close to our hearts. The Peregrine Falcon’s colonisation of cities has been a success story. Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and one or two owl species have also found a way to survive in small numbers in our larger parks and gardens, living alongside the city’s human population with little or no conflict of interest. By contrast, those raptors which make their homes on or near grouse moors in England are at a high risk of illegal persecution. The Hen Harrier in particular is in danger of disappearing as a breeding bird, a situation many people would agree is completely unacceptable.

For more information on the plight of the Hen Harrier see Arjun Amar’s recent article for the BOU blog. For more information on Hen Harrier Day please visit the BAWC website. If you’d like to show your support for the Hen Harrier please sign the petition to ban grouse shooting created by Dr Mark Avery.

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