Join Hen Harrier Day 2015

Just a few hundred years ago Hen Harriers were a widespread and common bird of prey. However this is certainly not the case at the moment as there are only 600-800 in the UK and only four pairs in England last year.

Hen Harriers have been illegally shot since driven shooting first became popular by Queen Victoria in the 1800’s. Grouse shooting takes place between the 12th of August and the 10th of December each year and moors are managed year-round in preparation for this. Species like red grouse are entirely dependent on heather for food and shelter. Unlike pheasants they can not bred in captivity. Instead gamekeepers are employed to manage the habitat by burning patches of heather to create a mosaic of old strands for nesting and young plants for the birds to eat. They also carry out illegal and legal activity and intense control of generalist predators such as foxes, crows, stoats, weasels and birds of prey like our endangered Hen Harriers.

As you may be able to tell from my blog, I really enjoy writing. I also enjoy poetry, even though I’m not very good at it myself! A few weeks back though, I wrote a poem which I thought could be included nicely in this post, here it is.

Beyond the suburb,
not all is as you’d expect.
Look closer in the hills
and in fact, it’s quite a wreck.

Of course there’s still the badger which enjoys a mutter,
the kestrel which glides on the wing,
and the butterfly which has a good flutter.
All real natural and beautiful things.

However Earth’s creatures are under serious threat.
Consumption or persecution, it’s all down to man.
With little help from the Gov or Met,
we must act now and stop bottling the can.

Amongst all ongoings
some know they do wrong.
With evil acts of murder showing,
and them finding the satisfaction strong.

In the back alleys of the countryside
they enjoy to kill in many ways.
No matter what creature it is
as long as it’s open eyed.

First of all, when you hear bang bang,
it may be that from the upland moors.
Competition to shoot from the tweed gangs.
But is it only that bird they’ve mourned?

Not only that bird
but the greed before measured
to them taking a sky dancing treasure.

Trotting on horse back with hounds by side,
within the law and tradition they say.
With bright red hoodies they prop with pride.
Still like little boys who like to play.

Suddenly one squeals as a fox is disturbed,
the hounds ears pricked as it’s fully aware.
The barbaric torture begins as it’s curbed,
flesh torn from the bone as they have no care.

They take no notice of the law,
thinking us ‘tree huggers’ are a joke.
With no thought what they do is vile gore,
you could mistake them for local psycho folk.

Well I tell you for sure we want no more,
we will make that clear
by never giving up, therefore
one day we will win here.

A walk beyond the suburbs
could return to it’s innocence
and those species could roam
like many years ago with brilliance.

A week tomorrow will be Hen Harrier day, just three days before the ‘glorious twelfth’. Events will be happening all over the UK, including the North West and East, Scotland, South and Central England. Hundreds will unite around the country to protest against wildlife crime and the governments failure to tackle the crime which is committed. Although the persecution of Hen Harriers is a big focus point of the day, it is also about rallying against the persecution of other birds of prey which can be found on the shooting estates and the wildlife crime  which takes place here too.

The people who will join together next Sunday are very angry people. They are people who are fed up and want to express their point and they’re all people from different interests. From nature lovers and birdwatchers to ramblers. You can find out more about the events by clicking here.

Other ways you can get involved to help get the message across is by joining the Thunderclap with your social media pages, by adding a twibbon to your profile photo or add your name to Mark Avery’s ban driven grouse shooting petition which has just reached over 8000 signatures! The links are below.

Twibbon – http://twibbon.com/support/hen-harrier-day

Thunderclap – https://www.thunderclap.it/en/projects/28786

Petition – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441

I also found this tweet interesting early, very true and makes you realise how important it is that we need to get the message out there.

BAWC_Slider_Wildlife_Crime_Henry_v1

Urban Peregrine Excitement!

Over the past few weeks and months I have been observing and watching a peregrine falcon in my city centre. The bird has made its home at the Cathedral in my city centre which overlooks the city. Every evening when I have some time spare or whenever I’m making a trip down into town I’ll take my binoculars with me and take a look to see if I can spot it.

The peregrine here isn’t publicised very much but all the local people and the people that work in the area know about it. In past years they haven’t been very successful when breeding. Last year the birds were reported to have had one chick but unfortunately they found a dead bird around the grounds a few weeks after. Up until last week I only ever spotted one bird but when I visited last Sunday it was an absolute delight to see two birds!

I managed to have a chat with one of the people who work on the grounds of the cathedral and they said they found an egg shell just a few days ago which is very exciting! Unfortunately there isn’t a platform up but that hasn’t stopped them.

On Sunday, whilst walking round the cathedral, I couldn’t see it in the places where I normally see it but then I heard an awful screeching noise. As I searched the cathedral with my binoculars I found two birds. One was sitting on a ledge above the other one. This was fantastic to see and a real pleasure. As everyone down in the town got on with their shopping these two birds were presenting a different kind of drama.

I look forward to observing these birds and seeing how they get on in the next few weeks. Here’s a clip that I got.

Hen Harrier Day 2014.

Today, 10th August, is Hen Harrier Day. It is organised by a coalition of Birders Against Wildlife Crime, 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.

Just a few hundred years ago Hen Harriers were a widespread and common bird of prey. Now, in 2014 only three have bred. In 2013 the last remaining Hen Harriers didn’t manage to raise one chick and who knows what will happen to the chicks of this year.

Hen Harriers have been illegally shot since driven shooting first became popular by Queen Victoria in the 1800’s. Grouse shooting takes place between the 12th of August and the 10th of December each year and moors are managed year-round in preparation for this. Species like red grouse are entirely dependent on heather for food and shelter. Unlike pheasants they can not bred in captivity. Instead gamekeepers are employed to manage the habitat by burning patches of heather to create a mosaic of old strands for nesting and young plants for the birds to eat. They also carry out illegal and legal activity and intense control of generalist predators such as foxes, crows, stoats, weasels and birds of prey like our endangered Hen Harriers.

Last year I was out walking with my Granddad near where I live in Staffordshire in a horrible downpour. All of a sudden a large grey bird flew over our heads, at first I thought it may have been a seagull because of the noise it was making but it was much bigger. When I got home I discovered that it was in fact a male hen harrier. The next day I went back to the place where I had seen it and I returned quite a few times after that too. On a couple of occasions I managed to see the bird again but it was from a distance. However I still felt, and still do now, extremely privileged to have seen the bird as I may not ever see one ever again. Here’s a reason why you should get involved and help our Hen Harriers.

To help and get involved you can follow either one of these links for more information, to sign the petition against driven grouse shooting and much more. http://www.raptorsalive.co.uk/    http://birdersagainst.org/projects/hen-harrier-day/

henharrierA male hen harrier – taken by Pete Walkden. You can see more of his bird of prey, including hen harrier, images here – http://www.petewalkden.co.uk/PreyGallery.html