United in a weekend for Hen Harriers

This weekend was superb. If you went to a Hen Harrier event you’ll know what I’m on about but if not then make sure you do next year! If I were to sum it up in five words, which is difficult, they would be very inspiring, exciting, lots of motivation, fervent and uplifting.

But why am I using such positive words to describe events which are about a depressing and serious matter? Well, when you hear a lot of negative stories, including the five Hen Harriers which disappeared (yeah, OK) this year, an event like this makes you feel incredibly positive as you see so many people joined together showing their support and feeling the same as yourself. Even though I knew all of these people existed and most of the country, a part from SOME, are and would (if only they knew about what goes on) be opposed and saddened by ongoings of wildlife crime everywhere including upon the upland moors, again it was very positive to be there, see it with my own eyes, and to see that change is definitely happening and that we will win.

Whether it’s the fact many species, including raptors, are being illegally persecuted to protect ones own interest, a bird of prey is being pushed to extinction,  habitats are being damaged or the burning is having a role to play with global warming and flooding, the activity of driven grouse shooting upon upland moors needs to end. This was a key message expressed by all of the speakers at the Hen Harrier events I went too. Along with this the fact that we’re right, we’re backed by science and we deserve justice.

If you’d read a few of my latest posts, follow me on Twitter or even saw me there yourself I spent my Hen Harrier Day up at the Goyt Valley near Buxton, Derbyshire.  As well as this I went along to the Hen Harrier Eve event at The Palace Hotel in Buxton on Saturday. 

When we arrived in Buxton on Saturday afternoon, whilst walking around waiting for the evening event to start, I bumped into quite a few people who were going. Either wearing their t-shirt or I knew who they were already. We even got sat next to two ladies going to the events when we went for something to eat along with some others at our B&B the following morning. Hen Harrier supporters had taken over Buxton!

But this was great! I often see this when I go on street marches, all the people passing by take an interest by what it says on their t-shirt or placard. This also had the same effect at the Goyt Valley when walkers, runners and cyclists passed, along with at the afternoon event in the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton. I heard quite a few people passing and muttering ‘what’s with the black t-shirts’ and so on.

Once at The Palace Hotel for the Hen Harrier Eve event it was great to have a chat with some old and new faces before the talks began. Overall there were a variety of things talked about by each speaker along with a variety of speakers.

First to speak was Mark Avery who was one of the organisers and introduced the evening. He has also had a massive impact on the fight to ban driven grouse shooting with the work he’s done, including his recent book Inglorious and the ban driven grouse shooting petition he set up again this year after last years success of it reaching over 10,000 signatures. So far this year the petition has over 11,000, you can sign it by clicking here.

He was followed by the other organiser, Susan Cross, and also Gordon MacLellan who presented some literature about the Peak District and Buxton, and also included context about Hen Harriers. After this the RSPB’s skydancer video was introduced by Amanda Miller and CEO RSPB Mike Clark said a few words about their hard work on helping the Hen Harrier. It was brilliant to have two people from the RSPB talk, along with Jeff Knot (RSPB) speak at Hen Harrier Day. As well as the RSPB, Jo Smith who is the CEO Derbyshire Wildlife Trust also spoke at the Hen Harrier Day event.

Next was Mark Cocker in conversation with Jeremy Deller. Jeremy Deller is a Turner Prize winner (2004) and has produced such art work as ‘A good day for cyclists’ which shows a massive Hen Harrier clutching a blood red Range Rover in its talons. Whilst in conversation with Mark Cocker he spoke about a lot of his work, including this piece, which was very interesting.

Jeremy Deller, the artist featured in the British pavilion, had one of the most talked about installations at the Venice Biennale preview, attended by critics, curators and collectors from around the world. Photo by mary Louise Schumacher

Then after the interval Mark Cocker gave his own talk. This was about birds of prey in culture across the world with references to his book. As well as Hen Harriers.

Next to speak was Findlay Wilde who said a few words about Hen Harriers before going on to how he made two new brilliant models. One was a grouse butt and another was a massive bottle of poison. With this he showed a video mash-up of how he did so with a sound track created by his younger brother, Harley.  He also announced how he’d persuaded Ecotricity to support satellite tagging of Hen Harriers next year.

Then there was another video mash-up about the adventures of Henry the Hen Harrier around the UK which was created by Phil Walton from Birders Against Wildlife Crime. If you don’t already follow Henry on Twitter then please do at @HenryHenHarrier.

Last, but one, to speak was Chris Packham who was superb and inspiring as usual. He spoke very passionately and expressed his anger of persecution of Hen Harriers, the huge decline of wildlife, Cecil the Lion and much more.

To finish of the evening of talks, there was a quick announcement from Charlie Moores (BAWC) about the exciting arrangements of the next day, Hen Harrier Day.

As I walked up to the venue of Hen Harrier Day at 10am the Hen Harrier thunderclap went out. This reached almost 5.7 million people which was just amazing, lets hope all those people took note of what they read. The thunderclap read…

The location of Hen Harrier Day, in Buxton, was perfect. As the speakers said what they wanted to say you could gaze over onto the moorland. When they spoke you could just picture their dream, and your dream, of what they want that area to look like one day. You could visualise the aim. Along with this, at this location Hen Harriers have been spotted here in the past.

However the image of what we’d all love the upland before us to look like was somewhat shattered and taken over by what it really looked like at that moment. Not a bird in sight, it looked dead and you could see the areas where it’s been burnt for intensive driven grouse shooting. But this brought no one down, in fact it gave more motivation. Along with the inspiring and wise words from those who spoke and being surrounded by those who care immensely.

Speaking at the event was Charlie Moores, Mark Avery, Chris Packham, Jeff Knot (RSPB) and Jo Smith (The Wildlife Trust). The talks started about 11am and ended just before 1pm. Then after that many still gathered, chatted and after a while some headed down to Buxton Pavilion Gardens as there were a few stalls, along with lots of interest from people passing by.

As I’ve mentioned, and you can probably tell, it was a fantastic weekend as I’m sure were all the other events happening around the country and I look forward to next year. It feels very odd today after such an exciting weekend! But also on a more serious note, lets hope yesterday made an actual difference and this continues as we won’t be stopping until it does.

Here’s another tweet from Birders Against Wildlife Crime which sums it all up very nicely.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

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A weekend for skydancers

From my latest post you’ll know that this Sunday is Hen Harrier Day. Not only that but on Sunday a thunderclap will be sent out stating that we’re missing our Hen Harriers which has so far got a social reach of just over 5.5 million people which is amazing! Don’t forget to add your support by clicking here, it all helps!

As well as people meeting all around the UK to show their support, anger and make it clear that we won’t tolerate wildlife crime, there is also an evening event in Buxton tomorrow which I’m also sure will be great fun and inspirational too.

If you can’t make any of the events this weekend then there’s still plenty you can get on with that WILL make a difference. Even if it’s just posting a selfie with a ‘we’re missing our Hen Harriers’ poster on your Facebook and someone who knew nothing about the issue saw it, that’s one more person that’s now aware and could potentially show their support. Other ways you can help include…

Adding your name to the Thunderclap – https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/28786-hen-harrier-day-2015

Adding a twibbon to your profile photo on social media – http://twibbon.com/support/hen-harrier-day

Buy a Lush Hen Harrier bath bomb. They came out today and look amazing – https://www.lush.co.uk/products/bath-bombs/skydancer-far-madding-guns

Sign the petition against driven grouse shooting, already over 10,000 signatures! – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441

Post a selfie with the ‘We’re missing our Hen Harriers’ poster – http://henharrierday.org/gallery-missing.html

So, altogether, just get the message out there in any way you possibly can.

I also advise you listen to this superb Talking Naturally podcast featuring Charlie Moores and Chris Packham – http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/content/talking_naturally.aspx?s_id=282761936



You can read more about Hen Harrier Day, why it’s such an important day and much more on my latest blog, with a poem I wrote too – https://georgiaswildlifewatch.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/join-hen-harrier-day-2015/


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.


United Against Wildlife Crime

The wildlife you see whilst out and about is without a doubt our real national treasure. These species were here a long time before us or any of our man-made national treasure and this is an important reason why we need to preserve them and stop them suffering due to wildlife crime.

This was illustrated with the first talk of the day by Broadcaster and Naturalist, Chris Packham. He destroyed a copy of a George Constable painting by attacking it with spray paint and tearing it apart. A painting by the artist George Constable is considered a national treasure and if someone was to destroy the original painting they’d be considered to have destroyed a national treasure. Due to this there would be all sorts of havoc. It would most definitely be top headlines on the news, in newspapers, online and the offender would get into serious trouble. But what about those people who go out and destroy the British countryside by killing species within it, surely they should be getting the same punishment however this isn’t the case.



Yesterday I attended the Birders Against Wildlife Crime ‘Eyes in the Field’ conference in Buxton, Derbyshire. I arrived at about 8.20 and straight away I was able to engage with like minded people. This theme carried on throughout the day as I spoke to plenty of fantastic people and listened to a variety of inspirational and interesting talks. To pick a favourite talk would be impossible as they were all very good and including a range of important topics, from policing and the public engagement to investigations and politics.

After the talk by Chris Packham it was then onto the next one from CEO Badger Trust and Policy Advisor Care for the Wild, Dominic Dyer. He spoke about the badger cull and his recent meeting with the Environmental Secretary, Liz Truss which was very interesting and you can read more about it by clicking here. I found his talk very interesting as I feel very passionate about badgers and I am strongly against the suffering they put up with including the cull. I’m really looking forward to helping out with badger vaccinating soon. Next it was a talk about bats, how they suffer from wildlife crime and the laws to do with them. This talk was given by Malcom Hopton from Derbyshire Bat Conservation. Again I found this talk very enjoyable, as in the past I have done conservation work for bats which included going out with the East Staffordshire Bat Group and monitoring the bats at one of my local patches, Cannock Chase.

After the morning coffee break the day resumed with talks from two different investigation officers. One was Bob Elliot who is Head of Investigations for the RSPB and the other was Paul Tillsley who is Head of Investigations for the League Against Cruel Sports. These two talks were a real eye opener about wildlife crime as they made me realise how serious it is and how some people can be so evil against our national treasures. They both spoke about different case studies along with methods wildlife criminals use and how both organisations help to stop and solve wildlife crimes. They also gave an important message about how we all must remember to report wildlife crimes as if it wasn’t for people like you and me reporting them then they wouldn’t be able to stop the criminals committing their crimes.

It was then time for lunch and during the lunch break all the people who had attended, including the speakers all made their way to the front of the hotel to have a photo with the new Birders Against Wildlife Crime Hen Harrier Day banner. The Hen Harrier is a bird that has suffered incredibly from wildlife crime and due to this they have been pushed to near extinction in England. There are a number of different things that you can do to help our hen harriers, one of them is by voting for it for the National Bird and you can do so by clicking here.


Here’s the photo and there you can see Henry the Hen Harrier!

After lunch, the afternoon started off with three different talks about wildlife crime and the police. As you can imagine this was a very important and interesting start to the afternoon. Obviously without the police we wouldn’t be able to punish the criminals who commit crimes against wildlife. The first talk was by Craig Fellows and he spoke about police wildlife crime training which was very interesting and similar to the local meetings that I attend about wildlife crime and strategies they undertake in my area to deal with wildlife crime. The next talk went against this slightly as Ruth Tingay spoke about the failure of wildlife crime enforcement in Scotland. The final talk of this part was by Alan Charles who was the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner. Like the others, his talk was very interesting and he spoke about how his force is dealing with wildlife crime.

It was then onto the last group of talks for the day which were about politics and public engagement. It consisted of two talks, one from Chris Williamson who is the North Derbyshire Labour MP and the other from conservationist Mark Avery. These talks were both very engaging and between them they spoke about a range of subjects from the Badger Cull to Hen Harrier Day 2015. Chris Williamson was another passionate speaker who shared some great stories about his times out with the hunt saboteurs. So was Mark Avery who spoke about Hen Harrier Day 2015, which I’m very much looking forward to!

As you can see Saturday was a very inspirational day for me, it was also very important. As I stated at the start we need to preserve and stop our real national treasures from being destroyed. With help from enough people like those who I met on Saturday we can do that. After the conference I realised how those wildlife criminals, pro-hunting politicians etc have no chance and we will win.