What surprises await our threatened raptors on red grouse moors in 2016?
Last year a number of gas guns were strategically installed on moorland in southern Scotland and on one estate adjoining the RSPB’s Geltsdale reserve where they appear to have been used to cause maximum disturbance to hen harriers by frightening them away before settling on moorland to breed. One pair of harriers regularly observed last spring on the Croglin estate were persuaded to up sticks crossing the boundary fence onto the RSPB’s Geltsdale Nature Reserve where they eventually managed to lay a clutch of eggs. Disappointingly the nest and eggs were eventually abandoned by the female hen harrier after her mate failed to return from a hunting trip he had undertaken onto the adjoining grouse moor at Croglin.
In in a recent comment posted on Martin Harper’s blog, it was suggested to the RSPB the Society should this season consider the implementation of suitable contingency plans designed to deal with a repeat of last year’s criminal activity i.e., the licensed collection of all abandoned clutches of hen harrier eggs before they go cold following the disappearance of male hen harriers, placing rescued eggs into suitable incubators.
In a second comment posted on Raptor Politics it was suggested by Terry Pickford any eggs rescued from abandoned harrier nests this season should be placed under the control of a competent and experienced captive breeding establishment where the rescued eggs could be incubated professionally. Any eggs that hatched could then be hacked into the wild in line with DEFRA’s unpopular brood management proposals in the south of England by experienced and trained professionals who deal with captive bred birds of prey for a living. Terry explained the rationale behind his controversial suggestion in this way; we know the reasons why DEFRA would never sanction the reintroduction of fledged hen harriers on grouse moors in the north of England, these birds would never be welcomed by estates or their gamekeepers quickly disappearing presumed to have been shot. All hen harrier chicks produced must each be fitted with a satellite tag before being hacked into the wild in the south of England. Now the important part according to Terry; these harriers must ALL be tracked to establish what happens to them after fledging. If any or all the harriers make their way back onto grouse moors in the north of England and survive for more than eighteen months or longer, this may establish DERFA’s plans are worth more consideration. On the other hand if a majority of hen harriers released in the south make their way north onto grouse moors then subsequently disappear along with their trackers, this would clearly establish the futility of DEFRA’s brood manipulation proposals once and for all.
What ever happens to breeding hen harriers this year on England’s northern uplands, we support Terry Pickford’s suggestion. Making the best use of all hen harriers raised in captivity obtained from abandoned rescued eggs is well worth exploring in the way he has suggested. Utilising abandoned eggs rescued which then hatch and then released reduces the pressure on other dwindling hen harrier populations elsewhere.
Bowland Eagle Owls
attached here. Chrissie, responsibly made no reference to where these birds were established in Bowland, but asked all her followers on FaceBook to support her ‘Save and Protect the Bowland Eagle Owls Campaign .’ A report on Eagle Owls in England pointed out that the eagle owls in Bowland in particular had been subjected to irresponsible disturbance at their nesting sites and was one of the main cause of territories being abandoned.
Legal Loopholes being used to deter raptors from settling on moorland to breed
A fourth male hen harrier reported missing from an active nest in the northern Pennines
Natural England hen harrier satellite tracking programme results
The not so mysterious disappearance of England’s lost Hen Harriers
Raptor persecution in our modern society, a symbol of a feudal system of Raptor Management