Tuesday 15 August 2023


Killing the Skydancer – new podcast from the Guardian about raptor persecution on grouse moors

The Guardian has just released the first episode in a mini-series podcast it has produced called ‘Killing the Skydancer‘, which centres on the illegal killing of birds of prey on driven grouse moors.

Episode one introduces Phoebe Weston (Guardian journalist) who read an article on this blog about how a brood of hen harrier chicks were stamped to death in their nest on a Whernside grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year (see here).

Phoebe was so horrified by the story she says she couldn’t stop thinking about it and it led her to want to find out more. This podcast series is the result of her investigation as she travelled to the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales to look for hen harriers and to interview some people from both the conservation sector and the grouse shooting industry.

Episodes two and three will be out tomorrow and Thursday.

The link to listen to episode one (21 mins) is HERE

Friday 26 May 2023

Bowland Stars

Friday 19 May 2023


Hen harrier ‘disappears’ in Bowland: Lancashire Police appeal for information

Lancashire Police are appealing for information after the sudden ‘disappearance’ of a satellite-tagged hen harrier earlier this month.

This was posted on the Lancashire Rural Police Facebook page yesterday:

Following information being received that a sat tagged hen harrier had gone missing, and the tag suffering catastrophic failure, we have been working with our colleagues in the National Wildlife Crime Unit to try to locate the bird.

Today we have conducted a section 19 search, utilising tracking equipment, where the harrier was last known to be, this was in the Mallowdale area near to Kirkby Lonsdale.

Unfortunately we were not successful in locating the bird, which went missing over the 4th and 5th May, we are asking for anyone who has any information to contact Lancashire Police Rural Crime Task force via 101 or email RuralTaskForce@lancashire.police.uk and quote log number LC-20230516-0307‘.

There aren’t yet any further details about which hen harrier this is.

The harrier ‘disappeared’ the same day that the RSPB announced that 20 hen harriers had ‘vanished’ in the last year alone, most of them on grouse moors (here) and the day before Natural England described the mutilation of another hen harrier, whose leg and head had been ripped off whilst the bird was still alive (here).

The latest disappearance took place a week before the RSPB published a new scientific paper which confirms the ongoing and illegal killing of hen harriers on UK grouse moors (see here).

The latest ‘disappearance’ also coincided with Natural England’s announcement that the five-year hen harrier brood meddling ‘trial’ (conservation sham) is set to continue for a further five years (here), despite knowing that at least 92 hen harriers have been confirmed killed or have ‘disappeared’ since the ‘trial’ began in 2018 (here).

Now there’s yet another one to add to the list. This is the 8th hen harrier to ‘vanish’ since the start of this year, and it’s still only May.

How many more?

UPDATE 19th May 2023: The Forest of Bowland AONB posted the following on its website yesterday:

Yesterday, Lancashire Police’s Rural Crime Taskforce reported the disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier in the Forest of Bowland AONB. 

The bird went missing, with the tag suffering catastrophic failure, over 4th/ 5th May in Mallowdale, an area of moorland to the south of the village of Wray.  The Rural Taskforce and National Wildlife Crime Unit have since carried out a search of the area but have been unsuccessful in locating the missing bird.

Lancashire Police have issued an appeal to the public for information.  Please contact the Rural Crime Taskforce via 101 or email RuralTaskForce@lancashire.police.uk and quote log number LC-20230516-0307.

Elliott Lorimer, Forest of Bowland AONB Partnership Manager commented:

“The disappearance and failure of this satellite tagged Hen harrier is very concerning.  The Forest of Bowland is often considered a stronghold for this protected species, with conservation efforts in the area aiding the recovery of this threatened bird.  So, any loss in such circumstances is particularly upsetting.  I would strongly urge members of the public to contact Lancashire Police if they have any information that could relate to the disappearance of this bird.”