Hen Harrier numbers on the rise

A record breaking rise in the numbers of the rare Hen Harrier is expected across the area states the Moorland Association.

By Janet Harrison
Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 11:50 am
A Hen Harrier at Swinton Estate. Picture: Moorlands Association.
A Hen Harrier at Swinton Estate. Picture: Moorlands Association.

Swinton Estate was one of the sites in the area where land managers have reported successful nests on Moorland and it is thought that at least 77 chicks have fledged across North Yorkshire, Northumberland, County Durham, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Lancashire.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “This is another excellent year for hen harrier breeding and the wonderful pictures and footage we are seeing from our members’ moors is truly heartening.

“Three good years in a row shows that we have the right strategy to help the population to recover to a sustainable level, occupying a much greater area of England.

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“The management carried out on grouse moors by gamekeepers provides an ideal habitat for birds of prey, with fewer predators to steal their eggs, and good numbers of prey species such as small mammals and other birds.

“We will continue to support initiatives that are delivering results for the UK’s Hen Harrier population.”

The Moorland Association represents owners and managers of more than a million acres of moorland in England and Wales.

The association aims to conserve heather moorland by conserving red grouse, and raising awareness of farming best practice, ecology and the importance of the moors.

Last year, there were 19 successful Hen Harrier nests, of which 12 were on moors managed for red grouse and 60 chicks fledged.

This year’s data shows a further improvement in the population, following on from 2020 which was in itself a record-breaking year for Hen Harrier breeding on grouse moors.

Hen Harrier breeding and the number of fledged chicks have shown what experts say is remarkable progress since the introduction of the government-led Hen Harrier recovery plan in 2016 and the availability of the Brood Management trial two years later.

“Upwards of 230 chicks have fledged, many benefiting from being fed additional food by gamekeepers,” said a spokesman for the Moorland Association.

“The innovative Brood Management Trial involves grouse moor managers and conservation organisations working together, under strict licence, to test the best chances of nesting success for this very rare bird.”

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