Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership
After another very poor season for hen harriers elsewhere in England, with no successful breeding attempts, the Northumberland population is once again bucking the trend. In 2015 eight young from two nests successfully fledged and last year six young from two nests fledged. This year, three of the five nests were ultimately successful and produced the ten young.
This spring we saw an increase in activity with even more birds performing their spectacular courtship displays known as “sky dancing” and five pairs eventually nesting, four of them once again on land managed by the Forestry Commission.
A dedicated team of raptor conservation volunteers together with specialists from the partnership worked together to watch over all of the nests. Despite some atrocious weather, ten young birds have successfully fledged. All of them were checked and ringed and the partnership is using satellite technology to monitor birds.
The Partnership is also delighted to learn that a young hen harrier named Finn that fledged in Northumberland in 2016 is successfully raising her own chick in South West Scotland. Finn was fitted with a satellite tracker before leaving her nest in Northumberland last year and has been closely monitored ever since. Finn was named after teenage conservationist and blogger, Findlay Wilde, who together with energy company, Ecotricity, sponsored Finn’s tag.
Andrew Miller, Head of Programmes and Conservation at Northumberland National Park, and Chair of the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership said: “Hen harriers are still facing an uphill battle to re-establish themselves in the uplands of England.
“However with the positive support of all our partners including key landowners, ten young birds have successfully fledged. Working together and using the latest scientific techniques is also increasing our knowledge of this amazing species. We will continue to monitor our birds throughout the year and hope that this year’s youngsters will stay safe and be as successful as Finn”
As one of the land managers, the Forestry Commission is delighted that the public forest estate is able to add to the conservation of hen harriers.
Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said:
“Ten fledged hen harriers is superb news for the birds, but also a tribute to the monitoring by wildlife experts and an endorsement that our habitats are well managed for rare species.”
The success of the hen harriers fledging in Northumberland has been supported by a partnership between Forestry Commission, RSPB, Natural England, Northumberland National Park Authority, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, The Ministry of Defence, Northumbria Police, and a dedicated group of raptor experts. Ten healthy chicks on the wing is the best possible reward for the partners’ hard work.
Rob Cooke, Director, Terrestrial Biodiversity at Natural England said: “The increasing success of this population is testament to the continued teamwork of all those involved; it is a great example of what can be achieved where all parties come together in support of hen harriers. It’s tremendous to see Northumberland’s nesting results on the rise.”
Mike Pratt, Chief Executive, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, adds: “What a fantastic thing to have the potential to see so many hen harriers in Northumberland for once! The news that several pairs of hen harriers nested and bred successfully, raising ten young, in the uplands of Northumberland is very encouraging and speaks loudly of the partnership between conservationists locally in protecting the birds, and ensuring that the right conditions exist for them to thrive.”