Hen harriers: Northumberland protection boosts nest numbers

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Hen harriersImage source, PA/Forestry England
Image caption,
The Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership said 18 chicks have fledged from five nests in the county

Numbers of rare hen harriers have been boosted for a seventh year in a row, wildlife experts have said.

The Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership said 18 chicks have fledged from five nests on mainly Forestry England land.

It said the county was now a stronghold for the widely persecuted birds.

The partnership includes landowners, wildlife bodies and police who co-ordinate nest watches, ringing birds and satellite tagging.

Ecologist Gill Thompson, who is chairs the organisation, said: "The species is going from strength to strength in the county and I hope we will have even more successful nests next year."

Image source, Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Image caption,
Hen harriers are the most intensely persecuted bird of prey in the UK, according to the RSPB

Forestry England ecologist Tom Dearnley said: "These figures mark the seventh year of breeding success for what is still an exceptionally rare bird.

"That's down to an effective partnership and excellent, sensitively managed habitats.

"There is much more work to be done, but it is pleasing to reflect that Northumberland is now a key stronghold in England for what we hope is a national resurgence of the species."

Hen harriers, known for their spectacular flight, have traditionally been persecuted as part of grouse moor management.

Historically, they were widespread before being driven to extinction in most of Britain during the 19th Century.

Image source, Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Image caption,
Males of the species have a grey plumage which is strikingly different to the females' colouring

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