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


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.”

Monday 19 September 2022

Insect photos from the farm by Rod Everett


Tuesday 8 March 2022

Hen Harriers (not) in Bowland

Six more satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ in suspicious circumstances

Six more satellite-tagged hen harriers have gone missing in suspicious circumstances, according to the most recent data published by Natural England last Friday, 4th March.

Natural England’s previous hen harrier update, published in December 2021 (here), identified three other tagged harriers that had vanished in the summer/autumn of 2021.

Now there are six more. Three disappeared in November 2021, one in December 2021 and two in January 2022. Neither the police or Natural England have issued any media press releases or made any public appeals for information about any of them.

[Photo by Dave Soons]

Here are the details of the latest six to vanish, in chronological order:

Brood meddled hen harrier R2-F1-20, female, hatched in 2020 at nest site BM R2 Cumbria, last known satellite tag fix on the edge of a grouse moor (believed to be on Arkengarthdale Estate) in the Yorkshire Dales National Park on 15th November 2021, grid ref: NY959039.

Hen harrier Val (Tag ID 213849), female, hatched in North Pennines in 2021, last known satellite tag fix in Cumbria, west of Coniston Water on 19th November 2021, grid ref: SD256921.

Hen harrier Percy (Tag ID 213847), male, hatched in Northumberland (nest site Northumberland 1) in 2021, last known satellite tag fix in the Scottish Borders nr Fala Moor on 19th November 2021, grid ref: NT410615.

Hen harrier Jasmine (Tag ID 213848), female, hatched in Cumbria in 2021, last known satellite tag fix on a grouse moor (High Rigg Moor, Middlesmoor Estate) in the Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire on 12th December 2021, grid ref: SE034733.

Hen harrier Ethel (Tag ID 213852), female, hatched in Northumberland (nest site Northumberland 2) in 2021, last known satellite tag fix in Hexham on 9th January 2022, grid ref: NY936632.

Hen harrier Amelia (Tag ID 213846), female, hatched Bowland in 2021, last known satellite tag fix in Bowland on 26th January 2022, no grid reference provided.

These suspicious disappearances are no longer shocking, not even when six of them are reported at the same time.

The complete lack of media appeals about any of them from Natural England and the various police forces is no longer shocking.

The lack of prominence in the recent update blog that Natural England has given these latest disappearances is no longer shocking.

The zero prospect of any so-called investigation progressing to a prosecution is no longer shocking.

The complete silence from the grouse-shooting industry about this continued organised crime is no longer shocking.

It’s all just so routine, isn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be. It’s up to you, as blog readers, to bring this scandal to the attention of your elected representative(s) and demand that they put pressure on the Government to take action.

I’ll update the ever-increasing list of hen harriers known to have been illegally killed in the UK or that have vanished in suspicious disappearances since 2018, most of them on or close to grouse moors, and will post it here shortly. It would be good if you could then send that list to your local MP so they can’t claim to be ignorant of what’s going on.

Monday 10 May 2021

The Wonderful Gift of Dandelions

Thursday 29 April 2021

Fell Pony Adventures, Cumbria