Chicks for Hen Harrier Recovery Project


Six chicks reared in Yorkshire Dales National Park

Male Hen Harrier
Male Hen Harrier © BirdGuides Ltd

English Nature's Hen Harrier Recovery Project has recorded a great success this year with the fantastic news that six young birds have been safely reared in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the first successful breeding of this endangered bird in the Dales for nine years. The hen harrier is one of England's rarest breeding birds with as few as three pairs nesting in the north of England in 2001.

The nest was discovered in April by the Yorkshire Dales Upland Bird Study Group and has since been closely monitored by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, English Nature and local volunteers from the study group. The pair of birds managed to hatch and rear all six eggs over the summer.

All of the young birds have been wing-tagged to help collect as much information as possible about them as they mature into adult birds and move around the Dales. Radio tags have also been fitted to some of the young birds and this will allow English Nature field workers to follow the progress of the birds once they have left the nest, providing detailed information on feeding areas and their movements.

Richard Saunders, English Nature's Hen Harrier Recovery Project Co-ordinator, said: "The Hen Harrier is close to extinction in England and our project is vital to its survival. We are absolutely delighted that this pair of birds has managed to raise six healthy chicks. They are a credit to everyone involved in the project including the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Yorkshire Dales Upland Bird Study Group and The Moorland Association. We are particularly grateful to the local landowner for allowing us access to the nesting site. The National Park has the potential to support more hen harriers and we hope that this family will be the first step towards establishing a sustainable population."

He continued: "This is encouraging news but we still have a long way to go before we can be satisfied that hen harriers can survive in England without our help in the wild. The hen harrier's future rests on the commitment of landowners, gamekeepers and conservationists to work together and we would like to thank The Moorland Association for their support during the first year of the project."

Ian Court, species officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: "The hen harrier would have once been a regular sight in the Dales. We hope now that the success of the breeding pair marks a new chapter in the hen harrier's association with the Dales. By working with the area's land managers and owners we will aim to prevent any further loss of moorland and moorland fringe, and so protect the hen harrier's preferred breeding habitat, for future generations of this bird."

Additional notes:
  1. English Nature has recently produced a free leaflet about the Hen Harrier - if you would like a copy of The Hen Harrier in England (ISBN 1 85716 622 1), please call English Nature's Enquiry Service on 01733 455100/01/02.
  2. English Nature are interested to hear from anyone who has spotted Hen Harriers when out and about in the countryside. If you would like to report a sighting or find out more about the project, please call Richard Saunders on 01539 792800.

Visit the English Nature website at http://www.english-nature.org.uk.