Natural England and companions, together with the RSPB, have recorded 119 hen harrier chicks fledging efficiently from nests throughout uplands in County Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire in 2022 – a report quantity.

This was the primary time in over 100 years that greater than 100 hen harriers had been added to the English inhabitants, displaying actual progress in efforts to guard and restore their numbers.

Hen harriers had been as soon as discovered throughout upland and lowland Britain together with all through many English counties. However after 1830 they turned exceptionally uncommon breeding birds in England resulting from persecution, which was made unlawful within the 1954 however continues in some locations at the moment. The hen harrier now’s considered one of England’s rarest breeding birds of prey.

Hen harriers are considered one of our most distinctive birds with a attribute owl-like face and stiff facial feathers that direct sound towards their ears to allow them to hunt extra successfully.

Hen Harrier, copyright Dean Eades, from the surfbirds galleries

Natural England chair Tony Juniper mentioned: It may be very encouraging to see the progress made this yr on the restoration of this majestic species, tipping the numbers fledged to greater than 100 for the primary time in over a century. It is testomony to the dedication of the volunteers, landowners and employees from all our accomplice organisations who work so arduous to guard, help and monitor these weak birds. Despite this yr’s success, we clearly nonetheless have an extended street to journey to see hen harrier numbers really get well to the place they’d naturally be with out unlawful persecution – with many birds sadly nonetheless going lacking. We are dedicated to persevering with to work with our companions to drive down persecution charges and obtain a everlasting long-term restoration.

This is the sixth successive yr of will increase, following a low in 2016 when solely eight chicks fledged. There had been 49 nests recorded in 2022, of which 34 had been profitable in producing chicks. Lancashire remained a stronghold, with 18 nests recorded in Bowland, and there was additionally a cluster of territories in Northumberland (9 nests). There had been 10 nests throughout the Yorkshire Dales & Nidderdale area, seven within the North Pennines, and 5 within the Peak District. This represents an encouraging enhance in numbers throughout their vary in contrast with the current previous, when only some pairs nested every year, largely in Bowland.

The whole variety of chicks contains 13 birds taken from 4 nests on grouse moors, reared and launched as a part of the Brood Management Trial. This goals to check whether or not this method can affect attitudes among the many moorland group and scale back persecution, in addition to contributing wholesome grownup birds to the inhabitants. Brood-managed birds from earlier years additionally bred efficiently, with 5 birds producing 10 chicks between them in 2022.

Natural England is concerned in quite a lot of initiatives to assist guarantee hen harriers get well together with via the Hen Harrier Action Plan printed by Defra in 2016.

These embody:

  1. Satellite monitoring to enhance understanding of the birds’ actions and behavior
  2. Issuing licences to permit folks to supply extra meals to breeding Hen Harriers (‘diversionary feeding’)
  3. Setting up a undertaking to reintroduce hen harriers to southern England
  4. Working with the National Wildlife Crime Unit, via a secondment of a senior enforcement officer from NE into the police, to ship enhancements in how Natural England, the police, native communities and different related stakeholders can work collectively to stop, establish, and take efficient enforcement motion in relation to raptor persecution incidents.
  5. Brood administration, during which nestlings are taken from grouse moors, reared safely in captivity, and later launched, with the purpose of contributing wholesome adults to the breeding inhabitants, altering attitudes and lowering persecution.

The hen harrier is taken into account weak inside Europe and is on the red-list of birds of conservation concern within the UK. It is a species of principal significance for biodiversity conservation in England.

Read extra in regards to the recording of hen harriers and strategies used to help their restoration in our Natural England weblog.

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