Birds of prey are fantastic, awe-inspiring and joyful to see but sadly they are disappearing from our local area. Some of these birds are in decline for a number of reasons including:
- Suspected and confirmed illegal persecution through poisoning, shooting etc. of birds such as hen harriers, peregrines, buzzards, short-eared owls and goshawks
- Declining moorland, woodland and a mosaic of habitat that supports these birds and their young
- The use of rodenticide (rat poison) leading to the poisoning of birds such as barn owls that prey on affected small mammals
Hen harriers: the numbers just don’t add up
One of the most enigmatic and rare birds of prey in England is the hen harrier, also known as the ‘skydancer’ because of its acrobatic, aerial mating displays.
A Joint Nature Conservation Committee commissioned report in 2011 [insert link to PDF] estimated that England could support a potential hen harrier population of more than 300 pairs. In 2013 there were 0 breeding pairs in England, and in 2016 there were 4 breeding pairs. There have been positive updates on hen harrier breeding in 2017 from Northumberland Wildlife Trust and RSPB’s Skydancer blog.
See ‘The Evidence and References’ below for information relating to these issues.