Majestic Predators return to the Sheffield Lakeland

This year (2019) has seen the return of a breeding pair of Goshawk to the Sheffield Lakelands, laying four eggs and three young, of which two successfully fledged over the summer. Goshawks were once extinct in the UK, but this area of South Yorkshire became a stronghold for their recovery in the 1960’s before suffering significant declines, in the 2000s, with the result that no birds have bred successfully for years.

This charismatic and secretive raptor is one of the key species that the Sheffield Lakeland Partnership is working toward protecting and supporting. As part of a four year National Lottery Heritage Funded project, raptor experts (The Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group) and key habitat managers (Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Yorkshire Water and Sheffield City Council) are working together to make sure the land management they undertake results in suitable nesting and rearing sites for these birds through to 2035 and beyond. Loss of habitat, persecution and disturbance have all been identified as putting these birds at risk, but by working together, the partners can positively influence habitats and manage the landscape in such a way as to minimize disturbance.

Mike Price, Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group said,

‘It is encouraging to see these fantastic birds returning to historic breeding sites in the Dark Peak. We hope that a corner has been turned and that Goshawks, alongside other larger raptor species such as Peregrine Falcons and Common Buzzards will continue to thrive.

A recent peer reviewed paper published in British Birds highlighted concerns regarding illegal raptor persecution and the disparity in site occupation and success rates for Goshawk and Peregrine Falcons between the White Peak and the Dark Peak areas of the Peak District National Park.’

People can visit this website to find out more: https://britishbirds.co.uk/raptor-persecution/

Liz Ballard, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust Chief Executive

‘We should all be able to see amazing birds of prey like Goshawk, Hen Harriers and Short Eared Owls when we walk across our Sheffield Moors. They are part of nature as well as our own heritage and culture.  The reasons they are missing are varied and complex. But Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is determined that these fantastic birds will return to our countryside and that it will not be an exceptional day when chicks like these successfully fledge or that you are lucky enough to spot a goshawk or hen harrier soaring overhead. We work positively with landowners, land managers and dedicated groups like PDRMG to ensure there is space for these birds in our busy countryside and we will continue to works toward stopping the illegal persecution of birds of prey.’

David Renwick, National Lottery Heritage Fund

‘Looking after nature and helping people to understand its importance has never been more urgent and the National Lottery Heritage Fund is committed to supporting projects that work towards protecting and enhancing wildlife. We are delighted that money raised by National Lottery players is helping with monitoring and habitat management that will support these beautiful birds of prey and raise awareness of what we can do to support their numbers to grow. By working in partnership across landscapes we hope that people can work together to build sustainable and lasting change that provides positives for wildlife and communities.’

Keith Tomkins, Sheffield Lakeland Project Manager

‘I’m delighted that these birds have returned to successfully breed in the Sheffield Lakeland landscape.  By working together with our partners, we hope to learn much more about this magnificent bird and how we can all manage our land better to help this species thrive.’

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. Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust are currently campaigning to end the illegal persecution of wildlife, especially our local birds of prey, many of which are internationally important or are locally rare such as the hen harrier, peregrine and goshawk. Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust will continue to campaign for and monitor the numbers of these beautiful birds. Find out more here.


Photos: (c) Mike Price, Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group.