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Last modified: 30 March 2011

Female hen harrier carrying nesting material

The RSPB and landowners United Utilities are organising a programme of guided walks exploring the special wildlife of Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland.

There are 11 events planned as part of the year-round Festival Bowland, starting in April and running until the beginning of July.  Each event offers an ideal chance to see Bowland’s iconic bird of prey, the hen harrier, one of England’s rarest birds, along with other upland birds including peregrines and ring ouzels.

RSPB Bowland Project Officer Jude Lane said: “The aim of each event is to give people a chance to explore the United Utilities Bowland estate with a local expert, who can reveal the fascinating wildlife and heritage that is hidden within this rugged and spectacular landscape.

“Bowland’s uplands really come to life during the spring, with the arrival of thousands of migrant birds, some from as far away as Africa.  I hope people will take the opportunity to go walking and find out what makes Bowland such a special place for wildlife.”

For many people the highlight will be the chance to see hen harriers.  Known as ‘sky dancers’ because of the spectacular aerobatics of their display flights, the United Utilities estate is the English stronghold for hen harriers. In 2010 out of twelve nesting attempts in England, ten were on this estate. 

Jude added:  “A sighting of this rare bird is always a highlight on a walk.  Sometimes it’s a fleeting view of a hunting harrier, but we often have close views of displaying birds as well.”

The programme is:

Hen Harrier Safaris: April 8, 16, May 7, 21, 28; June 10, 18; July 1 (4-5 hours, £5)

Discover the wild-side of Bowland on a Moorland Safari.  A five-mile walk to look for special moorland birds including hen harriers, curlews and ring ouzels.

Whimbrel Watch: April 29 (1 ½ hours, £5)

Large numbers of whimbrels (a small relative of the curlew) take a break in Bowland on their long-distant flight from Africa to their breeding grounds in Iceland.  This is a rare opportunity to see these intercontinental travellers in Lancashire.

Tewits and Cheese May 12 (2 – 2½ hours - £3)

Join the RSPB’s Lapwing Project Officer a walk around Laund Farm to look for Lapwings (Tewits), Curlews, Oystercatchers and Redshank.  Laund Farm is the former winner of the RSPB’s Operation Lapwing competition.  At the end of the walk there is an opportunity to taste the delicious Leagram Dairy sheep cheese. 

Birds of Long Preston Deeps June 2 (approx 2 hours - £5)

Take a unique opportunity to visit an area undergoing transformation back to a spectacular haven for breeding wading birds and other amazing wildlife. 

All the walks are expected to be very popular and advance booking is essential. To book a place, phone Pamela Bradley on 01524 581001.  

For more information on Festival Bowland visit

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