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Celebrate with Skydancer in Cumbria

Last modified: 07 July 2015

Children taking part in Skydancer activities

Children taking part in Skydancer activities.

Image: The RSPB

The RSPB is hosting a special event in Cumbria to celebrate the success of Skydancer, an award-winning project aimed at promoting the conservation of hen harriers, England’s most threatened breeding bird of prey.

The celebration event will be held at Hallbankgate Village Hall on Thursday 16 July and will feature a screening of hen harrier film Skydancer, as well as a range of activities for children. 

Hen harriers breed on remote areas of moorland and as a result, many people have never heard of them. Over the past four years, the RSPB has worked across Northern England including Cumbria to educate and inspire communities about hen harriers and the other wildlife that shares their moorland home. The project has particularly focused on engaging with communities who live near known hen harrier breeding sites such as RSPB Geltsdale in the North Pennines.  

Skydancer is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from the Forestry Commission. 

Hen harriers are nicknamed skydancers because of the male’s aerobatic courtship display, which involves a series of twisting dives and somersaults. There should be at least 300 pairs of hen harriers of Northern England but largely because of illegal killing and disturbance, last year there were only four successful nests.

Since the start of the project, the RSPB has given hen harrier-themed assemblies to more than 1700 primary school pupils and more than 600 secondary school students have learnt about the birds through workshops. The nature conservation organisation has also given talks to groups ranging from bird clubs to the Women’s Institute, and last year the project was awarded the National Lottery Award for Best Education Project.  

Julie Chrisp, Skydancer Engagement Officer, said: “Hen harriers are still in serious trouble in England but the more people who know and care about their plight, the better chance we have of reversing their fortunes.

“Nearly everyone we’ve engaged with in this project over the past four years has shown a real interest in this bird so I am optimistic that they still have a future in England.

“The celebration event is our way of thanking the local community around RSPB Geltsdale who have played a valuable role in the Skydancer project and will also give people who might not know much about hen harriers the chance to find out more about this stunning bird of prey.”   

The Skydancer celebration event at Hallbankgate Village Hall, Hallbankgate on 16 July runs from 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm. Entry is free and refreshments will be available.   

For more information about the project, visit

How you can help

In 2013, hen harriers failed to nest in England for the first time since the 1960s. In 2014 there were three nests. But there is enough habitat for 300 breeding pairs - let's act together to put this right.

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