Whatever your bank balance... you are soon likely to be poorer.

It’s not your account you should be looking to. It’s not your savings, nor the things that you own that is under threat. It’s a bird. A bird that weighs less than a single standard house brick.

The average adult human brain is two and a half times heavier and we must all now put this hefty muscle to use if we are to prevent this one species from tipping over the edge of the abyss that would mean extinction.

The hen harrier is England’s most threatened bird of prey with studies finding just four breeding pairs left in the country. That’s down twelve compared with 2010.

They used to be seen across England and you could set off from London for a winter walk along the Thames Estuary safe in the knowledge you’d return having seen one against the cold grey skies. If you see one there now, consider yourself luckier than a lucky black cat that’s just strolled slowly across the M25 in the dead of night during a rally of blindfolded drivers in steam rollers organised by the dangerous sports club.

Hen Harrier Day 2016 sign at Rainham Marshes

So what is it about the hen harrier that is pushing them towards oblivion? There is plenty of suitable nesting space. There is plenty of food, and plenty of water.

As poet Lorna Faye state :

These hen harriers are fewer than few,

so many nests empty the skies lacking too,

these incredible birds are now on the brink

of being wiped from our moors with no time to rethink.

It’s enough to make any really wild heart sink..


The truth is, illegal human activity is the engine powering them after the dodo and we desperately need to stall that engine.


Hen Harrier day 2017 takes place on 5 August and is organised by Birders Against Wildlife Crime. Their aim is to celebrate this amazing bird and who could not find a creature that performs intricate balletic performances mid-air amazing? Anyone who witnesses one of these dances can’t help but feel exhilarated and elated. I fear without more voices demanding hen harriers be given the full and proper protection of the laws which already exist, our future will be poorer.


Chris Packham will be cheerleading for the harriers at RSPB Rainham Marshes this year, while one of the RSPB’s key investigators, Mark Thomas, will be on hand to give testimony of the activities frustrating efforts to save the species. Please do hop on a C2C train from Fenchurch Street or Stratford and leap off at Purfleet to join them on the reserve nestled between the A13 and the Thames on 5 August.