Guest blog by Jeff Knott, Head of Nature Policy
The last time I gave a talk on hen harriers at an RSPB event, it finished with me and a colleague ripping our clothes off on stage. I suppose it’s not surprising I’ve not been let anywhere near a stage since!
But after what I can only presume is a collective bout of amnesia in the events team, I’ll be back talking about hen harriers at the RSPB AGM and Members’ Day on Saturday 10th October at the QEII Centre, London. You can book your place online here.
While I’ll certainly be covering the ongoing plight of one of our most threatened birds of prey and the pernicious effect of illegal persecution, the talk will also be focusing on the reasons we can be positive and why I honestly believe we will save our hen harriers.
I can’t tell you too much more detail right now. We’re busy preparing things at the moment and I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, but I can promise it will definitely be memorable – we’ve got a trick or two up our sleeves that should make it unique.
I’ll again be joined by a glamorous colleague and I doubt what we have planned has ever been attempted at Members’ Day. I promise to keep my clothes on this time though. Probably.
No more details for now...If you want to see what we have planned, you’ll just have to be there.
The LIFE+ Project is advertising two Community Engagement Officer posts, based in northern England and Edinburgh.
We are looking for two self-motivated, inspirational people with excellent communication and interpersonal skills to deliver school and college workshops and field trips, community group talks and attend community events.
We want to engage with the shooting and land-owning communities communities across the seven key Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for hen harriers in northern England and southern and eastern Scotland that the project focuses on - a large geographic area!
The aim of the roles is to raise awareness of the habitat, ecology and threats to the hen harrier as well as the measures to protect these amazing, but declining birds of prey.
For more information, and to apply, please visit: https://www.rspb.org.uk/vacancies/details/406470-community-engagement-officer-2-roles
Back in July, we blogged about Hetty, a young hen harrier on the Isle of Man, satellite tagged as part of the LIFE project with Manx Birdlife.
Unfortunately we have some sad news to report. Transmissions from her tag showed our Investigations Team that she had stopped moving and so they went out to the Isle of Man this week to look for her. Sadly, as expected, she had not survived, and was found only 2km from her nest site.
We cannot speculate about the cause of death at this stage, but her body had been heavily predated. Her remains have been sent for post mortem and we are anxiously waiting for the results.
This case highlights the potential hardship hen harriers face trying to survive alone when newly fledged from the nest, whether that is difficulty finding food or avoiding adverse weather, predation or illegal persecution. Any hen harrier making it to adulthood to breed is a feat of endurance.
Luckily in this case, we had the technology in place to allow us to find Hetty and investigate the reasons for death. We will share the results in due course.
We’d like to thank Lesley Cowin who named the bird in memory of her late father Sydney Cowin who bequeathed an amount of money to the local charitable trust, the Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside (SPMC) which part funded the costs of the satellite tagging procedure, and we hope we can work with Manx Birdlife again next year.
We’d hoped to feature Hetty’s movements on the LIFE Project website, alongside some other birds tagged this year. This has been delayed because we have been waiting for the birds to move away from the areas where their nests were. We think we should be good to go in a couple of weeks, and we look forward to sharing the travels of these fantastic birds. Watch this space...!