News archive

July 2015

Monday, 27 July 2015

Hen Harrier Day 2015

Hen Harrier Day 2015

Just a few hundred years ago the hen harrier was a common and widespread bird of prey. Massive changes in land use meant they lost many lowland breeding sites, and they retreated to breed on upland moorland. Relentless persecution by gamekeepers employed on shooting estates followed. That persecution is continuing now. In modern-day Britain our birds of prey are still being killed - only now it's illegal and a wildlife crime.

Hen harriers have the highest level of legal protection available across the UK and the EU, but illegal persecution is having a severe impact on their numbers. They have declined markedly in recent years. Peer-reviewed research suggests that good habitat remains for them, but that there are around 1000 breeding pairs of hen harrier 'missing' from Scotland and around 300 pairs 'missing' from England.

So what's the problem? Hen harriers do try to nest on England's upland moors, but time and time again they aren't successful. In 2013 - for the first time since records began - no hen harriers fledged anywhere in England. In 2014 just a handful of Hen Harriers bred: all required 24 hour protection, and within weeks of fledging several of the radio-tagged young went 'missing' and were never seen again. This year (2015) despite 24 hour protection five male hen harriers hunting away from monitored, active nests 'disappeared' - all within a few weeks of each other. The nests failed. While hen harriers do of course die from natural causes, healthy adults and healthy young are simply disappearing in the vicinity of grouse moors far more often than can be explained by predation or disease.

We are pleased to say that we have booked Dr Mark Avery to talk to us about the plight of the hen harrier and the campaign to ban driven grouse shooting at our April 2016 evening meeting. It promises to be a lively event. His book on the subject, 'Inglorious', will be published shortly.

On the 9th of August - the weekend before the start of the shooting season - Hen Harrier Day will again highlight the scandal of the widespread illegal persecution of hen harriers on upland grouse moors and celebrate one of our most iconic birds of prey. You can add your support by joining the Thunderclap on social media, using Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, and there are events across the country, details of which can be found on the Hen Harrier Day website:

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Saturday 18th July, Coach trip to Stodmarsh

Saturday 18th July, Coach trip to Stodmarsh

This lovely reserve is alongside the River Stour. It consists of marshland containing the largest reedbeds in southeast England. There are also lakes, ditches, wet and dry meadows and wet woodland. This is a great site for hobby; reed, sedge, Cetti's and willow warblers; bearded tit, water rail, snipe, kingfisher, raptors, possible turtle dove, yellow wagtail and garganey. There are also nationally rare plants and invertebrates, including the shining ram's horn snail. Water voles are resident.

There are five hides. Toilets. Refreshments are available at the Grove Ferry Inn, adjacent to the car park. Although entry to the reserve is free, times are hard and we have been asked to take a collection to help with the running costs. We will ask for voluntary donations, suggesting £3.00 per person.

Booking essential. Contact Derik Palmer on 07768 121 435, or email
Paid up Central London Local Group members £18.00, non-members £20.00.
Meet outside Embankment Underground Station. Coach leaves at 8am.

For reserve infornmation go to