The 1st Hen Harrier Day 10th August 2014
As I was driving towards Derwent Dam I was hoping the weathermen had made a mistake and there was to be no rain. I pulled up around 07:50, in one of the free car parks as I’m tight like that, and was pleased that is wasn’t raining. I put on my waterproofs any way as I think deep down that I knew the heavens would open in the not too distant future. My second thought was, would the weather put people off and the number of attendees be disappointing?
|View from the Car park|
I met up with some friends from the Derbyshire Wildlife trust (DWT) and we made our way to the meeting point where the more frivolous drivers had parked. More familiar faces started to appear as more protesters arrived and before we knew it cars were having to turn back and find alternative places to park.
At 09:40 the call to arms came and we all made our way down to the dam, it was truly a wonderful sight as a mass of protesters brollies formed a bulging river of colour. This made a nice change to the usual sea of green & brown that is always popular with birders (including myself).
|A river of colour|
By the time we all settled in front of the dam everyone was soaked, but no one was complaining. We were all here for one reason and the weather could not dampen our spirits. Mark Avery, who had helped organize this event along with Birders Against Wildlife Crime, called everyone forward to start proceedings.
|The people gather|
Mark talked about the reasons he had wanted to create an event to highlight the persecution of our Hen Harriers. He reminded us of how a group of people in 1932 held a mass protest on Kinder to end restrictions of access for the common people to the uplands of The Peak District. All in the crowd were inspired by what Mark had to say.
|Mark Avery talks to the masses|
He then handed over to Chris Packham who delivered a passionate speech that was spoken with clear frustration in his voice.
A huge cheer was heard when Owen Paterson was referred to as the ex-Secretary for the environment, and a round of applause was given to the current shadow minister Barry Gardiner. He was welcomed into the fold of the ‘Green blob’, he later tweeted ‘he was proud to be part on the Green Blob’.
A young man named Findley Wilde was then invited along with his brother Harley to take centre stage and talk about his 6ft model Hen Harrier and what had inspired him to build it. An example to us all he is certainly the future of conservation. (You can read his Blog here).
|Chris acknowledges Findley Wilde|
Chris then used the example of the Marsh Harrier to highlight that with the right will a species can make a recovery.
|Chris Packham inspires the crowd|
He then had a pop at the shooting fraternity, ‘we’ve tried to trust you to work with us, but you have failed us. Sort out the bad apples in your barrel, otherwise we’re gunning for you, and we will win!’. This was greeted with the loudest cheer of the day from every one present, well almost. The wildlife NGO’s were mentioned too, having failed to do enough to bring this issue to the forefront while numbers of Hen Harriers are still falling. An olive branch was offered to all people involved, noting that if we all work together and compromise we can all prosper.
The speech ended with a quote from Ghandi, ‘first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’.
|Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with Chris, Mark & Findley|
After the speeches had ended Findley’ Hen Harrier became the main attraction as all of the organisations present used it as a great focal point for photographs, The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Hawk & Owl Trust, BAWC and others will hopefully get some great publicity from the event to push the issue forward.
I hope that the momentum gained from this event can now be maintained and more ideas, to keep the plight of our birds of prey in the forefront of people’s minds, will follow . My worries earlier about number were unfounded as around 570 protesters turned up, and everyone’s spirit was high at all times, like minded birders and nature lovers had all come together to load our gun and point it directly at the law breakers that are murdering our birds.
More details of Mark Avery’ petition for the banning of Driven grouse shooting, which has over 19,000 signitures can be found here. I was originally not against Grouse shooting but as I have learned more about this industry, and that's what it is, it's plain to see that most that are involved have no respect for the environment or the natural world. Hen Harriers like other predators are not welcome anywhere near their moors, there is too much money involved and they won't tolerate any creature that eats into their profits.
Marks Blog covers all aspects of conservation and is definitely worth a read, it’s also probably the best place to keep up to date with the Hen Harrier protest. (find Marks Blog Here)
|My Selfie with Chris|
|Very pleased to get a Selfie with findley|
The #sodden570 have inspired me to do more and I am very proud to be counted as one of them.