Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hen Harrier Day 2015

I've started writing this blog several times but after reading so many great blogs from other people such as Stuart Pike, Billy Stockwell & Georgia Locock  I didn't see the point in just repeating what everyone else had already written. Yes great rallying speeches from the likes of ChrisPackham & Mark Avery, but what struck me, just like last year, was the amazing and extraordinary voices of the people that gave up their time to attend this years Hen Harrier Day.

Chris Packham as ever delivered a passionate & informed Speech
Mark Avery - A modern day Wildlife Hero
 My experience was different this year as I'd stepped in at the last minute to help marshall the event. This gave me an opportunity to meet some top people and exchange concerns but also talk to lots of supporters as they arrived and try and sell, sorry I mean extract a donation for, a Hen Harrier Day wrist band. People were very generous and they all made it clear that the money raised was going to a great cause & were happy to donate if it was to help BAWC pay for the running of this fantastically important event.

John and 2 of the 4 Hen Harriers that attended HH day 2

The passion & anger was clear from supporters

 I could hear conversations from all around about Hen Harriers and Gamekeepers, but this year the subjects also included the environment and the unbalanced ecosystems that the intensively managed moors create. As Chris Packham said in his speech, we are not yokels, we are educated and well informed. The main difference, to me, between the two sides of this argument are that we see the bigger picture and are concerned about the future and sustainability. Where as the Grouse shooting lobby are just concerned about not changing their way of life, not removing their 'traditions' and of course not eating into their profits. They're not worried about what they will leave for future generations to clean up, and no thought as to whether our children and grand children will be able enjoy sights like the wonderful Hen Harrier.

Brilliant job from Charlie Moores & team organising the event

Since the event I've had several chats on twitter with Country Sport fans who still deny that Gamekeepers are partly responsible for the death of Raptors on the Moors, even after the reports of Annie they say it could have been any one, even that anti hunt groups would shoot her for headlines. How can the interested parties ever work together with these attitudes still in place?

 One other thing that is obvious this year is that the general public are becoming aware of what a Hen Harrier is, still not enough yet though, and the media are talking about it. Articles in the Telegraph and other such like minded papers seem to be shooting themselves in the foot as 'yokels' can see straight through their pathetic attempts to fill heads with nonsense. The RSPB is a really well respected, and deservedly so, organisation and to attack them is very unfair.

Some one is watching from the bushes

 My hope for the next 12 months is that NGO's become a lot tougher. Mike Clarke' talk on Saturday night was good, and his guest blog on Martin Harpers page was a little angrier than some of the RSPB's previous statements, but I still think that trying to negotiate with Grouse Moor owners at the present time is pointless as they seem to have no intentions of altering their ways. Unless all stop killing birds of prey how can numbers increase? We have to push for a ban on Driven Grouse Shooting before it's too late.
Mike Clarke - RSPB standing strong against critisism
Jo Smith from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust spoke with passion but we need to hear ideas and alternatives from NGO's if they are not going to support the ban.
Jo Smith - Spoke with passion but do NGO's needto take a stronger stance?

 For me we need to get rid of driven Grouse shooting not just for the sake of birds of prey but all predators, they like us are just trying to live a life and bring up families. Yes ground nesting birds will suffer losses but who are we to determine what the population levels of wild animals should be? Populations will go up and go down but eventually a natural level will be found. If some species struggle or even go extinct on the moors then that is nature at work, but land owners should not play god and think they can do a better job.

If you didn't attend Hen Harrier Day watch highlights here.

Harry still watches over events

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust show good support this year

Harry is happy to see DWT at this years event

Couldn't resist a chance of a picture in the BUTT

One final note, Just before the 9th of August Tiffany Imogen posted on her website a poem about the Hen Harrier, It is a wonderfully moving poem and gave me goosebumps, please read the poem below.
Sun creeps over thistled moor
and stains the dawn cold,
sanguine gold.
A gangling hare begins
her voyage atop the heather sea,
through bilberry waves and
sphagnum froth she totters and hops,
and stops.
There lies a shadow on the earth.
Look up! Our hare a harrier spies,
bisecting the skies
with aureate eyes
and feathers of darkening cobalt.
Hare retreats; grouse awakens.
Auburn plume and crimson brow,
grouse is wanted by the world.
Hen harrier craves soft flesh
to nourish fragile young,
nestled low in wildling sprigs
exposed to wind and badger bite.
Portly man wants portly fowl
to shoot with steel gun;
a fattened carcass stuffed
betwixt the lips of Dionysus.
Ten thousand moons have
grouse and harrier flown
the heath together.
But man can find profit in Elysium;
he drains life with poison
and powder;
turns wilderness to revenue.
He has thrown our hawks into darkness.
Bright bird of Arcadia
lost upon the moor;
come back.


  1. A fantastic blog Stewart:) I am glad you decided to write one.Thanks also for adding that amazing poem on the end as it is the first time I have been able to read it.

  2. Hear, hear . Nature will find it's own level. Conservation not slaughter

  3. Brilliant blog post! Thanks for sharing the poem too, I hadn't seen it.