"The Hen Harrier goes extinct as a breeding birding in England."
Imagine waking up to that headline. How would that make you feel? Would you feel angry? Would you feel a sense of loss? Would you feel guilty that you didn't try and do more to save them? I would feel all those things, but I would also feel cheated; cheated that one more species from my natural inheritance has been allowed to disappear.
And do you know what, I think that this year will be the one where we wake up to that headline. RSPB's Martin Harper today published a blog giving an update on this year's breeding season, and it does not make good reading. According to Martin's blog there have been "only a tiny handful of nesting attempts to date" and no confirmation of any successful breeding pairs in England. The weather and low vole numbers would not have had the serious impact they are having if we had a healthy number of hen harriers to start with.
I find the hen harrier situation one of the most frustrating conservation challenges. The breeding habitat is there, but the on-going persecution of raptors by a small minority has brought us to this point. There are some people that think they are above the law and the evidence is clear to see; shot, poisoned and trapped raptors across the uplands.
I have written before about the first time I ever saw a hen harrier. It was a stunning male in North Wales. It was a misty morning high up in the moors. My eyes were adjusting to the grey scale colours when this ghostly bird soared effortlessly out through mist and I swear our eyes met for a moment. As quickly as it appeared, it blended back into the moorland; and from that moment I was hooked.
Why should moments like that be taken away from us? Why should someone else, with their finger on a trigger, decide whether or not we get to see sky dancers soaring over the moors.
So are you angry? Have you had enough? Well then you need to do something. You need to stand up and say that you are not prepared to let such an iconic bird go extinct in our lifetime.
It is now 2 years since I made Harry to raise awareness about the plight of the hen harrier, but sadly I am watching the situation go from bad to worse, despite all the efforts of so many dedicated people. But you can't give up, you have to talk more and more about what is happening. You have to all pull together and speak up together.
So please, please tell everyone you know about the plight of the hen harrier and come together at one of the forthcoming Hen Harrier Days taking place across the country. Talk to the people you know there and more importantly talk to the people you don't know. Find out as much information as you can and decide how you want to help going forwards. I have learnt so much more about hen harriers and raptor persecution over the last 2 years.
I will be at RSPB Rainham on Saturday 6th August and I will be giving a talk at the Peak District event on 7th August.
Don't be one of the people that thinks "I wish I'd done more".
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday