Hen Harrier Day: “We will win”

What an absolute privilege it was to be part of the 570-strong crowd at Derwent Water today for the inaugural Hen Harrier Day. 570 people, from Inverness to the Isle of Wight, who wouldn’t even let ex-Hurricane Bertha stop them from coming out to stand together and say they’d had enough of illegal hen harrier persecution. Strong, resolute and defiant; even if the dam’s wall had burst they’d still have stood firm. The cheers and applause that greeted Chris Packham’s closing statement, “We will win“, could probably be heard throughout the Dark Peak. Long may it resonate.






That guy in the blue coat holding up his phone (below) – that’s Barry Gardiner MP, the Shadow Environment Minister.


The woman in the blue coat (below) – that’s Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, who appeared to be recording the speeches – perhaps the MA are getting a bit jittery?



“We will win”






Of course, illegal hen harrier persecution isn’t restricted to driven grouse moors in England. Here’s a quick overview of the issue in Scotland (info from the 2011 Hen Harrier Conservation Framework & the 2010 national survey):

  • The potential national hen harrier population in Scotland is estimated (conservatively) to be within the range 1467-1790 pairs.
  • The current national hen harrier population in Scotland as recorded during the most recent (2010) national survey is 505 pairs, more than a 20% decline from the numbers recorded during the 2004 national survey.
  • In Scotland, the hen harrier has a favourable conservation status in only five of 20 regions.
  • Two main constraints were identified: illegal persecution, and in one region, prey shortages.
  • The species is particularly unsuccessful in the Central Highlands, Cairngorm Massif, Northeast Glens, Western Southern Uplands and the Border Hills. There is strong evidence in these grouse moor regions that illegal persecution is causing the failure of a majority of breeding attempts.


This is what solidarity looks like (thanks Chris & Mark for being good sports!). Special mention to Findlay Wilde and his Dad for bringing along this spectacular centre piece.


Why not join 13,000 other voices and sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.

Media coverage of Hen Harrier Day in the Peak District:

Read Mark Avery’s take on the day here

Read what Guy Shorrock (RSPB Investigations) had to say here

A blog about the event from Alan Davies (The Biggest Twitch) here

Findlay Wilde’s blog about the day here

Article on Birdwatch website here

A blog about the event by Stewart Abbott here

A blog about the event by Ginny Battson here

Hen Harrier Day in pictures on RSPB Skydancer blog here

Watch Mark Avery & Chris Packham deliver their speeches (filmed by Stephen Cummings aka @TheBaldIbis) here

A video from the day, filmed and produced by Chris Packham’s ‘team’ here

16 Responses to “Hen Harrier Day: “We will win””

  1. 1 Sebastian
    August 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Fantastic turnout, congratulations to organisers and all activists present (and the many more unable to be there)!

    • 2 Terry Smith
      August 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Ah I am so,so pleased,that this was such a ‘Great Success’ ,and just let us hope that this sad issue,ends with a ‘Positive Result’ And a big well done,to all of those that got actively involved.!!!

  2. 3 Chris Roberts
    August 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Congratulations to everyone involved, in all areas, on this first fantastic Hen Harrier day.

    The glorious 10th. – far more positive than the inglorious 12th..

  3. August 10, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    I attended the meeting at Dunsop Bridge, Trough of Bowland. About one hundred were there despite horrible weather conditions. It was great to be part of it.

    Terry Pickford the organiser and speaker asked all to start writing to their MP’s, United Utilities (they have a grouse shoot on their land in the Bowland area) also write to any other business allied to the shoots.

    It is time to see the end of these cruel and pointless activities. Time to prosecute the estates for their criminal activites.

    Only by greater vigilance from the public can we hope to put these criminals where they should be.

    My MP has now received this email:

    I am supporting the protection of birds of prey in the UK.

    I wish to know why the criminality of the shooting estates is not pursued through the laws of our land?

    Most and probably all shooting estates carry out criminal activities by persecuting birds of prey.

    Hen Harriers are on the verge of extinction caused by shooting estate management. Many other birds of prey are targeted by these criminals.
    The laws of our land do not deter them and are rarely used against them. Their wealth and influence seems to protect them from investigation
    Will you bring pressure to bear on these criminals to stop their illegal persecution of birds of prey?

    The practises of the shooting estates for grouse and pheasant are archaic, cruel and rife with criminal activity.
    Anything that may eat the birds they want to shoot is deemed to be the enemy and must be eradicated, even though it is illegal.

    The methods they use include shooting, trapping (illegal traps are used), poisoning (using banned pesticides), disturbing nesting sites and the destruction of eggs and chicks.

    This not an uncommon activity but they continue to be above the law.

    When Benyon MP was minister for DEFRA, he tried to introduce the culling of buzzards to xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx [Ed: removed the rest of this statement as not sure it’s accurate]. All this just to shoot the pheasants.

    It is time in our modern society to rid the countryside of “shoots”. What are they for? To entertain the primitive mindset of people that should be setting good examples. Many of the government including the PM and other politicians carry out these activities. They do not fulfil a need for food, most of the dead birds are just waste. They are cruel, unnecessary and damaging to the environment.

    Why has the government increased the subsidy to these very rich estates, almost doubling it to £58 per hectare per annum. Most estates have many thousands of hectares. This is a pay rise for the very rich, in a time of austerity? Why have gun licence charges not been increased for very many years from the £50 currently to what it costs the police to process them, about £200? It all stinks of looking after the rich.

    If you require further information of the damage done please ask.

    Please bring to bear any influence you can, to start the eradication of these archaic, cruel, “entertainments”.

  4. 5 Dave Dick
    August 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Splendid effort there..haven’t seen any real response from the opposition…if its like the average persecution incident, there will be a period of quiet for a couple of weeks and then there will be a concerted media “campaign” of attempts to belittle harrier persecution and get the sympathy of the public for the poor old keepers forced to “bend the rules” because of the hordes of raptors…..That’s if they deign to engage with you at all…

  5. 6 Marco McGinty
    August 11, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Yes, congratulations to all of those that organised and attended the various events, I’m just sorry that I could not attend.

  6. 7 Pennie Person
    August 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

    A big well done to all involved.The criminals who persecute Hen Harriers and other birds of prey should be locked up.

  7. 8 Bill Jackson
    August 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Sadly there will be only one way to have any effect on this illegal practice, ordered by land owners, enjoyed by keepers…stop all environmental grants on any moorland where a dead raptor is found…no comprimise…just one dead bird by any foul means…that’s all they understand, money. The benefits of any such estates to the general public is minimal considering the grants that are thrown at them to work the moorland habitat to the benefit of waders and other wildlife. Most will be bone dry dry shortly due to extensive draining which of course suits the grouse family but certainly not waders. Wake up those throwing money at a cruel so called sport for the gain of the few…but I forget, these are the very people making the rules for us all. Great to see such an important show against this and in my own home county…many thanks to you all…cant wait till you all have a protest against the pheasant bashers who do their fair share of wildlife persecution in this area….Bill Jackson Argyll

  8. August 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    What a great turnout & on such a wet day! When’s the next event? I hope this & the other events at other locations was reported in the local & national press. And if not, why not? Were there any reporters from the press there?

  9. 12 Mike
    August 11, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    We enjoyed getting wet at the Bowland gathering yesterday! Great coverage on this blog, well done all concerned. That snowball is rolling.

    However, Simon Barnes was’ let go’ by The Times amid speculation that what he was writing was not meeting with approval from those in high places with grouse shooting interests. We may never know, but as a good indication of their motive and of that newspaper’s position on the driven grouse / raptor topic see yesterday’s Sunday Times Opinion article on ‘Game Keepers are one of Nature’s best friends’ ! Instead of a fair coverage of the Rally’s read propaganda for the grouse shoots!

  10. 13 Jan tempest
    August 11, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    WELL DONE. to all you brave hearts for weathering the big Bertha storm and standing up for our native
    Hen Harriers
    We could do with some Raptors by me very few birds except big fat wood pigeons and Canada geese

  11. 14 Jan tempest
    August 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    BBC why aren’t you standing up for our native wildlife it seems very quite on the Weston front

  12. 15 Chris Roberts
    August 12, 2014 at 10:25 am

    What a load of crap “Game Keepers are one of natures best friends” gamekeepers are natures worst enemy, their tools of trade are guns, banned poisons, illegal traps, snares and stink pits – all very good for nature!!

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