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Hen harrier - update

The following are brief summaries of some of the action that we and our partners have done since the Species Action Framework was launched. They're in chronological order, with the most recent updates at the top of the page.

11 February 2013

The five-year SAF programme finished in March 2012. We held a conference in November 2012, and you can go to a microsite external site (we recommend you use Firefox etc. as your browser, rather than older versions of Internet Explorer) where you can access a podcast, powerpoint presentation and poster for this species which summarises the work done during the SAF. You will also find:

- Audio podcasts of all the talks

- Powerpoint presentations of all the talks

- A set of all the SAF posters displayed at the conference

- A link to a podcast of the BBC Radio 4 'Saving Species' programme recorded at the conference

In late 2013 we also hope to publish an electronic 'SAF Handbook', which will include a chapter on this species.

10 December 2009

The hen harrier remains one of the most threatened of all birds in the UK. Next year (2010) we will be carrying out a UK-wide survey of hen harriers, in partnership with the Scottish Raptor Study Groups and RSPB Scotland. The last survey (2004) estimated there to be 633 pairs in Scotland, 11 pairs in England, 43 pairs in Wales and 63 pairs in Northern Ireland.

We have just completed a draft conservation framework report for hen harriers. This builds on the conservation framework we published for golden eagles  in 2008:

The framework :

  • Identifies current distribution, abundance and productivity
  • Identifies regional trends and constraints
  • Suggests actions to enhance conservation status

The work suggests that Scotland's potential hen harrier population could be at least double its present size, with limited prey availability in the west of Scotland and persecution in the east and south constraining the population. We have given an initial presentation on the work to Scotland's Moorland Forum external site  and will shortly issue a draft report for scientific comments. We intend to publish the report early in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project external site   is going well. This project, which began in autumn 2007, is looking for ways whereby moorland can be managed for hen harriers, driven grouse shooting and habitat conservation. On the Langholm Moor Special Protection Area we have a unique partnership operating between the owner of the moor (Buccleuch Estates), Scottish Natural Heritage, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, RSPB Scotland and Natural England. The Project employs five keepers (working under the Head Keeper, Simon Lester), and has three scientists (led by Dr Damian Bubb) and a Project Manager (Graeme Dalby) to ensure that the work on the ground is systematically monitored and reported. The early signs are promising, with red grouse numbers rising and successful provisioning of hen harriers with carrion to divert them from grouse.

The project attracts a significant amount of media and public interest, and already we have had several Ministerial and high profile organisational visits to the moor. If this project is a success, it could remove a lot of the conflict between driven grouse moor management and hen harrier conservation. The Environment Council initiative, led by Natural England external site , is also looking to find ways of resolving the hen harrier - grouse moor conflict.  SNH contributes to this, and works closely with a range of government and voluntary bodies to find ways of securing a better future for hen harriers.

A lot of scientific work is being done on the hen harrier and grouse moor conflict, with Journal of Applied Ecology external site   recently publishing a series of papers on the subject.  We have also been involved in the publication of a new field guide external site   for surveying and monitoring raptors  which will help support the next national hen harrier survey.

We were pleased that many of our partners who work with us on hen harriers and other raptors recently had their efforts recognised with the award of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management 'Best Practice Award' for 2009 to the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme (18 November 2009 news). external site  

Last updated on Monday 11th November 2013 at 15:08 PM. Click here to comment on this page