Monday, 8 August 2016

Hen Harrier Day 2016

The Safari and Wifey picked up GB (no not the one from Western Australia - this one) and photographer JH earlyish on Sunday morning and headed out east.
We weren't on the quest for wildlife because sadly we knew today we weren't going to see anything special as the opportunity has been taken from us this year by the local grouse shooting fraternity. 
The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has as its logo a Hen Harrier. This year there are none to be found. A male turned up early in April and began skydancing to set up a territory but 'disappeared' after a few days - now why would it leave a chosen breeding area while waiting for any females to turn up???
A female or at least a 'ringtail' too - Stolen from we're sure he won't mind
Not that this area has much natural beauty, outstanding or not, there's no denying it's very rural and picturesque but natural beauty, it's about as natural as a golf course!
Here's some real natural upland beauty from our trip to Poland a few years ago when we enjoyed a cruise down the Dunajac Gorge.
Notice how the hills are forested with a mix of conifers and broadleaves except where it is too rocky for them to grow. Now look at a typical Bowland hill.
The only trees are along the river apart from a few isolated ones dotted around the hillside. These are mostly 'weeds' being self seeded from the forestry plantation - the dark green area.
From above it looks like this.
'C' is a clear felled area of forestry whereas the very unnatural looking patchwork quilt effect of 'A' and 'B' is burned areas of heather for grouse moor management resulting in no trees and damage to the peat preventing it soaking up rain water and releasing lots of carbon dioxide. It was this 'management' that we had come to protest against, along with the continued persecution of Hen Harriers and other birds of prey. This year is the first year ever when not a single pair of Hen Harriers or Peregrines have been allowed to nest in these uplands. Allowed as in permitted by the grouse shooting estates. Nothing, absolutely nothing, that interferes with their Red Grouse is tolerated. Traps are set for small mammals such as Weasels and Stoats, Foxes are shot or snared as are Badgers. Why all mammals bar a few serious pests like Rats and Mice and a very select few others aren't protected like the birds we don't know but might hazard a guess it was down to big land owners like these in the past. Not that it stops them killing our protected native wildlife like the birds of prey - allegedly...if any crimes have been committed up here finding evidence and bringing the culprit(s) to court are nigh on impossible. In Scotland even the (possibly) world's rarest cat has succumbed to the gamekeepers and it's only now known as the Sottish Wild Cat because, yes you guessed it, gamekeepers wiped it out from the rest of Britain long ago, although we have to admit that it was probably doomed due to interbreeding with so many domestic cats by now anyway...but that's doesn't excuse what happened to them by way of trap, snare, gun or poison.
The time has come to stand up and be counted and so no more, enough is enough. And that's what over a 100 of us had gathered for.
This is the only Peregrine in Bowland!
The mighty AB thinks he's seen one - he hasn't, there aren't any!
Pesky towny lefties with no idea how the countryside works - one of them is an ecologist
We have had enough of the moorland mularky and we have some serious looking allies on our side, we reckon driven grouse shooting is doomed, maybe not this year, maybe not next year, maybe not even the year after but sooner rather than later.
You shouldn't have to walk far from where we were stood but sadly that's not possible due to somebody's hobby/pastime - it's not a sport and neither is it an industry even if it is carried out on an industrial scale
It's not only Hen Harriers, where's our Red Kites, Peregrines, Short Eared Owls and we should have Golden Eagles up there too. This ecologically illiterate remnant of Victoriana has to stop. The more people start to realise how much of our wildlife is being destroyed, how much environmental damage is being caused, how much their water and insurance bills are being increased, how much more often their homes are being flooded the more likely they are to look for change.
If you do nothing else please sign this UK petition to bring the matter to a debate in parliament. And ask, cajole, implore your friends and contacts to sign too.
We wonder what the effects of any subsidy changes will be or even if this mega-rich demographic actually get any subsidies taken off them. We won't hold our breath, they'll probably be the only ones to keep their subsidies!
A huge thank you to TP and co for organising again - it'll be even bigger and better next year.
And many thanks to JH for letting us use her quality pics
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know how many have signed the petition in your out back - get them signing and sharing and lets hear who has to say what in that parliamentary debate.


Findlay Wilde said...

A great turn out for Bowland and so much effort put in by everyone.

Jane Hards Photography said...

Great write up of a good day for a worthy cause. My camera is up for more events whenever I'm free.

Ros berrington said...

We had an excellent day at Bowland,Terry Pickford did a fantastic job and his speech was both moving and shocking in describing the extremes that the Grouse shooting industry go to in order to continue their carnage and malign those who oppose them.Thanks to Terry,his family and all who organized and supported this event.