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English Nature launches it`s` Hen Harrier project

Something positive is being done about the plight of Hen Harriers in England… …English Nature is encouraged by Spring sightings…

English Nature launched its hen harrier project in the uplands today [26 April 2002] with the encouraging news that 35 hen harriers - the most endangered bird of prey in England, have been seen across the moors of northern England in the past fortnight.Sir Martin Doughty, English Nature`s Chair said, This is very encouraging news as we launch our hen harrier project, and we hope that these birds will be able to successfully breed and produce chicks in safety. The hen harrier is one of England`s most spectacular birds of prey and nothing can be more memorable than seeing males sky dancing in front of prospective mates in their annual courtship displays.English Nature has become increasingly concerned about the status of the hen harrier in England. Following a prolonged decline, the English population now consists of just a handful of breeding pairs and there is the very real danger that the species will become extinct as a breeding bird within the next few years. English Nature is committed to restoring the English population and has set up a hen harrier project that will run for at least three years. The project aims to:Monitor the remaining hen harrier population in England and their breeding success;

Identify the factors that are currently restricting hen harrier numbers;

Take subsequent measures to increase the hen harrier population in England.As part of the survey, English Nature would like to hear from anyone who has seen hen harriers in England this spring and summer. Please phone Richard Saunders, Hen Harrier Project Officer, English Nature Cumbria Team: telephone: 01539 792800Background
The hen harrier was once a fairly common and widespread bird in Britain and there are breeding records from many English counties from the early 19th Century. Numbers declined mainly as a result of persecution by those seeking to protect poultry or gamebirds. By the end of the 19th century only a small population of birds survived in the Hebrides in western Scotland and on Orkney. r the Second World War, the hen harrier started to make a comeback, probably due to a reduction in the number of active gamekeepers and a corresponding drop in the intensity of the persecution. Northern England was recolonised in the mid-1960s and in the 1970s and 1980s up to 25 nesting attempts were made in each year in Cumbria, Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire. The population has not increased further and from the mid 1990s there has been a significant downturn in fortunes. Hen harriers arrive back on their breeding grounds in March and April. The males indulge in spectacular, aerobatic display flights to attract females. The hen harrier has a strong association with heather in England and nests are almost always sited so that the surrounding heather bushes provide cover and protection. A clutch of 4-6 eggs is laid, in April or May, and incubated mainly by the female for about 30 days. The chicks then spend a further 30-40 days in the nest before making their first flight. Contacts
English Nature`s National Press Office 01733 455190 out-of-hours 07970 098005 email press@english-nature.org.uk or visit our website at www.english-nature.org.uk
English Nature, Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA England

4th July 2014