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Hen harriers fledge in South Lakeland

The 2018 South Lakeland hen harrier chicks in the rushes, taken on 3 July. Credit – Natural England.

[O]ne of the UK’s most persecuted birds of prey, the hen harrier, has successfully bred in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for the first time since 2007.

A pair has produced four chicks, which fledged in mid-July in the South Lakeland part of the Park. The birds nested in a large area of rush on upland pasture primarily used for livestock grazing, with the local shooting estate having rights over it.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) officers have monitored the nest site since early May, working closely with Natural England and the landowner.  Cumbria Police has offered behind the scenes support.

Natural England has attached satellite tags onto two of the birds, meaning that the birds’ movements will be tracked. It has produced a national summary of this year’s hen harrier breeding successes in England.

YDNPA Chairman Carl Lis said: “It is a source of joy, and relief, that hen harriers have at last bred again successfully in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  These are magnificent birds, ideally suited to the Dales, and their long absence has shamed us all.

“Despite the brilliant news about the hen harriers, we shouldn’t forget that it has been only a few weeks since a red kite was found shot dead in the south of the National Park.  I would urge members of the public to pass on any information they might have to North Yorkshire Police.    Grouse shooting concerns, conservation bodies, the police and local wildlife groups must continue to pull together.”

Find out more about the hen harrier here.

Two hen harriers attempted to nest in the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year, but both attempts were thought to have failed because of natural predation.

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