Tyneside birders are celebrating the successful opening of the Hen Harrier Watch Point on Town Moor, Newcastle. After much speculation, unrelated to any other debates on suppression, the news of nesting will come as a complete surprise. Morethankittiwakes has exclusive access to this breaking news.
Rumours have circulated for years that Town Moor holds almost as many breeding pairs of Hen Harriers as the rest all the moorland in England combined. It therefore comes as no surprise that Freedmen of the City should wish to share their success. A spokesperson for the operation commented, ‘Last Century we operated a policy of not burning heather on Town Moor. Impressed by the results we also banned the use of lead shot.’
There were concerns that this policy would impact upon the numbers of breeding Red Grouse but, there appears to be no change. In fact, Birders taking part in the NZ26 Challenge confirmed, ‘We are seeing the numbers of Red Grouse on the moor we expect at this time of year.
A NUF spokesman said, ‘Initially, we were concerned that this publicity would reduce rich people’s ability to maintain the status quo. Though we expect the real impact will not be felt until tomorrow.’
Conservation groups said the real surprise came in 2013. After much speculation, and blind eyes being turned by landowners elsewhere, it was confirmed that Town Moor was significantly contributing to the production of young Hen Harriers in England. MorethanKittiwakes is led to believe the original figure -no adults producing no young, was an obvious setback to Newcastle setting the pace for raptor conservation.
However, it was reported this week, that this was in fact the figure for the whole of England. So the breeding success of Hen Harriers that year was maintained solely by those pairs nesting on Town Moor. Unfortunately, last year, the public were made aware that ‘no breeding success’ is normal for nearly all the moors of England. Therefore, the recent success of Newcastle has largely gone un-noticed
In the long term, projects like this mean there will be no need to have a female bird waiting on a nest for a male bird never to return. Reducing this senseless cruelty will contribute to a scheme that Tyneside residents will take to their hearts. The sponsors of the Watch Point said, ‘We have taken away all opportunities for people to speculate and lose money by betting on how many days it will be before the male disappears. In the North West it was reported that large sums of money may have changed hands in this speculation. We don’t want that to happen anywhere again!’
A local celebrity, with no experience of day flying raptors, has reduced his support for brood management –chicks being taken from nests and reared by humans. He claims, ‘Originally, brood management was suggested when we thought Hen Harriers would be extinct in a short space of time. It is quite clear that we under-estimated how quickly the population could be reduced by targeting male birds alone’.
Malta is said to be interested in seeing if results like this can be used elsewhere. A spokesperson for the Island said, ‘If the Government can show so little interest in one of their own special birds disappearing, why do they allow interference with what we do?’
Details of significant public events can be found by putting ‘Hen Harrier Day 2015’ and ‘raptor persecution’ into your favourite search engine.