National Trust celebrates successful breeding year for rare Hen Harriers in the Peak District

The National Trust celebrates its most successful year for breeding rare harriers in the Peak District for over a decade (Picture: Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group)

The conservation charity said seven hen harriers had successfully fledged from several nests in the High Peak, making 2022 the most successful year for breeding.

It comes despite two nesting failures earlier in the year and follows work between the National Trust, the RSPB and the Peak District Raptor Group to encourage more birds of prey to live and thrive in the Peak District.

Work is underway including the cutting of heather to allow for a more diverse range of heathland plants such as sphagnum moss, blueberry and cottongrass, helping to attract the various insects and small mammals that birds depend on for their survival. to feed.

The National Trust celebrates its most successful year for breeding rare harriers in the Peak District for over a decade (Picture: Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group)

The trust also works closely with tenants to ensure their land management practices support the vision of more birds of prey in the area.

Craig Best, chief executive of the National Trust in the Peak District, said: “A lot of work has been done to encourage more breeding pairs of these majestic birds in the Peak District, so this is great news.

“The presence of the birds indicates an abundant and healthy food source, which shows that the work we have done so far to improve the landscape is beginning to provide ideal conditions for different species to thrive.

“However, we want to see more of these important birds of prey in the High Peak, as they play an important role in creating the right ecological balance in the landscape. That is why it is crucial that we continue to work together to achieve our goal to increase the population of birds of prey in the region and to do everything in our power to prevent persecution.

Slightly older Hen Harrier chicks in the nest credit Tim Melling

Hen harriers are one of England’s most endangered birds of prey due to historical persecution and because they often prey on willow ptarmigan chicks to feed their young, putting them in danger. conflict with farmers and game wardens.

In 2013, they were on the brink of extinction when no birds managed to leave their nests in the country.

Mark Thomas, RSPB Investigations Manager, said: “Despite the suspicious loss of two Hen Harrier nests in this area earlier in the season, we are delighted that further pairs have bred successfully and have It is a validation of the National Trust’s moorland vision and a testament to the partnership work undertaken to ensure that Hen Harriers and other species thrive in our highlands. Hen harriers are protected by law – yet a 2019 government study identified criminal persecution by humans as the main factor suppressing the UK population of hen harriers.

“The Dark Peak is unfortunately one of the worst areas in the UK for raptor persecution, so we will be closely monitoring the continued survival of chicks that have been tagged this year.”

Visitors and residents can help conservation efforts by staying on trails and keeping dogs on a leash during ground-nesting bird season, which lasts from early March to late July.

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