Hi all, I nearly decided to not write this blogpost as there are some fantastic blogs on the weekends events already available online from other people but then I thought the more blogs there are, the more people will read about how our protected Birds Of Prey are facing extinction in England due to illegal persecution.
Our own journey at the weekend began at 4.15am in Newry, Northern Ireland, leaving to catch the 5am bus to Dublin for our flight to East Midlands Airport.
Newry at 5am.Taken from the bus station.
Then a 90 minute drive North-West to get to the B&B in Buxton.When checking in the owner asked of our plans for the weekend so we told her about Hen Harrier Day.Her first question was "What is a Hen Harrier?"We told her, and about the current situation the birds face.She couldn't believe that we have these stunning Raptors that people are intentionally killing.
This is the problem.Not enough people know of the Hen Harrier and even less know of its possible extinction from England due to illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning.
This is what Hen Harrier Weekend is for, to raise awareness of the plight of our Skydancing Harriers and ask for justice against all the criminal activity that is robbing us of our Natural Heritage.
The first part of the weekend was an evening of lectures in Buxton.The evening began with Mark Avery, conservationist, organiser of this great event and Author of books "A Message from Martha" and new book "Inglorious" about the conflicts on the Grouse Moors.(link at the end to buy his book)
Next up was Amanda Miller of the RSPB talking about what they are now doing to help support the campaign and then showed us the RSPB Skydancing video, along with a few words from Chief Exec. Mike Clarke.
Author/Birder Mark Cocker had an entertaining on stage conversation with Turner Prize winner artist Jeremy Deller famed for his artwork depicting a Hen Harrier carrying off a blood red Landrover.
Afterwards I was lucky enough to be able to get a signed stamp of the above artwork from Jeremy.
Young Naturalist and Conservationist Findlay Wilde then took us through the hard work of his building of the latest stage props, the Grouse Butt, trap and Poison bottle and his success in getting Ecotricity to cover the costs of tagging Hen Harriers in 2016:)
To end the talks , Chris Packham(needs no introduction) gave another passionate rousing speech about our Hen Harriers, the environment, the criminals responsible for the missing Bowland Male Harriers and the effects of the murder of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.
The bar remained open after the talks so time for a drink and chat with like-minded people who are furious with whats happening in our uplands and want to save our Hen Harriers.It was great to chat to Phil Walton, Chris Packham, Mark Avery, Stewart Abbott and of course Henry the Hen Harrier.
Sunday was the Official Hen Harrier Day 2015 with 7 different events taking place around the country from Northumberland to Dorset.We were up and walking down the stunning Goyt Valley before 9am.People were already starting to gather in time for the talks at 11am.
Charlie Moores of Birders Against Wildlife Crime and organiser of the day opened proceedings with a heartfelt talk.
Jo Smith, Chief Exec of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust then gave a great speech on what they are doing to stop this illegal persecution and bring back Hen Harriers to the uplands.
Next to speak was Jeff Knott, another star of the RSPB who spoke of the days when there was no hope but now he once again has hope we can save our Harriers due to the support for Hen Harrier Day.
Mark Avery then spoke quickly about his book "Inglorious" and about how criminals are killing our protected birds without any consequences for them.
Chris Packham once again ended proceedings explaining how Driven Grouse Shooting is causing so much damage to our environment.The Landowners who are supposedly looking after our uplands are instead destroying the whole ecology of the upland community through burning, poisoning and the killing of the top predator, the Hen Harriers.All this equates to increased Global Warming, poisoning of our water supplies(causing bills to increase) and more frequent flooding.A totally unsustainable ecosystem.
With the Hen Harrier Thunderclap going out to over 5.5 million people and 6 other Hen Harrier Day events around the country, more and more people are becoming aware of the criminal atrocities that our happening in our uplands.After seeing the facts for themselves hopefully they too will want justice and to put an end to the illegal persecution of our Natural treasures.
Meeting Chris again after the talks.
We Will Win!! and then our Hen Harriers won't be missing anymore:)
Thank you to Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Mark Avery for all their hard work in getting this event together.Also thanks to the Derbyshire Wildlife trust for all their hard work in supporting this campaign.
Thanks for reading, and apologies for this pretty long blog but it is a very important problem that needs solving before it is too late and these magnificent birds become just a memory in England.
Things you can do to help.
Follow BAWC on Facebook, Twitter and check out their website for latest news.
Buy Mark Avery's book "Inglorious"
Sign the petition to stop Driven Grouse Shooting.Now past 11,000 signatures.
Listen to the Podcast with Charlie Moores & Chris Packham(and Itchy & Scratchy) about the injustice of Wildlife Crime.
Buy the new Hen Harrier Bath Bombs from Lush Cosmetics to help fund tracking of these extremely important birds.
Thank you all again for reading this blog and Please do anything you can to help.