The current worldwide health pandemic prompted me to take a few minutes to reflect, and pen a brief blog to those that follow me for the work I complete on Raptor Persecution. Firstly, I will use this forum to thank all those amazing key workers that continue their critical work to ensure we all stay safe, these are times we will all look back on in years to come and wonder just what happened and how we all worked together to get through. The toughest times of the coronavirus outbreak are yet to come for us in the UK but I am confident will we get through this together, it’s what we do!
It’s been a few months since I last posted a blog, but the work to protect our amazing birds of prey has continued at full speed behind the scenes. I know the current lockdown will impact on everyone’s ability to see our birds in their natural environment, the coronavirus has also had an impact on our plans for Operation Owl 2020. I had to make the decision to cancel our planned activity for the weekend of 18th & 19th April, which with 38 Police Forces already signed up was a real shame. With the hard work of Sgt Stu Grainger we will get Op Owl 2020 back up and running later in the year I am sure.
At the start of March, I chaired the latest England and Wales RPPDG meeting at North Yorkshire Police HQ. The meeting continues to move forward vital workstreams all aimed at partnerships protecting our birds. My thanks to good friend Dr Cathleen Thomas for attending and updating the group on her work leading the Hen Harrier Life Project. I would like to thank Cathleen for all her support as she leaves the RSPB for pastures new, good luck mate and you’ll be ace in your new role.
The group received updates on the Sea Eagle reintroduction project on the Isle of Wight, the Southern Scotland Golden Eagles and the continued efforts to protect our amazing Hen Harriers. The regular sharing of key Hen Harrier information between myself, Natural England and the RSPB is genuinely making a real difference in our continued efforts to protect them from persecution. I am delighted with the progress of the PDG meeting which continues to make huge strides in the right direction.
I would also like to thank Natural England volunteer Gav Craggs and the Estate Staff at Swinton for their fantastic support protecting a vital Hen Harrier roost site again this winter. The construction work of the new hide (pictured above) is now complete and I am sure will be in regular use next winter as Hen Harrier enthusiasts make the most of the chance to see these amazing birds in great numbers. Having visited the site myself, I can assure you it’s well worth a day out.
Finally it was great to see North Yorkshire Police making swift arrests in recent persecution cases. This, along with successful prosecutions taking place elsewhere in the country should remind those that kill our amazing birds that their time getting away with it is coming to an end.
Stay safe, look after each other and please follow the Governments #StayHomeSaveLives advice, so we can all get back out watching #OurBirds soon.