Monday, 11 August 2014

10th August - Hen Harrier Day

After all the on-line communicating and talk of Hen Harrier Day, it finally came round. The event I attended was located at the North Peak District, however the same sort of thing was happening at Northumberland and Forest of Bowland (you can read about the Bowland event on David McGrath's brilliant blog). 

The scenery on the journey to the Peak District was just great, especially when we entered the moors. We left the house at around 5:30am, and arrived just before 7:00am. The day had already started well as I saw six beautiful Red Grouse on the way.

Mark Avery (the organiser) had already arrived with a couple of other people, and was amused to see that I had managed to bring our 6ft Hen Harrier (with the help of dad and dad's van). I had already started to meet new faces and get chatting, when suddenly out of the blue came a male Goshawk. It settled in a Sycamore just in front of me. Another great sighting and it wasn't even 7:30am yet!

By now a few more people had started to arrive so me and my dad (the whole family did attend this event) decided to take the Hen Harrier (Harry) and his stand down ready to where the photo was going to be taken by the dam later in the morning.

Now for those of you who don't know, the actual event was to raise awareness for the Hen Harrier as this species is currently being persecuted i.e illegal trapping, poisoning and shooting, with only three pairs in England breeding this year and scientists saying the suited habitat could home at least 300 pairs, so we all need to do something about it.  If you've never seen one before, go and find one (and watch it's acrobatics as it skims, soars and dives across the purple heather) and then you'll understand just how bad it would be to lose them forever.


When we eventually got the Harrier down to the dam wall we had to screw the stand together, then get the bird actually connected to it, which I've got to say is much more easily said than done. Before we headed back to the car park I thought it would be great to get people to sign the post of the stand and again show how much support there is for our Hen Harriers. Dad's work pens came in useful.  And furthermore I have thought about leaving the signed stand (and maybe Harry) outside the house of my local MP (Stephen O'Brien) to see what he makes of our efforts. 

Harry in front of the dam before the crowds arrived

Now if you didn't know I hadn't made the Hen Harrier for the day, it was actually made for a village scarecrow competition to try and raise awareness for the Harrier aimed the citizens of Moulton, however when I heard about Hen Harrier day a couple of weeks back we all decided to take along Harry, and I think  it was the right decision as he seemed to keep everyone together in a big group after the talks were over. 

The money I won for the scarecrow competition I donated to RSPB Sky dancer who I met up with and gave the money to at Hen Harrier Day. The lovely person collecting it was called Blanaid Denman and we had a great talk about Hen Harriers, Mark Avery, the event , all the people and how far they had traveled and of course the rain! 

With Blanaid, Harry and Harley

After the first couple of photographs and greetings, lots of people had started to arrived and I was able to get a chat in with Chris Packham who was also there supporting the Hen Harriers; it was really nice to meet him again and I told him to look out for Harry down by the dam.  

It was great to meet the likes of Andre Farrah, Alan Davies, the Hawk & Owl Trust, various Wildlife Trusts and lots of other people, and overall, from my point of view, it looked like a great turn out with all the people, film crews, media and even just normal people not aware of the event joined in.


When Ten O'clock came round Mark Avery gathered everyone round for the picture and speech. The first speech was a few words from Mark thanking everyone for turning up in the not so ideal weather conditions, he said it he hadn't done that much to organise the event but that isn't true. Anyone could tell that a lot of hard work, care and passion had gone into the event. 

Mark then passed over to Chris Packham, he started off saying a few words, however suddenly he started talking about a big bird behind the crowd. I thought "hmmmmm that's my Harry" and a few seconds later he called my name out, I was so shocked.

After a round of applause for Harry, Chris himself started asking me some questions and passed me the loud hailer. I talked about what I felt about Hen Harriers and how and why I made Harry. I've got to say at first I was a little nervous talking in front of the 570 people that turned up, but at the end when I had finished I felt like my voice had been heard and that I could help to make a difference.


Thank you  to Guy Shorrock for this picture

Now of course I was listening to Chris's speech like a hawk (or maybe a Harrier) but one thing he said stood out to me that I had never heard anyone admit to before. "Conservation organisations and people had failed"; now that stood out to me because I am a young keen conservationist. I knew that what he had just said meant something because it did make people pay more attention, and made me feel that we all need to work harder for the Hen Harriers (and other species), but as Chris said at the end eventually "we will win".

At the end of the speeches everyone dashed back over to the Hen Harrier and I had a couple of pictures taken with Mark and Chris, the Wildlife Trust and a few other people; I found everyone there inspiring in some way and loved meeting everyone trying to make a difference.


One of the other people I wanted to meet was an MP, the Shadow Environment Minister, Barry Gardiner, it was an absolute pleasure to meet him, and was really interesting to find out his point of view on Hen Harriers and of course overall conservation.  He said the same thing as Chris and Mark "you are the younger generation of wildlife protectors and will do well" which encourages me to keep trying but also reminds me to appreciate people's support and to take in to consideration different points of view, even if I think they are wrong.


One the journey home all the rain had created amazing waterfalls across the Peak District and the clouds were still clinging to the tops of the hills. I imagined seeing a Hen Harrier coming tumbling out of the cloud and skimming across the moor, calling out to it's mate. In a few years maybe I wont just have to imagine this, maybe we will have made a difference, maybe we will have won.

I am going to finish this blog post off with a list of all about 250 people who signed Harry's perch. I wanted to say a massive thank you to them for caring and think they all deserve a mention. I might not get all the spellings and messages right as the rain and some dodgy hand writing on a post don't go very well together. 


Thank you to

MARK AVERY
CHRIS PACKHAM
ANDRE FARRAR
RON KINRADE - SHROPSHIRE PEREGRINE GROUP
FRAN PICKERING
FRED PICKERING
SAM HAWORTH
RUTH - HANDS OFF OUR HEN HARRIERS FROM SCOTLAND
ED SHEPHERD
CHRIS
ANDY
CHRIS FOG
HANNAH - X
DAVE WOLVES
WIRRAL BARN OWL TRUST
JIM CLARKE
SARAH
SUE PARY - X
SIMON TONKIN - BIRDERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME
WENDY & KEITH
J &K - BRILL XX
CAROLINE
RICH
LES
DEB &DUNC
MAC
RICH
SEAN
KATE
PAULINE - XX
CHRIS & KIRSTY
JIM SHEPON
CHRIS HARRISON
CLAIRE
PAWPRINT
SIOBHAN - HARRY - SAVE HEN HARRIERS
JAC
TRI SHEPHARD
PAUL H
TIVI
G U FOXCROFT
E ARMITAGE FISHER
T COSFORD
JO
PAUL
GARRY
MATT C
EROL
ELIS
ROSE
MILLIE
KATE W 
SARAH & ANDY
H CROSLEY
BCR
BRIAN EGAN
ANDY
PETE TOMLIN
JANE
KIRSTY
DUNCAN
STEVIE 
SALLY
J BROWN
IAN FILLILOVE
KELI TOMLIN & BUMP
ALAN MILLER
RUTH MILLER
CLARE- SAVE OUR HARRIERS XX
AHDYLLAH AAMIR
ALAN FOX
SARAH & ANDY XX
MF
BARRY GARDINER MP
MH
RICHARD POTLEN
SHELA K
ALISON MOSLEY - DERBYSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST
JONAH
IAN C
THG
A NOTTS - RSPB
DARCY SANDIFORD
CHRIS
JIM
STEVE ROE - DERBYSHIRE
ALICE TRIBE
ALAN CORMAL
CORRYS CORMAK
@GINBAT - GO HEN HARRIERS
R S PAVAGE
LIZ &IAN FULLILOVE
@MANCROCKCHICK XXX
MIKE GILLETT
DAVID PORTER WILSON
SALLY PERURRO
    BILL MURPHY
JILL
JUDITH SMITH M/CR
BEN EWAN & MEG BIRCH
JAYNE C
ESMIE
ANTHONY ROBERTS
ROZ
TIM BIRCH
DEBBIE
MICKY & CLAIRE
SUE CROOKS - DERBYSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST
LIZZIE MCBRIDE
SHARPY
TONY SHOLT
FLEUR HAWKIN
PAULA BOWNES - FROM CANADA
LOUISE B - SUPPORTING HEN HARRIERS
MARK FOOT
SELDOY & CYRIL - THE RESCUED FINCHES
PAUL & DAWN
BOB D
BECK EZE - X
BILL HERBETT - BOWLAND RAPTOR STUDY GROUP
@BUCKSPEREGRINES
CARMEN
MICK DEMAIN
MATTHEW CAPPER
KEVIN
SU
NICOLA
PAUL TILLSEY - HEAD OF INVESTIGATIONS LEAGUE AGAINST CRUEL SPORTS
CE_PEA
KERRIE - X
STEPH - XX
SUZY Q
TAIMOR G
ANNA P
MARGARET GREEN
ALAN
LESLEY - NOT IN MY NAME
ANNE HOLMES
JENNY SWINDELLS
SOPH
@WINTERSETH
STEVE MILLS
ANTHONY 
EMMA
MICHAEL
EMMA - X
BARBARA BRADLEY
CK
CAROLINE GREEN
DANNY UDALL
STEWART ABBOTT
SHEFFIELD AND ROTHERHAM WILDLIFE TRUST
RICHARD MILLER
CRAIG H
LORRAINE SWIFT
STEVE TRETTER
STUART BENN -INVERNESS
DIANE GOULD - DERBYSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST
HILARY KOLL
KATE WHITEHEAD - HOLMFIRTH X 
JOHN RANSON

And finally, again a massive thank you to Mark Avery and Chris Packham.

See you all at Birdfair.

Wild Bird Wednesday

33 comments:

  1. Brilliant blog Findlay. So sad not to be able to be there but thinking about event all day. You are doing a marvellous job representing the younger generation and being a good role model. Keep up the good work. Please do not get disheartened. There are vested interests involved which are hard to overcome for ordinary folk. Have a wonderful Summer.

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  2. great work findlay and well done with the model of the harrier

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  3. You are an absolute star of a young lad, and I'm very impressed both with your blog post and, more importantly, with your wonderful Hen Harrier model. You clearly care a great deal about the things that really matter - namely conserving our precious wildlife and countryside for your generation and beyond. I signed your Hen Harrier model ("Save our Hen Harriers"), and really enjoyed the morning's speeches and general message. I, too, can only imagine watching a Hen Harrier drift out of the trees and across the moorland, having never seen one. It is such a shame that they have been so persecuted by those who should and do know better, but we can change it. Keep up the good work, and the great writing! We will win. :-) Clare, Derby.

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  4. More power to you Findlay..keep up the good work...you're doing a wonderful job....[;o)

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  5. Thanks Findlay, you're an inspiration to us all! Let's hope we can turn this dire situation around and get the landowners and shooting fraternity to stop being complicit in the persecution of such a wonderful species of bird!

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  6. Fantastic Findlay! Best post from #henharrierday I've read. Keep it up.

    And Chris P is right, conservation has failed, not just the Hen Harrier but many species/habitats/sites etc. I think the Hen Harrier issue is a culmination of birders and others interested in wildlife just reaching breaking point with the outright perversity of the illegal activities of those persecuting our wildlife and successful governments not enforcing the law to protect them.

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  7. You captured the day so well, we all need to come up with some fresh ideas to keep the campaign in the public domain. What's next?

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  8. Well done, young 'un. I note you're in for the long haul. Don't lose that enthusiasm.

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  9. Well done..............good to see we have some youngsters onboard!

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  10. Brilliant work and dedication by all of you involved in the days event

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  11. Congratulations on a job brilliantly done, Findlay (and the rest of the Wilde Bunch!). I feel very privileged to have met you, and look forward to seeing you again.

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  12. A wonderful post Findlay... it was a great idea to take "Harry" with you.

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  13. another great post Fin,well done on your public speaking too.

    peter

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  14. Fantastic stuff Findlay! I was at Derwent but didn't realise you were asking people to sign your fantastic Hen Harrier.

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  15. Great work Findlay.
    I'm sure you'll be a big name in conservation in the near future.
    Looking forward to seeing you and your family at Birdfair.

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  16. Great effort Findlay. You spoke very well at the event - I was impressed with the model Harrier but I didn't realise we were supposed to sign it.

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  17. This is brilliant Findlay. Your attitude is fantastic because you so clearly appreciate the wonder and beauty of the natural world and you convey such a sense of fun and enjoyment when talking about it.
    I'm just annoyed now that I didn't write my name clearly on Harry's stand! My 10 year old son Jonah wrote very legibly. :) If you're able to add my name, I would be proud to appear on the list.

    John Ranson

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  18. Great summary of the day. I was at Hen Harrier Day too - your harrier was fantastic and I was really impressed by your skills and dedication to conservation. Keep up the good work :)

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  19. One day I hope to meet 'Harry' he's quite a star! In the menatime I really hope to see some hen harriers on our local marshes this winter
    Well done everyone who braved Bertha to make a stand
    Hands off our Harriers!!!

    Cheers

    DaVeyMan

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  20. Great effort! This would make a different post for WBW.

    Hope all is well.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

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  21. Well done, Findlay. I didn't get a chance to talk to you on the day. But I just wanted to say what an inspiration you are to the younger generation of naturalists. You are to conservation what User: Rock_drum is to Wikipedia!

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  22. Great blog Findlay - and great to have had your model there on the day. It was a real focal point and backdrop for the event. Keep up that enthusiasm!

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  23. Great work Findlay. I had planned to go but couldn't make it in the end. I bought a t-shirt though and wore it all day.

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  24. What a wonderful event! Great job Harry! Wonderful job everyone all around!

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  25. Great job, a memorable a day to boot!

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  26. Findlay, you never cease to amaze me and others fortunate enough to have come to know you. I think that your family must be extremely proud of you and I only hope that you will keep moving in the wonderful direction of interest that you now share. Just marvelous for one your tender age. I hope that those at the top will hear and listen and that these beautiful birds will be spared any more deaths. Thank you Findlay~

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  27. Me again - the Farne Islands are stunning - but don't forget (and I know that you would not!) that most of the birds there are migratory - so out of the breeding season the islands are almost empty.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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