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Welcome return of the skydancer to the High Peak

3rd July 2018

One of Britain’s most threatened birds, the hen harrier, has bred on the National Trust’s High Peak Moors in the Peak District National Park, for the first time in four years.

The four chicks are said to be in a ‘healthy condition’ after hatching just a few days ago on land managed by the conservation charity.

The hen harrier is one of the most special birds of the British uplands and is famed for the adult’s mesmerising and dramatic ‘sky dance’, which the male performs as it seeks to attract a female.

“We’re delighted to learn of this nest” said Jon Stewart, the National Trust’s General Manager for the Peak District.

“The hen harrier has been one of the most illegally persecuted birds of prey in Britain for many years and we have set out on a mission to work with others to create the conditions for the harrier and other birds of prey to thrive once again in the uplands.

“We hope this will be a positive model for improving the fate of our birds of prey and providing the healthy natural environment that so many people care about and want to see”.

In 2013 the Trust published its High Peak Moors Vision, which put at its heart restoring wildlife, including birds of prey, and involving people in the care of the moors.

The conservation charity leases much of its High Peak moorland for grouse shooting and all shooting tenants have signed up to actively supporting the Vision.  As well as the hen harrier, initial signs are promising this year for other species such as the peregrine falcon, merlin and short eared owl.

“It is critical the birds are now given the space and security to rear their young without the threat of disturbance or worse.” Jon continued “The Trust will be working with its partners and tenants to give the birds the best chance of success. We are also working with the RSPB EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project to fit satellite tags to the chicks so that we can monitor their movements and learn more to inform the conservation of this very special bird. There is a great sense from everyone closely involved that we want this to work not just for these birds now, but as a symbol for the whole future direction of our uplands.  Uplands that are richer in wildlife and beauty, widely enjoyed and providing huge public benefits.”

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Did You Know?

75% of of the world’s remaining heather moorland is found in Britain – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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