eported with great sadness yesterday that two of the 16 hen harrier chicks that fledged in England this year have gone missing.
The satellite tags fitted to them in the Forest of Bowland have stopped transmitting. These transmitters, the same as those used by the GWCT on woodcock, can fail but it is highly unusual. On rare occasions they can suddenly start transmitting again but from our experience that tends to be after a bird has been sitting on a nest and the bird moves back into sunlight and the battery is able to recharge.
Every hen harrier chick matters. As Bob Elliot, RSPB Head of Investigations, pointed out the loss of signal from these two birds (three days apart) suggest either natural predation or human intervention as the likely cause. Either way, it is desperately sad news. Chris Packham has highlighted technology is on our side and we need to keep watching.
The English hen harrier population is too low. The species needs its own action plan and Defra has committed to producing one. Let's hope it gets published soon so it can be properly debated and hopefully implemented at the earliest opportunity.