Hatching the perfect home for hen harriers

Following news that 22 hen harrier chicks have successfully fledged their nests at our Bowland Estate, Water Catchment Manager Matthew Upton lets us know how we work with our partners to nurture these protected species.

2019 has been another significant year for us in Bowland, and I’m delighted to say that we’ve once again had an abundance of hen harriers thriving on our Bowland Estate.

Our approach in Bowland involves a unique and successful partnership with the RSPB, in conjunction with our farming and shooting tenants, Natural England and the Bowland AONB. We all work together to make our estate a suitable environment for hen harriers in particular, but also for other species of birds that make this area their home.

Our work begins in spring when we start to ramp up our activities. This is when the RSPB begin their monitoring work. Staff and volunteers head out on the moors recording sightings, collecting valuable data and ensuring the nests are protected and remain undisturbed. The RSPB continue their work throughout the season, monitoring and protecting any nesting birds and to give them the best chance of fledging from their nests.

Alongside this work, our United Utilities employees and our tenants support the wider management of the estate, ensuring any activities are conducive to the harriers’ success. An example of this type of work is ensuring the local habitat is sensitively managed to give any nesting harriers the right environment to breed. This typically involves livestock and game birds being appropriately managed, predators being kept at bay and supporting diversionary feeding when required.

Throughout the season everyone involved is passionate about the harriers in Bowland and there is an enormous sense of pride felt when we see the chicks grow into healthy juveniles and eventually fledge the nest.

I would like to thank everyone involved for their continued conservation efforts. All the hard work and dedication has paid off again this year and it’s a real joy to see these magnificent birds of prey are once again choosing to make Bowland their home. We’ll continue to work with our partners and organisations to ensure Bowland remains a place for hen harriers and other protected species for years to come.