English hen harrier news


This video is about hen harriers in Scotland.

From Wildlife Extra:

Glimmer of hope for England’s hen harriers

Hen harriers appear to be making a comeback on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in Lancashire

England’s most threatened bird of prey has taken a small step back from the brink of extinction in England following confirmation of two active hen harrier nests at the same site.

On the United Utilities Bowland Estate in Lancashire, one pair is currently raising chicks, while a female has been spotted sitting on eggs in a second nest nearby.

Bowland used to be the English stronghold for hen harriers and the upland bird of prey is even the symbol of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. However, the current nests represent the first breeding attempts in the area since 2011.

Last year, England’s hen harriers suffered their worst breeding season for decades, failing to produce a single chick anywhere in the whole country for the first time in several decades.

The RSPB in partnership with Natural England and United Utilities have monitored and protected hen harriers in Bowland for more than three decades. Both nests are being watched by dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as CCTV around the clock.

The RSPB’s hen harrier monitoring and protection work in Bowland forms part of Skydancer, a four-year RSPB project aimed at protecting and conserving nesting hen harriers in the English uplands. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (with a grant of £317,700) and United Utilities, with additional support from the Forestry Commission.

Jude Lane, the RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer, says: “After two years of bitter disappointment, I am delighted and relieved that hen harriers have returned to nest in Bowland. However, the species is still in serious trouble and at risk from extinction as a breeding bird in England.”

The plight of the English hen harrier stems from the fact that hen harriers sometimes eat red grouse, which brings them into conflict with the driven grouse shooting industry. This particular type of shooting requires large numbers of grouse, so some game managers feel they must illegally kill or disturb harriers to protect their stock.

A legal method that could reduce the number of grouse chicks lost to hen harriers is a management technique known as diversionary feeding. This involves providing hen harriers with an alternative food source during the period when the adults are feeding their chicks. The RSPB and the local shooting tenant are currently using the method in Bowland, under licence from Natural England.

Jude continues: “Diversionary feeding is a simple, inexpensive and effective technique. Previous trials have shown it can reduce the number of grouse eaten by hen harriers by up to 86 per cent.”

For more information about the project, visit www.rspb.org.uk/skydancer.

Play about World War I on English stage


This video from Britain says about itself:

An August Bank Holiday Lark Trailer

24 February 2014

Northern Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with the world premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s moving new play An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Set in the idyllic summer of 1914 rural Lancashire, everyone in the community is excited about Wakes week; a rest from field and mill and a celebration of the Rushbearing Festival with singing, courting, drinking and dancing. The looming war barely registers … but it will.

By Susan Darlington in England:

Theatre: An August Bank Holiday Lark

Thursday 17th April 2014

A new play movingly evokes the loss of community and tradition in WWI, says SUSAN DARLINGTON

An August Bank Holiday Lark

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

4 Stars

It’s unlikely that Michael Gove will approve of An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Commissioned to commemorate the centenary of WWI, Northern Broadside’s latest play certainly doesn’t celebrate it as a “just war.”

Rather, Deborah McAndrew’s gentle tale depicts the kind of village life creaking under the weight of holidays to Blackpool and votes for women even before the arrival of Kitchener‘s recruitment drive.

In the Pennine mill village where the play is set in 1914, the greatest worry is finding eight Morris men for the annual rush-cart festival and securing trim for the squire’s hat after an incident involving the neighbour’s chickens.

The war seems a distant threat yet it is an opportunity for top clog dancer Frank (Darren Kuppan) to prove his worthiness to wed the squire’s daughter Mary (Emily Butterfield) and a chance for young men to make a stand for “ideas.”

The poignancy of this vanishing community is beautifully captured during one of the key scenes when a rush-cart – a towering wagon piled with cut reeds and flowers – is constructed before the audience.

Accompanied by Conrad Nelson’s joyous music and exhilarating clog-dancing choreography, the festive spirit is such that when the cart is paraded around the stage with hapless jockey Herbert (Mark Thomas) waving from the top, the audience waves back.

Fast-forward a year and the community has been torn apart, with the lives of young millworkers lost in the Dardanelles and the women left behind contemplating a life without a sweetheart.

This shift in mood is powerfully signalled by Barrie Rutter as the squire. Having spent the first act being a parody of his larger than life persona, now he is a broken man symbolising the loss of life, community and tradition.

This sombre note contrasts sharply with the bantering humour earlier and, while the plot may occasionally be spread thinner than dripping, the play is superbly evocative and poignantly acted throughout.

Highly recommended.

Tours until June 14, details: www.northern-broadsides.co.uk.

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Golden plovers like mild winter weather


This video from England says about itself:

Golden Plovers.

Marshside RSPB Reserve, Lancashire, September 2009

Golden plovers like the mild weather of this winter in the Netherlands; according to Ecomare museum on Texel island.

If winter in the Dutch Wadden Sea region is cold, like in 2010 and in 2011, then usually only a few hundred golden plovers stay there. The other golden plovers fly further south.

However, this winter, 21,000 golden plovers were counted there.

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White redshank in Wales


Leucistic redshank. Our thanks to Dennis Bannister for this photo

From Wildlife Extra:

Unusual redshank seen in North Wales

February 2013. One of our readers, Dennis Bannister, recently sent us this unusual looking redshank that he spotted in North Wales.

Leucism (or Leukism)

Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches.

This occassionaly causes very excited biologists to think they have discovered a new species, when in fact leucism is the cause of the unusual markings they have seen.

Click here to see our gallery of leucistic animals and birds.

This video is about normally coloured redshanks in Lancashire, England.