Mist early, but a generally fine day thereafter. At least the mist tempered the effects of the dawn, whose light can begin to penetrate my east facing house well before 0400 hours at the height of summer. Today, as the longest day, still saw it possible to read a newspaper outside at 2245 hours, a situation that will now gradually diminish until it reaches its lowest point on the 21st December,2010 with dusk then being at around 1530/1600hours dependent on cloud cover. Rather a stark contrast, with first light being after 0800 hours!!
Hen Harrier pairs are actively foraging, suggesting broods have been produced successfully. Indeed, the spring, being relatively dry, has not been bad at all for ground nesting birds, which will have helped many species. Local Stonechat and Northern Wheatear were again obvious, with a couple of non-fatal collisions of the latter into the house windows during the afternoon! A loud frenzied fly past of 13 Chough a couple of times could then be followed all over the nearby moor as they covered the larger area.
Welcome news has come from the now most important breeding area for Hen Harrier in England. Last year only ten birds were reared from four successful nests in the whole of the country. This year 22 young have been produced, all nests but one being on the United Utilities land holding. Whilst this is a resounding success, set against recent trends, the fact that there is so much similar habitat in the area ( the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire ) with an accompanying general absence of birds on immediately adjacent areas, despite them being around in spring, suggests persecution is still rife both there, and in other suitable areas of England too.
It shouldn't be forgotten that the United Utilities's ( then North west Water ) landholding was largely managed as upland shoots, under tenancy arrangements, until a Board decision was taken to severely limit these. Such has proved to be a very positive decision for conservation that now lends itself to the area providing an essential lifeline to a species under serious threat in England overall! Whilst I've criticized United Utilities on occasions, mainly on policy matters over which I've disagreed, this is one aspect for which they should be roundly applauded as , over the years, it hasn't necessarily made them popular with surrounding shooting estates! This good news might hopefully now assist in repairing the rifts that have appeared within the tense, bleak periods previously.