by Adrian Blackmore

Natural England has recorded the best year for hen harrier breeding in England since its hen harrier recovery project was established in 2002. There were a total of 24 nesting attempts, ten of which were on land where the RSPB had primary control over the access. Of those ten nesting attempts, five failed. There were a number of reasons for those nest failures, one being thought to have been due to predation by a fox, two having being abandoned for unknown reasons, with the remaining two nests probably due to the disappearance of a breeding male. The 19 successful nests were spread across Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria and Lancashire, with a total of 60 chicks being fledged from those nests early this summer. 12 of those 19 successful nests were on land managed for grouse shooting. 
The figures for hen harrier breeding attempts, successful nests and chicks fledged this year are the highest since 1986, as can be seen from this chart covering that 35-year period. In the case of the number of chicks fledged, the increase has been dramatic. This is marvellous news, and it means that over the past three years alone, we have seen a total of 141 hen harrier chicks have fledged in England.

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