Hen Harrier day 2018 was celebrated all over the country with many events staggered over two weekends marking this special day. Since the first Hen Harrier day back in 2014 this event has gone from strength to strength as the public have become more aware of the cruelty on our moorlands. The destructive nature of driven grouse shooting on the lead up to, during and after is killing so much wildlife and leaving us with a controlled, managed landscape that only benefits the landowners.
I attended the Parkgate Hen Harrier day, this location is a place I know very well having visited it for many years. A few years back I wrote an article on the high tides that happen at Parkgate and you can read the blog post I wrote by clicking here. During the winter months you maybe lucky and see Hen Harriers there also as they have a winter roost site there. I got there early but didn’t see any Hen Harriers but I did see a few Marsh Harriers which was wonderful as a backdrop to the event.
From the young to the old including many dogs they turned up to show their support for the Hen Harrier and to demand change to what is happening to them. It was wonderful to see so many from previous Hen Harrier days and from the BAWC wildlife crime conference in Bristol I had the privilege of speaking at. Brilliant speeches from everyone and so much passion on display. Whenever Ive attended a Hen Harrier day and then leave for home I always feel full of energy and hope that grouse shooting will end in my lifetime.
The Peak District is close to my heart, I often write about this wonderful place that has brought me great peace and beauty into my life since I first visited this area at age of 12. Over the last couple of years this wonderful place has seen countless innocents of cruelty, trapping and killing of wildlife that live on these moors. The brilliant undercover work by the Hunt Investigation Team recently has shown us all to what lengths these gamekeepers are going to in order to make sure their are good numbers of Red Grouse for these paid shoots that commence on August 12th.
Alot of the areas I go to photograph Red Grouse, Mountain Hares and other wildlife has changed alot. I often come across gamekeepers walking the moors with shotguns and dogs and there is always a very uneasy stand off when I appear.
They like to call grouse shooting “Tradition” something passed down from generation to generation from a world most of us will never be invited into. Many grouse moors now are often like the many monoculture landscapes I’ve seen in Sumatra, Indonesia and Madagascar with the vile and lifeless palm oil plantations they have there. The estates are owned by a mixture of lords, dukes, earls and barons as well as bankers, businessmen and firms based in offshore tax havens.
The British government subsidies grouse moors, and not so long ago raised the subsidy it provides for grouse moors from £30 per hectare to £56. While the poor in society are being forced out of their homes through government cuts, homelessness is blighting our streets. The demand for food banks reaches an all time high our money is used to subsidies grouse moor estates. Who then kill everything that lives there pushing birds like the Hen Harrier to extinction.
The small reprieve for the Red Grouse that are left is only short lived though as they are slaughtered too for vast amounts of money from 12th August right the way through to December 10th. While the rest of us are struggling the interests of the very rich are ring fenced and protected. Without nature there is nothing, and the systemic, brutal sterilising of our national heritage can’t carry on.
Wildlife doesn’t just disappear, birds of prey are iconic and belong on these moors and so do the Red Grouse, the Mountain Hares and all the other wildlife slowly being murdered and removed so people can blast native, innocent wildlife for sheer fun and that’s all it is. It brings too the surface the murky side of this country I live in. It shows us the dirty underbelly of the class and what is does and how it changes some people born into wealth but are so removed from reality its unbelievable.
The passion and drive I saw at the Parkgate event was amazing signalling that people aren’t having this no longer and things will and are changing. At times the country only favours the rich, the upper class those with Tory friends and donors that’s clear to see but what they cant buy, stop or pay off is peoples passion to see the right thing is done. We are a nation of wildlife lovers at the core and nothing and nobody can ever stop that or use their power and wealth to blow out that candle of hope. Because as long as you still have hope you have everything.
Well done to everyone that came along to show their support. Thank you to everyone behind the scenes in organising this event along with all the other wonderful events that hopefully will carry on and keep these remarkably birds alive along with all the other species that live alongside the Hen Harriers.