Hen Harrier has bred in Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, for the first time since 2015.
RSPB wardens discovered two Hen Harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence, who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them. A single male harrier has fathered young at both nests and is now regularly taking food to each.
The good news makes a welcome change to the procession of reports of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers either killed or disappearing in unexplained circumstances.
Hen Harrier remains on the verge of extinction as a breeding bird in England owing to the continuous illegal persecution of the species associated with driven grouse shooting. Although experts estimate there is sufficient habitat for at least 300 pairs across northern England, last year there were only three successful nests in the whole country. Bowland used to be known as England's last remaining stronghold for breeding Hen Harriers, but both 2016 and 2017 proved blank years after just a single chick fledged in 2015.