Dozens of hen harrier chicks have been successfully reared in England this year in what has been a “record” breeding season for the threatened bird.
There were a total of 15 nests, with 15 successful breeding pairs and 47 chicks, outdoing the previous recorded best for England in 2006 of 46 birds, government conservation agency Natural England said.
Tony Juniper, the agency’s chairman welcomed the “better breeding season” but warned hen harrier numbers were still far from where they should be, with the birds of prey victims of illegal persecution.
Over the last two years, 81 chicks have been raised to fledging, outstripping the total for the previous five years combined, the figures show.
Chicks have also hatched in a wider variety of areas this year, including in Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale, Derbyshire and Lancashire.