Four rare hen harrier chicks fledge in Peak District

Four rare hen harrier chicks fledge in Peak District

Four rare hen harrier chicks have fledged in the Peak District this year reports National Trust and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Hen harriers, often known as Sky Dancers due to the males swooping aerobatic mating displays, have long been persecuted and is one of the most endangered breeding birds of prey in the country. Numbers are so low that they are classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. 

The discovery of the nest was not announced at the time. On finding it, the National Trust worked alongside RSPB and the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group to support the monitoring and satellite tagging of the young chicks. 

It’s the first successful nest in the Peak District since 2019. Two chicks fledged in 2018 but once they left National Trust land their satellite tags stopped transmitting. Prior to that hen harriers bred in the Peak District in 2014. 

Four hen harrier chicks 15th June 20201

(C) The four hen harrier chicks – taken 15th June 2021

Dave Savage, Regional Manager for the Dark Peak and White Peak at the Trust said “Four chicks is fantastic news but hen harriers should be seen frequently across North Derbyshire, instead they are struggling due to persecution and the way that the land is managed.” 

According to DEFRA, the Government Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, there should be at least 33 breeding pairs in the Peak District. 

Hen harriers nest on the ground among the heather of upland moorlands. They winter in the lowlands, particularly around the coast, on heathland and on farmland. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is set to launch its Wild Peak project which will see large areas of the uplands restored and  reconnected – for nature’s recovery, and for species such as hen harriers. It’s part of the Trust’s larger goal to restore and reconnect 33% of Derbyshire by 2030. 

Dave continues, “We’re working hard to ensure the uplands are a much better place, for hen harriers and all wildlife. This year’s successful nest shows huge potential if the Peak District was wilder.” 

Support the Trust’s work to create a Wild Peak by signing up to the Trust’s newsletter to get all the latest news as the project develops. Sign up at