Wildlife experts have hailed a resurgence in hen harrier numbers following a successful protection plan in Northern England.
The Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership has announced that 18 young have fledged from five nests on Forestry England land and two private estates this year.
Northumberland continues to be a stronghold for rare hen harriers as 2021 is the seventh year in a row multiple nests have been successful.
The partnership is made up of different organisations, including land owners, wildlife bodies, police and local raptor experts who have worked together through the pandemic to co-ordinate nest watches, ringing birds and satellite tagging.
Gill Thompson, National Park Ecologist and chair of the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership, said: “The species is going from strength to strength in the county and I hope we will have even more successful nests next year.”
Forestry England ecologist Tom Dearnley said: “These figures mark the seventh year of breeding success for what is still an exceptionally rare bird.
“That’s down to an effective partnership and excellent, sensitively managed habitats.
“There is much more work to be done.
“But it is pleasing to reflect that Northumberland is now a key stronghold in England for what we hope is a national resurgence of the species.”
Hen harriers, known for their spectacular flight, have traditionally been persecuted as part of grouse moor management.
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