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Record breeding year for hen harriers
Natural England will monitor the birds’ progress as they move away from their nest areas.

Total of 81 fledged chicks in two years 

A record breeding year for hen harriers has seen a total of 15 nests producing 47 chicks, according to Natural England.

Over the past two years, there have been 81 fledged chicks, compared to a total of 55 chicks over the previous five years put together. The previous highpoint was 2006, when 46 chicks were produced.

Chicks also hatched in a larger range of areas this year, including Northumberland, the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale, Derbyshire and Lancashire.

A wide range of organisations worked together to care for and protect the hen harrier chicks, including conservation organisations, local police, estates and their keepers, farmers and a large number of volunteer raptor enthusiasts.

Natural England will monitor the birds’ progress as they move away from their nest areas, using satellite tags that have been fitted to a high proportion of chicks.

Commenting on the news, Ian McPherson, of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “At long last, there are grounds for cautious optimism with hen harriers again breeding successfully in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. These are magnificent birds, ideally suited to the Dales, and their long absence has shamed us all.”

Dr Adam Smith, of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, added: “More hen harriers better distributed has been our conservation goal for many years. So the trend toward more harriers breeding successfully in the English uplands over the last two years is very encouraging. We hope successful grouse moors managing a co-existence with harriers will become a regular part of our moorland management scene.”

Natural England chairman Tony Juniper welcomed the positive news but added: “We must remember that the hen harrier is still very far from where it should be as a breeding species in England, not least due to illegal persecution.”

In February, the public body released a research paper that revealed young hen harriers in England suffer abnormally high mortality, and the most likely cause is illegal killing.

Mr Juniper pledged to work with colleagues to pursue all options for the recovery of the species.

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.