The hen harrier chicks in the rushes. Photo: Natural England

The hen harrier chicks in the rushes. Photo: Natural England

National park bosses are reporting a success for a rare bird of prey in an area that has become a blackspot for raptor persecution.

A family of four hen harrier chicks successfully fledged in mid-July in the Yorkshire Dales.

It is the first time the species has bred in the national park since 2007.

The hen harrier is one of the most persecuted of the UK’s birds of prey.

The national park authority said a pair of the birds produced four chicks in the south Lakeland part of the park.

The birds nested in a large area of rush on upland pasture primarily used for livestock grazing, with the local shooting estate having rights over it.

It said national park officers have monitored the nest site since early May, working closely with Natural England and the landowner. Cumbria police also offered behind-the-scenes support.

Natural England has attached satellite tags on two of the birds so their movements can be tracked.

Authority chairman Carl Lis said: “It is a source of joy, and relief, that hen harriers have at last bred again successfully in the Yorkshire Dales national park. These are magnificent birds, ideally suited to the Dales, and their long absence has shamed us all.

“Despite the brilliant news about the hen harriers, we shouldn’t forget that it has been only a few weeks since a red kite was found shot dead in the South of the national park.

“I would urge members of the public to pass on any information they might have to North Yorkshire Police. Grouse shooting concerns, conservation bodies, the police and local wildlife groups must continue to pull together.”

Two hen harriers attempted to nest in the Yorkshire Dales national park last year, but both attempts were thought to have failed because of natural predation.

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