Thirty years ago I started working for the RSPB on a six month upland bird surveying contract – with the additional challenge of helping to protect England’s only regular nesting hen harriers. The Forest of Bowland was the only stronghold for hen harriers in England in 1982 – it still is. I’ll be contributing a series of guest blogs over the spring and summer and tweeting in real time on @andrefarrar

My Talbot Horizon had its limitations – fond of it, though I was.  It had sheltered me during odd downpours (thought the spring and summer of 1982 was generally fine and dry) – I’d had to pull over when one of Simon Bates’ ‘Our Tunes’ had caused me to get ‘something in my eye’. I’d sung along to ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ (Soft Cell, in case you were struggling to bring that to mind).

But it wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination an off-road vehicle. So I had a lot of walking to do, and it was doing wonders for my fitness. The seasons were still in flux and then as now its always enjoyable to see the last of the winter’s fieldfares as the first swallow arrives.

One walk was delightfully interrupted by the chance to sit and watch green hairstreak butterflies, new for me, as they settled on damp mud on the track.

Now the peregrines had completed their clutch of four eggs, I had the task of climbing up to the nest to mark the eggs – I had my licence and the magic pen, I was just bit short of climbing equipment (this was pre ‘elf and safety so I’ll say no more about my climbing technique).

The walking continued – transects to assess the numbers of birds generally over the moorland, linking stops to check on hen harrier nests (four at this stage with other birds around).

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