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
The fine spring gave way to a hot summer. The moors shimmered with heat haze. Young harriers were now big and strong and they were spread around their nesting areas making little flights encouraged by their parents.
The first fledged swallows (like the ones pictured below) were now collecting on wires and house martins were well into their second broods. The last few months had raced past and now the endless surveying was more or less over and I was able to spend time with individual families of birds as their breeding seasons approached their end.
I’d not been focussing particularly on Bowland’s merlins ... a blessedly uncontroversial bird of prey. But one nest was near a harrier site and I’d been keeping an eye on them and the young birds (one is pictured below) where now sitting about amongst the heather tucking into a meal or making short flights.
I even had time to sit in the car and listen to some of the World Cup Final (Italy 3, West Germany 1).
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