Category Archives: Event

NERF Conference – advance notice

Northern England Raptor Forum Annual Conference

Binks Building, Chester University, CH1 4AR

This year the annual Northern England Raptor Forum Conference is being held on Saturday 23 November 2019, hosted by the Cheshire Raptor Study Group. Once again we have an excellent series of lectures delivered by bird of prey experts.

Subjects include:

  • Birds of Prey and Owls of Cheshire
  • Golden Eagles
  • Red Kites of Shropshire
  • Kestrels
  • Wintering Raptors on the Cheshire and Wirral estuaries

We will also have presentations from Cathleen Thomas, RSPB Hen Harrier Life Project Manager and Police Superintendent Nick Lyall, Chairman of the Police led Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group.

This your annual opportunity to learn something new about the birds we love. It is also a great opportunity to get together with old friends and make new ones in the field of bird of prey monitoring.

Delegate booking forms will be available from 1 September.


12 August 2019

Raptor Persecution Raising Awareness Day – Grassington Saturday 11 August 20

Birds of prey including Hen Harriers, Goshawks, Peregrine Falcons, Red Kites, Short-eared Owls and Ravens are very heavily and routinely persecuted, killed, in the North of England. Hen Harriers have been pushed to the point of extinction as a breeding species in England for decades. In 2018 the number of breeding pairs in England increased from 3 to 9 pairs and this has been flagged a good year for Hen Harriers, but is it really? No it is not; 2018 was another disastrous years for Hen Harriers and the spin doctors from the grouse shooting industry who claim otherwise are just that, spin doctors. What is true is that the only two females attempting to breed on a private driven grouse moor in England, laying 4 and 6 eggs with a polygamous male, failed in unexplained circumstance.

There is sufficient habitat to accommodate more than 300 breeding pairs of Hen Harriers so 9 pairs are a blip. A positive blip but hardly a reason to break out the champagne. The question is what causes the discrepancy between the scientifically projected figures for the Hen Harrier population and reality? The answer is both simple and obvious. All of the published research, including research published by Natural England, shows that the primary cause for this problem is persecution, birds being killed, predominately killed on land managed for driven grouse shooting; the preferred habitat for Hen Harriers. The connection between low Hen Harrier numbers and their dependency on heather moor is irrefutable and yet the grouse moor managers and their representatives, cry foul, fake news, we are good for managing land for waders. Waders? What about Hen Harriers? What about other birds of prey?

It is not just Hen Harriers that are severely and systematically killed on grouse moors. Every predatory bird species that uses heather moor habitat for breeding, feeding or over-flying suffers the same fate. Goshawks, Red Kites, Peregrine Falcons, Raven and Short-eared Owls are all under-represented, a euphemism for killed, in the uplands of the North of England. The common denominator of all of this under representation is that they all are in some way dependent on heather moorland. For several years North Yorkshire had been at the head of the bird of prey crime statistics, followed closely by the Peak District National Park.

To bring this tragic information to the attention of general public the Northern England Raptor Forum [NERF], a coalition of 10 Raptor Study Groups monitoring birds of prey along the Pennine Chain from the South Peak District to the Scottish border together with Cheshire, Greater Manchester, the Forest of Bowland and the North York Moors, organised a Raptor Persecution Awareness Day. The event, held at the Grassington Institute on Saturday 11 August, was supported by 100 plus attendees. Presentations in support of the event were made by Chief Inspector Louise Hubble, the head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Sgt Grainger, North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Unit, James Bray, RSPB Project Officer for Bowland, Guy Shorrock, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, Rhodri Thomas, Peak District National Park Authority and Ian Court, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Consensus amongst all of the speakers was that bird of prey persecution was having a serious, negative impact in the North of England and that the criminals, for that is what they are, must be held to account for their actions. It is gratifying to learn that all of the organisations present are working towards a positive outcome.

Steve Downing, NERF Chairman said,

“The persecution of birds of prey in the 21st century is a national disgrace which is prosecuted by individuals predominately involved in the grouse shooting industry. It is clear that the industry is incapable of regulating itself and NERF is demanding that Government introduces a system licensing for grouse shooting. Additionally NERF believes that grouse moor owners should be held accountable for the actions of their staff if they persecute birds of prey and that the Government should introduce vicarious liability legislation”


Sgt Grainger – North Yorkshire Police

Rhodri Thomas – Peak District National Park Authority

James Bray – RSPB Bowland Project Officer

Well attended throughout the day

Ian Court – Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Guy Shorrock – Senior Investigations Officer, RSPB

Chief Inspector Louise Hubble – National Wildlife Crime Unit


Raptor Persecution Awareness Open-Day – updated speaker list

The Northern England Raptor Forum is hosting this event to help raise public awareness of the levels of illegal persecution faced by raptors in northern England and the threats posed to our wildlife heritage.

Admission is free and open to all.  Why not come along and show your support with the added bonus of being able to enjoy a day in the Yorkshire Dales?

Venue:- Grassington Devonshire Institute, Grassington Village, North Yorks, BD23 5 AZ

Date & time:- Saturday 11th August 2018,    1000 – 1400 hrs

Access:- The  Institute can be found at the top of Main Street in Grassington.  There is a medium sized carpark 50 metres distant with wheelchair access to the building from the Moor Lane entrance. However the recommended main car Park  is at the Yorkshire Dales National Park site just off the B6265, Hebden Road in the lower part of the village (5-10 mins walk). 

The indoor meeting room will hold display stands with representatives on hand to answer questions and there will be a rolling series of short presentations (10-15 minutes) from expert speakers.  The aim is to raise awareness of how the continued illegal persecution of raptors in the uplands of northern England is significantly suppressing the number of breeding birds and their productivity and impacts on the opportunities for us all to experience these wonderful birds in their natural habitat. Speakers will highlight the current evidence of persecution and draw attention to initiatives in place, or still needed, to combat the problem.

The event is open to all on a ‘drop-by-any-time-and-stay-as-long-as-you-wish’ basis.

This is not a day of ‘protest’ needing placards or banners.  It is a day where the focus will be on the presentation of evidence-based data from long-term, detailed studies which will demonstrate the threats faced by birds of prey in the region’s uplands and the actions now required.

About The Northern England Raptor Forum

The Northern England Raptor Forum [NERF] represents volunteer Raptor Study Groups committed to the long-term monitoring of the populations of key raptor species across the region.  Our study areas cover the Pennine Chain from Northumberland to the South Peak district and extend to Cheshire, Manchester, the Forest of Bowland and the North York Moors. Species studied include Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Goshawk, Red Kite, Peregrine, Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Raven in addition to sample populations of commoner species.

Extensive annual monitoring of bird of prey species by NERF members has served to highlight the sad plight of some iconic raptors in the uplands of northern England.  Species such as Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Goshawk, Peregrine, Short-eared Owl and Raven are substantially under-represented in eminently suitable breeding habitat across the region, even within our designated Special Protection Areas [SPAs], National Parks and AONBs.  Whilst there are a number of causes for this it is widely accepted that illegal persecution, especially on land managed for driven grouse shooting, is a significant factor.  North Yorkshire has the unfortunate reputation of topping the RSPB’s Birdcrime tables, followed closely by the Peak District but the problem really extends throughout the region.  The number of confirmed persecution reports undoubtedly only represents the ‘tip of an iceberg’, with the majority of crimes going unreported

The information collected by members provides the most comprehensive data-set available based wholly on the evidence of extensive fieldwork and is published in the NERF Annual Review.  The data on breeding outcomes is used to inform species’ conservation and protection measures through its provision to the BTO, the national Rare Breeding Birds Panel, Natural England and the RSPB.

NERF is a member of the Police / Defra led Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime [PAW] under the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group [RPPDG] and is a past recipient of the prestigious PAW ‘Partner of the Year’ award.  NERF acts as a specialist consultant for the RSPB’s Hen Harrier, (EU) LIFE+ Project.

NERF has also co-authored several published scientific papers relating to birds of prey including the results of the BTO’s 2014 National Peregrine Survey and the RSPB’s 2016 National Hen Harrier Survey.

See our website for more information 

_    _   _   _   _   _

NERF believes that:-

# People must speak out clearly against raptor persecution

# RPPDG members must demonstrate how their organisation is delivering the aims of the Group or consider their position on the Group

# More police resources are needed to fulfil the investigative and prosecution expectations of the public and the RPPDG [an essential part of Defra’s Hen Harrier Emergency Recovery Plan]

# Defra and Natural England should abandon any plans for Hen Harrier brood management

# Defra and Natural England should instead focus on restoring species’ populations within formally designated Special Protection Areas to at least those originally cited

# Responsible shooting estates should have nothing to fear from the idea of introducing a licensing system for driven grouse shoots, a policy supported by NERF

Raptor Persecution Awareness Raising Day

Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) will be hosting a raptor persecution awareness day on Saturday 11th August 2018, in support of Hen Harrier day.

Raptor persecution takes place in all of the NERF study areas and involves a wide variety of species.  For this reason, NERF have chosen to highlight the problem as a whole rather than focus solely on Hen Harriers.

There will be presentations from Chief Inspector Louise Hubble, Head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and North Yorkshire Police Operation Owl, the RSPB Investigations Team and James Bray – RSPB Bowland Project Officer with more to be confirmed. 

Raptor Persecution Awareness Raising Day
Grassington Institute, Grassington, North Yorkshire. BD23 5AZ
Saturday 11th August 2018, 10:00 and 14:00 hours.

NERF supports the petition to license driven grouse shooting