Northern England Raptor Conference 2012

by on Nov.21, 2011, under Birdwatching

Yesterday was the annual conference of the Northern England Raptor Forum; this year organised by the Durham Bird Club and the Durham Upland Bird Study Group.  As we drove south, the lovely late-autumn sunshine at home was replaced by cold, gloomy fog to the south of the Tyne, and we arrived at the Gala Theatre in Durham ready for the conference.

Birdwatching in our uplands is something that we really enjoy, and the raptor conference is always an opportunity to get inspiration for our field studies, consider new ideas and techniques, and do the odd bit of networking 😉

There was a good line-up of presenters this year, covering a wide range of topics, probably the best set of talks at any of the raptor conferences we’ve attended since 2006; ‘Changing raptor populations and the role of the RBBP’,  ‘Eagle research and conservation around the world’, ‘The national Hen Harrier Winter Roost Survey’, ‘The implications of climate change for the uplands’, ‘The work of the Northern England Raptor Forum’, ‘Monitoring raptor populations with the nest record scheme’, ‘The challenges of monitoring Short-eared Owls’ and, the concluding presentation of the conference, ‘Skydancer, a new start for Hen Harriers in Cumbria and Northumberland’.

The final talk was always likely to prove the most contentious.  We’ve been involved in Hen Harrier conservation for a few years now, and know the extraordinary issues involved with trying to conserve the species as a breeding bird in England.  During the North Tynedale nest  monitoring between 2006-2008 there were lots of discussions about community engagement and how important that would be to Hen Harrier conservation, and it’s great to see a project that is going to tackle that part of the issue.  It won’t be the whole answer to the problem, but it’s a part of it and we hope that the purposeful birdwatchers of the Northern England uplands will be optimistic and support the project in any way they can.  We wish Amanda, Blanaid and all of the team involved in ‘Skydancer’ every success with the project 🙂

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