Springwatch star joins campaigners at Hen Harrier Day rally in Buxton

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with Chris Packham and Henry Hen Harrier. Photo: Stewart Abbott.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with Chris Packham and Henry Hen Harrier. Photo: Stewart Abbott.

Naturalist and television broadcaster Chris Packham led a protest in the Goyt Valley, near Buxton, on Sunday against the illegal killing of a rare bird of prey.

Hundreds of campaigners and celebrities at seven sites across the UK took part in Hen Harrier Day, which aimed to raise awareness of the targeting of the birds.

The peaceful rallies, which coincide with the start of grouse shooting season on Wednesday, allowed people from all walks of life show their concern, celebrate hen harriers and discuss what can be done to save this beautiful bird.

Springwatch presenter Packham attended the protest at Goytsclough Quarry, in the Goyt Valley, and said cases such as Cecil the Lion showed how strong the public felt about preserving wildlife.

He said: “People are tired of animal life being wasted and particularly when that life is becoming increasingly rare.

“Killing hen harriers is illegal. We are not here to voice our opinion, we are here to ask for the law of the land to be upheld so that this persecution stops.”

He added that of the 350 to 400 pairs of hen harriers expected to be found nesting in the country last year, there were only six pairs found.

Packham said: “There’s a real danger that some of the children who have come along today won’t get the chance to see a hen harrier in their lifetime.”

Jo Smith, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, which helped organise the Goyt Valley rally, said: “We want everyone to be able to see the male’s spectacular, undulating display flight which gives the hen harrier its alternative name, the Skydancer.

“The fantastic turn out this weekend across the country shows how much people cherish hen harriers, and we are keen to see our uplands managed to ensure hen harriers return.”

Chris Packham addresses the crowd. Photo: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Chris Packham addresses the crowd. Photo: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Prior to Hen Harrier Day, a special sell-out gathering was held at the Palace Hotel on Saturday evening, featuring a range of guest speakers.

Hundreds of people turn up in the Goyt Valley. Photo: Kaite Helps/Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Hundreds of people turn up in the Goyt Valley. Photo: Kaite Helps/Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Henry the Hen Harrier. Photo: Tim Birch, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Henry the Hen Harrier. Photo: Tim Birch, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.