Natural England (NE) and the RSPB have confirmed that an eagle owl has been filmed on CCTV in the Forest of Bowland, in Lancashire, attacking a nesting female hen harrier, a subject Shooting Times’s Alasdair Mitchell referred to last week (Sharpshooter, 9 June). The harrier has not been seen again and its nest has failed.

According to NE, the news of eagle owl predation at Bowland is a significant blow to the hen harrier’s future. Dr Tom Tew, NE’s chief scientist, said: “Eagle owls, a non-native species, are a recent arrival in Lancashire, following their probable escape from captivity. The nest-cam footage confirms suspicions that they are impacting on hen harrier breeding success in Bowland. The additional threat posed by eagle owls to an already threatened population of hen harriers raises significant questions about the future survival of this native breeding bird in England.”

The CCTV footage shows a hen harrier being taken off the nest site and an ensuing struggle in long heather adjacent to the nest. The eagle owl then leaves the area to return and roost in the nest for a period of around two hours.

The rest of this article appears in 16th June issue of Shooting Times.

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