Derby

'Skydancers' return to Derbyshire Peak District

Baby hen harriers Image copyright Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group
Image caption The three chicks are likely to be satellite tagged to monitor their movements

A pair of hen harriers, one of England's rarest and most persecuted birds, have bred in the Peak District for a second successive year.

The National Trust said three hen harrier chicks were nesting in the High Peak Moors area of the national park.

It said it was "critical" they were now left alone.

In 2018, the "skydancers", as they are also known, had two chicks which both disappeared in "suspicious circumstances", the RSPB said.

Image copyright Laurie Campbell
Image caption Male hen harrier 'skydancer' in flight

Jon Stewart, general manager for the National Trust in Peak District, said he was "delighted" that "one of the most persecuted birds of prey in Britain" had nested.

Hen harrier chicks have also hatched in four nests in Bowland, Lancashire.

In March, a Natural England study found 72% of tagged hen harriers disappeared from managed grouse moors because of illegal killing.

Image copyright Laurie Campbell
Image caption Female hen harrier in flight

The Trust's High Peak Moors Vision, which was set up to restore wildlife to the uplands, in Derbyshire, has seen hen harriers breeding in 2014, 2018 and now in 2019.

Mr Stewart said: "It is critical the birds are now given the space and security to rear their young without the threat of disturbance or worse."

He added that there are plans to fit satellite tags to the young to monitor their movements.

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