Most British birds of prey have largely recovered from historical persecution, but the beleaguered Hen Harrier is still struggling and remains far less common than it should be. This is a particular shame, because it is one of our most inspiring raptors. Spectacular sky-dancing displays and balletic food passes from male to female brighten up the moors in summer. And in winter, communal roosts in the lowlands attract birders from far and wide to catch sight of this now-elusive species.
This book follows the Hen Harrier over a year: from rearing young hidden away in dense heather, to the fight for survival in the harshest months of winter. Interspersed among the monthly accounts are chapters on the history and status of this iconic bird, as well as an overview of one of the most intractable conflicts in modern conservation: the Hen Harrier's liking for grouse moors (and the grouse that are raised there) wins it few friends among shooters, and ongoing persecution continues to hamper its recovery. There are tentative signs of progress, but its fate as a breeding bird in England hangs in the balance.
Evocative illustrations, in part based on privileged access to the handful of breeding birds that remain on England's moors, showcase the Hen Harrier's exploits through the seasons. These will delight admirers of this species and hopefully foster a greater interest in its wellbeing. The Hen Harrier needs all the help it can get.
Ian Carter worked as an ornithologist at Natural England for 25 years before retiring early to spend more time watching and writing about wildlife. His books include Human, Nature (2021) and The Red Kite’s Year, an earlier collaboration with Dan Powell.
Dan Powell is an award-winning wildlife artist. His work appears in nearly 100 books, as well as numerous magazines. He is married to Rosemary, whose paintings also appear in this book.
"A portrait in words and watercolour, as tender and beautiful as it is informative, insightful and damning of failure to protect this iconic bird."
– Amy-Jane Beer, naturalist and author of The Flow
"This is an exploration and introduction to the ecology of the species and does that job very well [...] an affectionate portrait of a wonderful species."
– Mark Avery, author and environmental campaigner
"The Hen Harrier's Year, written by Ian Carter and illustrated by Dan Powell, is yet another superb book and compelling read, a sequel to their earlier work, The Red Kite's Year. The book is written and illustrated with a heart-felt and clear expertise of their subject. It is highly recommended and a must for those keen to learn more about the life history of the Hen Harrier, one of our most charismatic yet threatened raptors."
– Colin Shawyer, raptor biologist