Hen harriers on brink of extinction in England

The national RSPB hen harrier survey found that there were just four breeding pairs of Hen Harrier in England, compared to 12 in 2010.

During the years the survey has been ongoing, the number of pairs in Wales fell from 57 to 35 - the lowest number seen there for over a decade. Northern Ireland's numbers dropped from 59 to 46. Scotland has 80% of the hen harrier population, with most of them in the west Highlands, but even there, the numbers dropped from 505 to 460.

Orkney and the Hebrides were the only areas of the country to see an increase in the number of these birds, although it was slight.

Overall, the UK hen harrier population has fallen by 88 pairs - or 13% - over the last six years. The hen harrier is now the most threatened bird of prey in the UK, thanks mainly to illegal killings and the destruction of its natural habitat

Stewart Parsons