Missing hen harriers from RSPB Geltsdale – appeal for information

Two male hen harriers have disappeared from the area around the Geltsdale RSPB reserve in the north west of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Cumbria Police are calling for information regarding the ‘missing’ birds. Both were servicing nests with sitting females; they flew off the reserve and didn’t come back. This isn’t the first time this has happened here – Cumbria Police have also highlighted the male bird that went missing in the same circumstances in the same location in 2020. This bird was servicing two nests and as a result, both nests failed.  We use the words ‘nest failed’ quite a lot – it means all that promise, that life, that opportunity to boost a tiny population – was lost. All these birds were, as Cumbria Police say, “…in good health, in a perfect environment for them to thrive, with plenty of food,” concluding that “ is highly unlikely that the Harriers have died of natural causes.”

What the police are saying is that there is a pattern, and that this pattern suggests a crime has been committed. If you know anything about these missing harriers and the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, please come forward and contact Cumbria Police.

Cumbria Police are seeking further information and have issued a press release and social media appeals. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Cumbria Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 / You can read the Cumbria Police press release here.

We always urge people to keep a keen eye out for hen harriers, and other raptors, in the North Pennines. Visit our reporting raptor sightings page for further information.

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