The direct and indirect effects of predation by hen harriers on trends in breeding birds on a Scottish grouse moor

David Baines, Stephen Redpath, Michael Richardson, Simon Thirgood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Two phases of an experimental reduction in management at Langholm Moor in southwest Scotland provided an insight into factors that determined trends in the abundance of moorland birds. In 1992 the historical control of breeding Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus stopped and in 2000 grouse moor management was discontinued. Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Curlew Numenius arquata and Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus declined, whilst Carrion Crow Corvus corone and Snipe Gallinago gallinago increased. Hen Harriers increased from two to 20 breeding females, then declined back to two. Lapwing abundance was positively associated with that of Hen Harriers, and moorland passerines (Skylark Alauda arvensis, Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis and Stonechat Saxicola torquata) were negatively associated. Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Red Grouse, Skylark and Hen Harrier were more abundant when the moor was managed for grouse, whilst Carrion Crow, a common predator of clutches of ground-nesting birds, increased during the second half when management ceased. Increased Crow numbers, together with an increase in Red Foxes Vulpes vulpes, probably contributed to the observed bird declines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
Issue numberSupplement 1
Early online date21 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
EventBOU Annual Meeting on Birds as Predators and as Prey - Leicester, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Apr 20073 Apr 2007


  • predator control
  • Red Grouse Lagopus Scoticus
  • waders
  • raptor predation
  • Scotland
  • management
  • abundance
  • declines
  • UK
  • conservation
  • limitation


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