Until the middle of the last century it was a general bird that brooded in every province in our nature reserves, but in 1990 it had almost disappeared. Until someone discovered a nest in a Groningen field.
Suddenly, agricultural areas became a last refuge where the gray harrier clung to it. That one find unleashed a movement that led to the Gray Harrier Working Group and led to an international network of cooperation, protection and research. It also became a story of successful cooperation between nature conservationists and farmers. A bird that was on the verge of extinction, but was saved in the nick of time. What is the secret behind this success?
The boundless story of one of the most beautiful bird species in the Netherlands and its protectors. A story of principles, research, protection and perseverance. Nature protection is a long-term matter. On June 29, 1990, an adventure began on a Groninger seawall on the edge of the Dollard. An adventure that would ultimately lead to a leading example of effective nature management in large-scale arable land.
What many (and still) did not think possible at the time, turned out to be possible. It became a story in which principles and convictions formed the basis for research into a species that can be found in decreasing numbers between the British breeding grounds and Western Mongolia in farmland and on steppes. It became a story of tinkling skylarks, rasping cornels, nesting short-eared owls and balding gray harriers.
Research and protection, a two-unit
Independent nature research is increasingly under pressure in and outside the Netherlands. Examples of fundamental and long-term work on an ideal in which field birds and agriculture are in balance are scarce. As part of the ecological research, birds were being hunted in many countries. From Belarus to England, and from Denmark to Senegal. The database of the Gray Harrier Working Group (recently known as Grauwe Kiekendief - Kenniscentrum Akkervogels) now boasts information about the gray harrier. Data that have generated a lot of knowledge and will deliver on promising forms of agriculture and nature management along the entire flyway : from the breeding grounds in Europe to the wintering areas in Africa. This work could reach a scientific level thanks to cordial partnerships between universities at home and abroad. And from that first litter in an alfalfa field in the Carel Coenraadpolder, an intimate partnership has arisen with hundreds of farmers.
Through the eyes of farmers, researchers and protectors
In the book, Elvira Werkman talks to farmers, researchers, protectors and others about complex topics such as the common agricultural policy, agri-environment, nature conservation at the cutting edge, sticking to your principles and ultimately the iron will for a highly endangered species. in our part of the world. These are often very emotional and wonderful stories from people who are convinced that we have to work towards other forms of agriculture.
The boundless story of the gray harrier
The Netherlands has little or no tradition of telling nature conservation stories. In this book we have tried to keep current affairs in it. So there is the brisk story of the first breeding steppe killer in the Netherlands in scents and colors to read back and there is a beautiful card recorded from the first rough-legged buzzard flying around with a GPS / GSM logger. The book is illuminated with beautiful illustrations by Gaudia Landman (15 years), tasteful infographics by Jan Faber and photographs by famous photographers, such as Martijn de Jonge , Mark Schuurman , Rein Hofman and others. Elvira Werkman writes a blog on the website of Vogelbescherming Nederland about the realization of the book.