Sir, – In response to Nicholas Rhea’s note on the hard-pressed hen harrier (Countryman’s Diary, D&S, Dec 4), he and others interested in birds and/or the North York Moors might care to note that one day in August my wife and I had the great pleasure of watching a harrier for several minutes as it quartered a moor near Commondale.

More briefly we spotted a harrier in the same area the previous summer. Going back a few years there was a week in which I made three observations of a harrier, perhaps the same bird, twice in Rosedale, and in Great Fryupdale.

The very first time I observed a harrier was at close quarters in Bransdale when a large harrier, no doubt a female, flew past within yards of where I was sheltering at the Badger Stone.

It failed to notice me and I watched it as it continued to the head of the valley, every now and then abruptly veering sideways in search of prey. The extent of moor it covered in a short time was amazing.

The moors are ideal terrain for the harrier, yet , as Peter Walker indicated, it is on the cusp of extinction. One trusts that the shooting interests have no hand in this.

But very disappointing is the inaction of the North York Moors National Park over the hen harrier. Though the authority likes to stress the diversity of bird life in the region, and makes much of how grouse moor management helps other species, including the merlin, a small bird of prey, it rarely, if ever, mentions the hen harrier.

The park should be foremost in protecting this magnificent bird and establishing the moors as one of its main strongholds, for which few other areas in Britain are better suited.

Incidentally, two summers ago my eldest daughter saw a “huge” bird of prey in the heather by Lockwood Beck.

Though this was almost certainly a harrier, probably the Commondale bird, I have been unable to convince her it wasn’t an eagle.

HARRY MEAD Great Broughton, Stokesley