HOPES are growing the Forest of Bowland can become a hen harrier stronghold again after chicks hatched for the second year running there.

RSPB staff have confirmed chicks have been born in four nests across the Bowland Estate.

Just nine successful nests were recorded countrywide last year - though it is thought Northern England could sustain at least 300 breeding pairs.

James Bray, RSPB Bowland project officer, said it had been feared last year's hatchlings, the first since 2015, were a "one-off".

"This gives us some hope for the future. Last year, we saw 13 chicks fledge at Bowland," he added.

"Perhaps this year we might have even more."

The nests were discovered on the United Utilities owned land in early spring and were closely monitored by staff and volunteers.

Elliott Lorimer, from the Forest of Bowland AONB Partnership said: "We are absolutely delighted that there are hen harrier nests again this year on the UU Bowland Estate and have our fingers crossed for the newly-hatched chicks."