Together, the BBC's seasonal wildlife series, Autumnwatch, Winterwatch and Springwatch, are watched and beloved by literally millions of people across the UK every year. From eagles to beetles, they're a fabulous showcase for inspiring and engaging people about all that is wonderfully wild about nature in Britain, and are a great means of raising awareness about some of our lesser-known species.
When hen harriers were mentioned on BBC Autumnwatch, at RSPB's Leighton Moss, last November, our Hen Harrier Hotline was inundated with calls and emails from people across the country wanting to report their sightings. Not all turned out to be hen harriers of course, but the fantastic thing is that it sparked so many people's interest and got everyone looking! Of those that were definitely hen harriers, many of them were old records or from earlier in the year, as the people doing the reporting simply hadn't realised how threatened hen harriers were or how valuable reported sightings are for their conservation.
So as BBC Winterwatch kicks off this coming Monday (20th January), it's great to see that hen harriers are once again going to feature!
Here's what it says on their website:
Help for Hen Harriers
Hen Harriers effectively went extinct as a breeding species in England this year, and with numbers declining by 18% in the last 10 years across the UK they really aren’t doing very well. As one of our rarest birds of prey, they are becoming increasingly difficult to see in the wild - so Iolo Williams is on a mission to find one. Meeting up with researcher Stephen Murphy, they track down one of his satellite tagged birds to a grouse moor on the Scottish borders. Along the way, Iolo finds out what’s happening to our hen harriers and how Stephen’s new research could help us protect the species.
Wintering hen harrier on the Dee Estuary (c) Mike Davenport, 2013
Looking forward to tuning in!
In the meantime, keep those hen harrier sightings coming by emailing details of the date, time and location (grid reference if possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 08454600121 (calls charged at local rates). For sightings in Scotland, there's a Scottish hotline you can report to - HenHarriers@snh.gov.uk - managed by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland. The more information we have, the better equipped we'll be to protect these amazing birds.