Bea Ayling (Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project Manager)
In June and July, a number of hen harrier chicks across England and Scotland were satellite tagged as part of the RSPB’s new Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project.
The project seeks to better understand the movements of these magnificent birds to help identify areas where they are most at risk.. This need became particularly pertinent in the 2015 breeding season when 5 nests failed in northern England due to the well-publicised, unexplained disappearances of the healthy male adult birds.
As the new Project Manager (covering for Blánaid while she is off enjoying her own brood), I am on tenterhooks to see how the 2015 breeding season pans out having started the role smack bang in the middle. I am particularly excited about being able to track our birds online! A couple of the project’s satellite tagged birds will be made public here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife/.
The latest tag went on a female chick on the Isle of Man, named Hetty. It’ll be fascinating to see where she disperses to for the winter as hen harriers are known to range far and wide. Maybe she will encounter some of our other tagged birds across the sea in England and Scotland! Maps of her movements should be available on the website in the next few weeks.
Hetty and her brother prior to ringing and tagging. Photo credit: John Hellowell
I really hope that allowing the public to follow our tagged birds’ helps raise awareness and understanding of hen harriers, encouraging recognition that hen harriers are an intrinsic part of the UK’s uplands, and that we’re all responsible for their protection.