Donald was a male hen harrier from an MoD base in Argyll, West Scotland, named by MoD police and satellite-tagged alongside his sister, Wendy, in July 2016 by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE Project.
Donald and his sister Wendy were two of four young to fledge from one of two successful nests at HM Naval Base Clyde's high security Coulport site, which is the storage and loading facility for the UK's Trident nuclear warheads. The security at the base that protects the submarine service also provides a sanctuary for hen harriers and local MoD Police play an active role in monitoring any nesting attempts alongside experienced local raptor workers.
Donald was named by MoD Police Wildlife Crime Officer, John Simpson, after the renowned hen harrier expert, Donald Watson (1918-2005). A talented artist and dedicated ornithologist, Donald Watson wrote and illustrated The Hen Harrier (Poyser Monographs), which is widely considered to be the definitive guide to this species.
Not satisfied with his jaunt to the Isle of Man, Donald recently took a hop, skip, and a jump across Wales, all the way to Northern France, mirroring the journey of our 2014 female, Chance. Donald was the third satellite tagged hen harrier we have recorded making this journey after Northumberland bird, Nile, in 2015.
Sadly, not long after his arrival in France, the data from Donald's tag showed that he had stopped moving, indicating that he had died. He was traced to an area of scrubby farmland but by the time our team could reach him, the battery in his tag had run down, meaning the signal had stopped. Despite a thorough search of the area, his body couldn’t be found, so we will never know the cause of death.