Features


Radio Tagged Hen Harrier


On 13thOctober 2010, the daily sightings page carried the following report.

"The longed-for cloud descended overnight, but didn't really have the desired effect in terms of mass finch movement. However, there was consolation enough in the shape of three Hen Harrier, all ringtail birds of the year, that passed east over or past Hengistbury at various times throughout the morning. Of interest, the first bird, most probably a male, was actually seen to be carrying a satellite transmitter."

At the time, some cursory web searches were undertaken but little could be found that might give a clue to the origin of the bird. However, in early December, there was a posting on a Dorset email group about a radio tagged bird that had set up a winter territory in the Blandford Forum area. In response to this, we replied with the above excerpt, which began a series of dialogue with Natural England who were running this project. Of five birds tagged as nestlings in Lancashire this year, the bird seen at Hengistbury is known as 94588 and is indeed a male. This certainty of it being this individual is the knowledge of the whereabouts of the other four on or around the date of the CHOG sighting.


Photos and information courtesy of Natural England


So far, from the radio transmissions, this is what is known about the wanderings of 94588

- July to most of September: spent in the direct vicinity of the nest

- 23rd September: Yorkshire

- 12th to 23rd October: Dorset and Wiltshire, including the Hengistbury visual

- 26th October: moved back north to Shropshire

- 1st to 15th November: back in the area where he fledged

- 17th to 18th November: Leicestershire

- 24th November to 4th December: a few miles west of Blandford Forum

- 11th December: roosting just south-east of Blandford Camp

From the above series of records, it seems that 94588 has survived the winter so far.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for two of three females that were tagged at the same time and chose to winter in northern England or southern Scotland. Meanwhile, the fifth bird, another male, crossed to Spain in September and seems to be doing well down there.

If you see any radio tagged Hen Harriers, please report them to:

Stephen.Murphy@naturalengland.org.uk

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