Working in the Investigations Section, it often seems that we are faced with lots of doom and gloom, be it shot or poisoned raptors or hoards of illegally taken wild birds’ eggs.

Well today, we have a lot to celebrate; the national figures have just come in for breeding Montagu’s Harriers in the UK and 2007 looks like it has been a record year. Overall, 2007 saw 25 juvenile harriers fledge from 13 nesting attempts with birds present in six counties. This is slightly up on the record in 2006 when 24 young fledged from 14 attempts.

Although the stars of the show were undoubtedly the birds present at the RSPB Aren’t Birds Brilliant viewing scheme at Digby Fen in Lincolnshire, where four juveniles successfully fledged, a huge amount of effort is put in annually by many volunteers and farmers at other sites throughout the UK – so a big thank you to them.

The Montagu’s harrier is the UK’s rarest breeding bird of prey, preferring to nest in agricultural environments and coastal saltings particularly in East Anglia and SW England.