August, 2011


Get the latest news on our hen harrier conservation work, including the five-year Hen Harrier Life+ project.

Skydancer - the UK's hen harriers

Follow the efforts of RSPB staff during the breeding season, as they attempt to monitor and protect one of England's rarest breeding birds of prey - the hen harrier.
  • Harriers all year round

    I just wanted to make a quick post to let you know that although the breeding season has come to a close for this year I will be keeping the skydancer blog alive over the autumn/winter months chatting about harriers and related issues. So, although my posts will become a little less frequent, keep checking in and hopefully, amongst other things I'll be able to provide you with updates about what some of this years birds are up to!

  • Help in protecting harriers.

    Well it’s very quiet up on the fell now, there are a few harriers still hanging around their natal areas but probably not for too much longer. Once the young have fledged and are able to hunt for themselves, the family groups disperse and leave the immediate locality of the nesting area. Indeed, ‘22’, the female who's nest was filmed and shown at the Beacon Fell visitors centre this year, was spotted over the border in North Yorkshire a couple of weeks ago, presumably headed off to where she successfully spent her first winter. Even one of this years juveniles has already left Lancashire for the north Pennines.

    The sighting of ‘22’ came in through the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Hotline. If you’ve not heard of it before, it is a facility that was set up in 2008 by the RSPB to allow people to report their sightings of harriers across the country.

    So, whilst you are out and about in the countryside over the next few weeks, keep your eyes open for harriers. They will not just be seen in their breeding grounds now, they will be using areas right across northern England, sussing out good hunting and roosting areas. Some will even be heading south, as they will not all over winter in this country. The harrier is a migratory bird and many will head south into France or even Spain over the winter, others head east to countries such as Denmark or the Netherlands.

    Any sightings of these magnificent birds you can send us will enable us to build up a greater picture of the areas harriers are using and allow us focus our monitoring and protection efforts accordingly. The sightings can be reported (in the strictest of confidence) to the RSPB Hen Harrier Hotline on 0845 4600121 (calls charged at local rate) or e-mailed to providing if possible the date and location of sighting, and a six-figure grid reference. Any details of wing tags or rings is also extremely useful.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Bowland black grouse update

    So I said I’d let you know about any further sightings of black grouse on the estate, well I’m afraid that despite various people putting in a number of days looking over the last few weeks there has been nothing more to report ... but we’ll keep looking!

    This sighting has just added to a number of tantalising reports in Bowland over the last few years. It would just be so great if they could establish a breeding population over the border in Lancashire. The Yorkshire Dales, which is not so far away has a number of black grouse populations, so it would not be unfeasible that they will eventually establish over the border somewhere.

    Mick did get good views of a juvenille cuckoo being fed by a meadow pipit though!