I can’t believe that it has just turned a year since I started working in Bowland. Sadly, last year was not a good one for harriers in England to put it mildly, and so it is with nervous excitement that I look forward to this my second season on the United Utilities estate.  

Despite the recent fall of snow reminding us that it is still winter, the first signs of spring are appearing. The snowdrops are flowering in my garden and as predicted, our young female 74843 or Betty as she has become known, has arrived back in Bowland. In fact, I've just been on a site visit to Gisburn forest on what has been a cracking sunny winters day, and whilst there I had a telephone conversation with Stephen Murphy who told me that she had been flying around the forest just a couple of hours previously. Our visits obviously didn't coincide this time, but I can't wait to catch up with her again in the not too distant future!

Betty having her satalite tag fitted by Stephen Murphy  © Jude Lane, RSPB 2011.

Hen harriers, like many birds of prey, are site faithful and tend to return to the area in which they were born to breed. We know that Martin sadly didn’t make it through his first winter but with any luck we will start to see some more of last years young and previously successful breeders, like our champion female 73587, joining Betty in the Bowland fells over the next month to six weeks looking to attract a mate. I’ll keep you all updated ...