Back in July, we blogged about Hetty, a young hen harrier on the Isle of Man, satellite tagged as part of the LIFE project with Manx Birdlife.
Unfortunately we have some sad news to report. Transmissions from her tag showed our Investigations Team that she had stopped moving and so they went out to the Isle of Man this week to look for her. Sadly, as expected, she had not survived, and was found only 2km from her nest site.
We cannot speculate about the cause of death at this stage, but her body had been heavily predated. Her remains have been sent for post mortem and we are anxiously waiting for the results.
This case highlights the potential hardship hen harriers face trying to survive alone when newly fledged from the nest, whether that is difficulty finding food or avoiding adverse weather, predation or illegal persecution. Any hen harrier making it to adulthood to breed is a feat of endurance.
Luckily in this case, we had the technology in place to allow us to find Hetty and investigate the reasons for death. We will share the results in due course.
We’d like to thank Lesley Cowin who named the bird in memory of her late father Sydney Cowin who bequeathed an amount of money to the local charitable trust, the Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside (SPMC) which part funded the costs of the satellite tagging procedure, and we hope we can work with Manx Birdlife again next year.
We’d hoped to feature Hetty’s movements on the LIFE Project website, alongside some other birds tagged this year. This has been delayed because we have been waiting for the birds to move away from the areas where their nests were. We think we should be good to go in a couple of weeks, and we look forward to sharing the travels of these fantastic birds. Watch this space...!