Today, we are proud to introduce to you Holly and Chance, two satellite tagged hen harriers that you can now follow online!
Our new ‘Meet the Hen Harriers’ feature on the LIFE Project website (www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife) has been set up to feature some of the birds that we are satellite tagging through the project. We are tracking as many hen harriers as we can in order to gain a better understanding of the threats they face and identify the places they are most at risk since numbers have declined dramatically, due to intensive moorland management for grouse shooting and illegal persecution. Satellite tagging also allows us to locate and recover dead harriers in a timely manner which will assist the police and our Investigations Team in cases where the cause of death is suspicious.
More and more individuals will be added as the project progresses, and we hope the public will get involved in their life stories. Already Holly and Chance have been displaying some fascinating migration behaviour!
“Holly”, the first female harrier, had her satellite tag fitted in June this year by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, assisted by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Police, and was one of three chicks from a nest located on high security MOD land at Coulport. She was named after a member of the production crew from BBC Scotland’s Landward programme, after appearing in a special feature about hen harriers and the threats these birds face from illegal killing. Holly fledged in August and has since left her nest area, moving east into the uplands by Loch Lomond and central Scotland.
Holly on tagging day. Photo credit: John Simpson.
“Chance” is the second female hen harrier, named by RSPB Scotland, who was tagged in June last year by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group. Chance has provided a wonderful example of how young birds spend their first year. She travelled south from her nest in south west Scotland to the RSPB Wallasea reserve in Essex at the end of October (2014), before crossing the Channel to spend the winter months in the Pays de la Loire region of western France. Chance came back to the UK in spring this year and spent most of the summer in north east England. She has now embarked on her second migration to France, stopping in Wales en route!
Chance - photographed at Wallasea last October by Trevor Oakley
The maps will be updated every two weeks, showing data two weeks in arrears so that the birds’ exact locations cannot be determined for their safety.