We've received more brilliant news this week - in her first ever breeding attempt, our Northumberland female, Finn, is successfully rearing one chick at her nest in Southwest Scotland! The discovery was made by specially trained and licensed staff following up on Finn's welfare.
Finn's offspring - a single, large but still downy chick hidden in the heather. (Image: RSPB)
Hen harriers don't always breed in their first year, in fact historical records estimate only between 8-30% of first year birds make the attempt. And often when they do, the risk of failure is greater due to inexperience or laying infertile eggs. So although a single chick may not seem like much, for our young Finn, it's a fantastic achievement.
All being well, we expect that Finn's chick will fledge in the next 7-10 days.
Finn herself was named after teenage conservationist and blogger, Findlay Wilde, who together with energy company, Ecotricity, sponsored Finn's tag. As you can imagine, he was utterly delighted to hear the news.
Findlay said: "I'm delighted to be able to shout from the roof tops about Finn's first successful breeding attempt. She has proven to be a very determined bird since fledging last year. Successes like this are treasures for everyone to enjoy and talk about, as silence will not protect these amazing birds of prey. Hen harriers are on an incredibly difficult journey, just like the one Finn's chick is about to set off on. There needs to be vision and foresight to ensure that more birds like Finn get the opportunity of life"
Finn and her three siblings in their nest in Northumberland, July 2016. (Image: Martin Davison)
Andrew Miller of the Northumberland National Park, heads up the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership*, which watched over Finn and her siblings as chicks last year.
Andrew said, "It's wonderful news and so gratifying to see one of our birds not only surviving well but contributing to the next generation of hen harriers. It's been fascinating to watch her progress and this is further proof that hen harriers in England and Scotland aren't isolated from one another. I wish her and her chick well and have my fingers crossed for plenty more successful breeding seasons to come."
It's absolutely true that what happens on one side of the border has the potential to influence the population as a whole. That's why this year, the Hen Harrier LIFE Project has been fitting satellite tags to more hen harrier chicks, across a wider geographical range than ever before.
More on that to be announced in the coming weeks, so watch this space...
*the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership includes Northumberland National Park, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, RSPB, MoD, Northumbria Police, and the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF).
For more information about the Hen Harrier LIFE Project, visit www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife, and follow us on twitter @RSPB_Skydancer.