Recently, it’s been one bad news story after another on this blog with many reports of our satellite-tagged hen harriers disappearing in unexplained circumstances.
So, it makes a nice change to give you some good news.
I’m delighted to report that, for the first time since 2015, there are hen harrier chicks at Bowland in Lancashire.
RSPB wardens discovered two hen harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them.*
One of the two hen harrier nests with chicks in Bowland. Photo by M Demain
A single male hen harrier is responsible for both of the nests and he is currently taking food regularly to them.
Bowland used to be known as England’s last remaining stronghold for breeding hen harriers. But, until this year, hen harriers hadn’t bred successfully there since 2015 when a single chick fledged.
We now hope that the arrival of these eight chicks may mark a reversal in the fortunes for the hen harrier in Bowland. It’s a nerve-wracking time for all involved in protecting these birds, especially for the team that have been constantly monitoring the birds since they arrived on the estate in April. The male hen harrier is doing a fantastic job of keeping the chicks in both nests well fed and we’re doing all that we can to ensure that they fledge safely.
* UPDATE: Since publishing this blog, the final egg on the second nest hatched late, making it five chicks (nine in total)