• Eyes to the skies for returning hen harriers

    Buzzard, kestrel… or hen harrier?

    It's that time of year when we invite you all to look out for hen harriers as they return to their breeding grounds. If you think you’ve seen a hen harrier, please email: henharriers@rspb.org.uk

    A female hen harrier, credit Tim Jones

    Hen harriers are medium-sized birds of prey, similar to a buzzard but with a slightly slimmer appearance, with long wings and a long tail. Female…

  • Hen harrier Wendy: a top mum!

    Amazing mum Wendy is one of the RSPB’s oldest tagged hen harriers and has raised two broods already in the past two years. Will she have a third in 2021?

    Wendy in flight. Photo by Will Hayward

    As the hen harrier breeding season approaches, RSPB scientists are watching the skies for the return of one of their oldest satellite-tagged hen harriers, who has nested on the West Coast of Scotland every year since she…

  • There and back again: a tale of two hen harriers

    By James Bray and Niall Owen

    For several years now, satellite tags have been providing the RSPB with vital – and often surprising –  data on how and where hen harriers live. This is the story of two remarkable hen harriers, Bomber from Wales and Apollo from Lancashire, who have reset our expectations of what these remarkable birds can do.

    Apollo being tagged as a youngster in 2019 as part of the Hen Harrier…

  • Hen Harrier Day murals

    A flock of painted hen harriers has appeared across the UK in the form of three striking murals.

    These incredible creations have sprung up as part of Hen Harrier Day 2020: one at former home of Hen Harrier Day Rainham Marshes in Essex, one in Hartoft, in the heart of the North Yorks Moors and the other just outside Inverness.

    They’re a tribute to people’s passion for these inspirational birds, and aim to serve as…

  • Hen Harrier Day goes online!

    This Saturday the RSPB is supporting Online Hen Harrier Day, a packed programme of talks, mini films, competitions and artistic creations all celebrating the iconic, moorland-dwelling, sky-dancing hen harrier. The event will take place on 8 August and, like so many others, will be a fully online experience for 2020! It will be hosted by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin, and you can find it and subscribe at: www.youtube…

  • Happy birthday to our oldest harrier!

    We’re delighted to say that one of our tagged hen harriers has turned the distinguished age of five - making her the Hen Harrier LIFE project’s oldest bird.

    She was fitted with a satellite transmitter as a chick in June 2015, in Perthshire, Scotland, and is the only surviving bird from that year. By tracking her movements, we have been able to collect valuable data about the species, and it’s been a joy and…

  • Apollo spotted in sunny Spain!

    James Bray, our Bowland Project Officer has spotted Apollo at his wintering site.

    This is a second installment in the story of Apollo, a male hen harrier that was fitted with a satellite tag in 2019 as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project.

    Following Apollo’s post-fledging journey of almost 1,000 miles from Lancashire down to Portugal, he has been in Extremadura in central Spain since the end of October 2019…

  • Apollo arrives in Portugal

    James Bray, our Bowland Project Officer shares some exciting news about Apollo.

    This summer we had five hen harrier nests in Bowland, with a total of 22 chicks successfully fledging from these nests. RSPB staff and volunteers working on the Hen Harrier LIFE project helped to monitor and protect these young birds and their parents. We worked alongside United Utilities’ tenants, who helped by carrying out some of the diversionary…

  • Rare hen harrier illegally poisoned in Ireland

    The RSPB issued the following press release on 30 January 2020:

    • The female bird, named Mary, had been fitted with a satellite tracking device.
    • The bird’s body was found dead beside a pigeon and meat baits laced with poison.
    • Conservationists unite in condemnation of this appalling crime and call for a thorough and transparent investigation.

    A rare, protected bird of prey has been illegally poisoned near Drumconrath…

  • Hope for hen harriers? Reflections on 2019

    As we reach the end of 2019, Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, looks back over the year. Those of you that regularly follow the fates of hen harriers in the UK will know that it’s a real roller coaster of a journey, and 201...
  • One hen harrier found dead and tagged birds Thistle and Romario disappear in suspicious circumstances

    The RSPB is appealing for information following the discovery of the body of a hen harrier found to have been shot and the suspicious disappearances of two young satellite tagged hen harriers.

    A member of the public found the dead female bird on a grouse moor on the Dumfries-shire/South Lanarkshire boundary near the village of Wanlockhead on 7 June 2019. A post mortem examination of the body by SRUC vets confirmed that…

  • Hen harrier Ada disappears

    Northumbria Police and the RSPB have issued an appeal for information following the sudden disappearance of yet another satellite tagged hen harrier, a female bird known as Ada.

    Ada being tagged as a chick this summer

    Ada hatched on a nest on the Scottish borders this summer (2019). She was fitted with a satellite tag by the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project team, to learn more about the journeys made by these rare…

  • RSPB Hen Harrier LIFE Report

    We have now released our RSPB Hen Harrier LIFE project report. The report provides more information about the project, including outlining the existing threats to hen harriers, what we have done so far to address them, our major achievements over the past 5.5 years, and our recommendations for the future.

    The Hen Harrier LIFE project has been a resounding success - we've protected over 100 nests and 150 winter roosts…

  • The colour ring code

    Assistant Investigations Officer – Jack Ashton-Booth – from the Hen Harrier LIFE Project, talks us through the secret to uncovering a hen harrier’s history.

    The seasons have turned, and the autumn skies have grown big, blue and crisp. As our hen harriers settle into their roosts, traversing the landscape, you might have been fortunate enough to see one for yourself against the backdrop of the blustery…

  • Hen Harriers in Birdcrime Report 2018

    Every year our investigations team release a report listing the crimes against birds of prey in the UK. Last year, in the Birdcrime 2017 report, we revealed that there had been 68 confirmed incidents of bird persecution. Sadly, in 2018, that has increased to 87 confirmed incidents.

    What is most unsettling, is that these numbers simply don’t reflect the true scale of persecution. This is the tip of the iceberg when it…

  • Meet the class of 2019

    After a long summer, Dr Cathleen Thomas, Senior Project Manager for the Hen Harrier LIFE project is delighted to introduce you to the hen harrier class of 2019!

    It's been a busy time for the project team this summer, protecting and monitoring hen harrier nests across England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. We've tentatively watched as our tagged birds have taken flight and once they leave their nesting area, we…

  • Tagging success in Scotland this summer!

    Our project team have fitted more than 10 young hen harriers with satellite tags this summer in Scotland. We have worked hard this summer to tag birds from the Scottish Borders up to the Scottish Highlands, with the generous support and assistance from of a variety of partners, volunteers, landowners, their managers and staff, and licenced taggers from the raptor conservation community.  

    One of this year's Scottish youngsters…

  • Joy at new English hen harrier chicks is tempered by spectre of illegal killling

    The Hen Harrier LIFE project team are delighted to announce that we have been involved in protecting and monitoring nine successful hen harrier nests in England this year, with the successful fledging of 33 chicks. This marks the continuation of a small increase in hen harrier breeding success in England and we hope this progress continues, as the hen harrier is one of the UK’s most threatened bird species. 

    In addition…

  • Hen Harrier Day 2019

    If you’re wondering how you can support hen harriers, why not pop along to a Hen Harrier Day event?

    Hen Harrier Day returns this month for the fifth year running with one main event taking place on 11 August at Carsington Water in Derbyshire, hosted by Wild Justice. There will be a range of speakers including Chris Packham and Iolo Williams, as well as members of the Hen Harrier LIFE project team. The event is family…

  • Five nests and first flights at Bowland

    RSPB Bowland's Project Officer, James Bray, talks us through Bowland's 2019 breeding season, the excitement of 5 rare hen harrier nests, and conditions for the volunteer team as they brave the hills!

    For decades the Forest of Bowland was the most important site for breeding Hen Harriers in England. So much so, they were formally adopted as the logo of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB…

  • Satellite tagged hen harrier Rannoch killed by illegal trap on Perthshire grouse moor

    Senior Project Manager, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, is devastated to announce today that a satellite tagged hen harrier has been illegally killed on a Perthshire grouse moor. The remains of the young female, named Rannoch, were found by RSPB Scotland Investigations team in May caught in a spring trap which had been set in the open, not permitted by law.

    The post mortem report from SRUC veterinary laboratory said: “The bird was…

  • Guest Blog: Supt Nick Lyall - Getting up close with my first hen harrier.

    Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group Supt Nick Lyall talks us through his #myfirsthenharrier moment.

    In early October 2018, as many of you will know, I took on the role of chair of the England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group. Our work looks at raptors in general, but hen harriers are a regular focus of our work.

    Red kite and buzzards frequent the area I call home, and I have spent…

  • Top 3 places in Scotland to see a hen harrier!

    Tremaine Bilham, Hen Harrier Life Project Community Engagement Officer, shares the experience of her first hen harrier sighting and tells us about the places we’re most likely to see hen harriers in Scotland.

    Taking shelter from the blustery Orkney weather, I paced around a bird hide with a school group trying to keep warm. As I tried to impress upon them how lucky they were to have regular sightings of hen harriers…

  • Forsinard Flows flies the flag for hen harriers!

    Tremaine Bilham is the Hen Harrier LIFE Project's Community Engagement Officer for Scotland, working to raise awareness and promote the conservation of these spectacular skydancers. In this blog, she tells us about her education work with a group from Brora Primary at Forsinard Flows.

    Early spring brings new life and warmer weather… or so I hoped as I prepared to take a primary 5 class on a peatland field trip in Forsinard…

  • Hope for Harriers? – Rare hen harriers breed for consecutive year on National Trust High Peak Moors

    Roisin Taylor, Community Engagement Officer for the Hen Harrier LIFE Project, talks about new nests, and the hope that they bring for the hen harrier population.

    Following the exciting news yesterday that there are four nests at United Utilities Bowland Estate this summer, we are delighted to reveal that our partners at National Trust High Peak Moors have their very own rare hen harrier nest!

    This is the second year that…