• Another Skydancer lost: Aalin disappears in Wales

    Dr. Cathleen Thomas, RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager explains that today we have more sad news about another bird, this time from the Hen Harrier Class of 2016.

    The population of hen harriers on the Isle of Man almost halved between 2004 and 2010, dropping from 57 to 29 pairs. No one was quite sure why this might be, but one theory was that young hen harriers could be migrating to the UK mainland and not…

    • 21 Mar 2018
  • Blood brothers: Manu's brother Marc also disappears

    RSPB Investigations Liaison Officer, Jenny Shelton, sheds more light on the disappearances of two hen harrier siblings, Marc and Manu, in similarly unsettling circumstances.

    Manu (left) and Marc (right) as nestlings (image by Tim Jones)

    If a mother hen harrier could give her chicks any words of wisdom, it might be this: stay away from grouse moors. Moorland is the natural habitat of these birds, but a number of them…

    • 1 Mar 2018
  • Class of 2017 update: Sirius and Eric die of natural causes

    RSPB's Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager, Dr. Cathleen Thomas gives an update on the class of 2017.

    The winter months can be hard for young hen harriers, and it’s a worrying time to monitor them. With poor weather, difficult foraging conditions, and the risk of illegal persecution, every day they survive feels like a small victory. That’s why I am sad to confirm the natural demise of more of the class of 2017.…

    • 1 Mar 2018
  • Skydancing with Gill Lewis

    Community Engagement Officer for England, Aimée Nicholson, talks about her experiences of working with children's author Gill Lewis.

    One of the greatest parts of being a Community Engagement Officer for the Hen Harrier LIFE project is being able to go into a school on a morning with children who know nothing about hen harriers and leave the same children, at the end of the day, Skydancing and singing about…

    • 11 Dec 2017
  • Two more hen harriers go missing

    RSPB's Project Manager for Hen Harrier LIFE, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, provides an update on the class of 2017.

    Through a career in conservation, you have the privilege of working with some amazing wildlife, but you also have to face the reality that most individuals will never fulfil their full potential, due to the threats they face on a daily basis. As I’ve followed the journeys of the juvenile hen harriers in the…

    • 24 Nov 2017
  • Introducing Cathleen

    Our new(ish) Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager Dr Cathleen Thomas reflects on her first few months in the role.

    Avid followers may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. Some of you will know that Blánaid Denman left the Hen Harrier LIFE project in August to become the RSPB’s Area Conservation Manager for the North East and Cumbria. Blánaid has done some great work on the project and we…

    • 6 Nov 2017
  • Mannin’s failed sea-crossing

    RSPB Scotland’s Investigation Intelligence Officer Jenni Burrell provides an update on Mannin, the Isle of Man sat-tagged hen harrier.

     Monitoring satellite-tagged hen harriers can bring many positives – following an individual bird from the day it was fitted with a transmitter until its first flights away from the nest area, its travels through the UK (and beyond in some cases) or even hopefully until its…

    • 11 Sep 2017
  • Meet the Hen Harrier Class of 2017

    RSPB Scotland’s Investigations Intelligence Officer Jenni Burrell introduces the new class.

    This year the Hen Harrier Life Project website has been improved to provide a more interactive experience for visitors. You can choose to look at individual birds, track their journey and look at any points of interests that appear.

    The profiles of twelve of this year’s satellite-tag hen harriers are now online and what…

    • 4 Sep 2017
  • Calluna has disappeared!

    I’m very sad to have to report that one of the hen harrier’s satellite tagged as part of the LIFE project this year, has already disappeared.

    “Calluna”, a female harrier, was tagged this summer at a nest on the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge estate, near Braemar. We were monitoring her transmitter’s data which showed that she fledged from the nest in July. She left the area in early August, and gradually…

    • 1 Sep 2017
  • Hen Harrier Day 2017 - in pictures

    Here are a selection of photos from last weekend's Hen Harrier Day events at RSPB Arne, RSPB Rainham Marshes, Sheffield, Boat of Garten and Vane Farm Tayside.

    Hen Harrier Day South - RSPB Arne - (photos by Terry Bagley)

    Hen Harrier Day Highlands - Boat of Garten (photos by Guy Shorrock)




    Hen Harrier Day Sheffield




    Hen Harrier Day - RSPB Rainham Marshes




    Hen Harrier…

    • 10 Aug 2017
  • Hen harrier breeding numbers in England 2017

    It’s the question to which everyone wants the answer – how many hen harriers bred in England this year?

    Answer: three successful nests, from a total of seven attempts, producing 10 fledged young.

    Today, the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership* have announced that five of this year’s nests, including the three successes, were under their watch, with four of these occurring on land managed by…

    • 1 Aug 2017
  • Competition: Help us name our hen harriers!

    You may remember last month I blogged about our 2016 Perthshire female, DeeCee and her fantastic brood of five healthy chicks (see here). Well, I’m now delighted to share that all five have fledged successfully from land owned and managed by Forestry Commission Scotland in Argyll – two of them sporting shiny new Hen Harrier LIFE Project satellite tags!

    Three of DeeCee's five chicks, July 2017 (Image: RSPB…

    • 31 Jul 2017
  • Exciting times: Hen harriers the next generation

    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…

    • 21 Jul 2017
  • Guest Blog: Stunning hen harrier chase on Isle of Man

     Peter Christian is a birdwatcher and photographer with a keen eye for detail. Here, he describes how he was lucky enough to capture an incredible photographic series of a hen harrier in pursuit of a meadow pipit, providing a rarely glimpsed view into lives of these extraordinary birds. All photographs are kindly reproduced with Peter's permission and remain his copyright. 

    As a keen birdwatcher and hobby photographer…

    • 18 Jul 2017
  • When the Sun Shines on a Moorland Field Trip

    What a busy few weeks it has been! Darting around the country, playing with puppets, constructing moorlands from playdough, refereeing Skydance Olympic competitions... Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Popping into primary schools to deliver hen harrier workshops and assemblies is a lot of fun. Occasionally, though, I feel especially lucky to have my job. I’m speaking about those days when the sun shines on a moorland…

    • 4 Jul 2017
  • Happy hen harrier family

    Great news for a Friday - a recent routine check of DeeCee's nest in Argyll, carried out by RSPB staff under full appropriate licences, has revealed a healthy brood of five chicks!

    Hen harrier DeeCee's healthy brood of five chicks. Can you spot the tiny youngest in the middle? 

    You'll need to look really closely to spot them all. Like many birds of prey, hen harriers lay their eggs a day at a time and they…

    • 16 Jun 2017
  • Hen harrier Class of 2016: an update

    As I sit at my desk with every window in the office open and the sun beating through the glass, it feels as though the year has abandoned any thought of Spring and skipped straight to Summer. Long may it last! It’s also a reminder (as if I needed one) that we are rapidly approaching the thick of the hen harrier breeding season, and my thoughts are naturally with our five remaining satellite-tagged females from 2016.…

    • 2 Jun 2017
  • Guest Blog: Join Bo the hen harrier at Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival 2017

    Originally from London but a resident of Lancashire for 17 years with a love of the surrounding countryside and wildlife, Helen Ficorilli is the Programme Director of the Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival, which has taken up residence in the Forest of Bowland over the last seven years. Here she tells us why a female hen harrier has this year been taken up as the emblem for this annual event. 


    Cloudspotting Music…

    • 30 May 2017
  • Another shot hen harrier... how many more?

    This is not the news I wanted to wake up to. Just weeks after the Crown Office discontinued a high-profile case against a former gamekeeper for the alleged illegal killing of a hen harrier despite clear video evidence, another hen harrier shooting has come to light. Police Scotland issued an appeal this morning, for information relating to the lethal shooting of a hen harrier near Leadhills, South Lanarkshire. You can…

    • 16 May 2017
  • Alleged hen harrier shooting case dropped

    In case you missed it, RSPB have just published film footage of a former gamekeeper allegedly shooting a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate, Morayshire, in June 2013, retrieving the body, and cleaning up the feathers after himself. After almost four years of waiting, court proceedings were dropped two weeks ago by the Crown Office, who indicated that after considering all of the relevant material, they couldn't use RSPB Scotland…

    • 5 May 2017
  • Skydancer from Russia with love

    The RSPB's Bowland Project Officer James Bray gives the lowdown on Bowland's special new visitor.

    RSPB staff and volunteers on the United Utilities estate in Bowland are out in the hills monitoring and protecting birds of prey every day of the week in all types of weather. We have been spending much of our time looking for returning hen harriers over the past few weeks in some rather un-spring-like weather so…

    • 27 Apr 2017
  • Guest Blog: Music on the Marr hen harrier t-shirt competition

    Richard Johnstone is the organiser of the Music on the Marr folk festival, which takes place in Cumbria each summer. Here he tells us why the hen harrier has been chosen as the symbol of this year's festival and how the artistic amongst you could see your very own hen harrier design emblazoned across the chests of  hundreds of this year's festival goers. 

    Each year in late July, the lovely North Cumbrian village…

    • 18 Apr 2017
  • A new season & hopes for the class of 2017

    It’s that time of year... hope and trepidation playing on my mind in equal measure. The breeding season just beginning, and with it, all the excitement and uncertainty of what lies ahead for our hen harriers. Often it feels as though little has changed from year to year, but our recent adventures in satellite tagging have given my reflections this year a new focus.

    For months now, our remaining satellite tagged…

    • 21 Mar 2017
  • Hen Harrier Hotline relaunched


    As spring has now almost sprung, we’ve relaunched our Hen Harrier Hotline with the hope of finding out where these seriously threatened birds of prey might be breeding in England’s moorland.


    If you are out hiking or cycling in the hills, please keep an eye out for one. If you are lucky enough to see a hen harrier, please get in touch. 


    The Harrier Hotline number is 0845 4600121 (calls charged at local…

    • 8 Mar 2017
  • Making bath bombs with Chris Packham

    Hen Harrier Life Project Community Engagement Officer Aimée Nicholson reports on recent the LUSH summit  

    Since joining the Hen Harrier Life Project back in October of last year, I have spent many a happy day telling people about the wonderful birds we are working so hard to protect. Last Thursday was no different but there was a slight twist to this event; this time it was live streamed across the internet for…

    • 17 Feb 2017