Ring Ousel and Redstart

Very light but cool wind. Overcast till mid afternoon, then some sunshine.Middleton Nature Reserve Ringing report from Alan:Another unseasonal cold start at Middleton this morning.Nets set on both east and west sides from 06.00.Willow Warbler…

Blog Post: 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 and young hen harriers are speckled brown and cream with horizontal stripes on their tails. The most striking feature is the patch of white at their rump. Males are slightly smaller and pale grey with black wingtips. Both have a round, owl-like face. As the weather warms up, these birds are becoming more visible as they make their long journeys away from their winter roosting grounds and up to the moors to breed. Hen harriers nest on the ground amongst heather or soft rush in the uplands, in places like the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland. You maybe even lucky enough to encounter their skydancing display, a dizzying aerial show of rolls and dives, performed by either the male and female to mark their territory and demonstrate their vigour. Hen harriers are the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey and on the brink of extinction as breeding bird in England. There were only 19 successful nests in England in 2020, though there is food and habitat to support over 300 hen harrier pairs. A male hen harrier, credit Jack Ashton-Booth The RSPB’s Jack Ashton-Booth said : “We are calling on the Great British public to email our Hen Harrier Hotline if they believe they’ve seen a hen harrier. This helps us build a picture of where these birds are. Please contact us if you see them in England, Wales or Scotland. We welcome any sightings and appreciate your time. “Hen harriers are beautiful and elusive raptors and, unlike peregrines and kestrels, they are rarely seen in urban environments. So if it’s perched on your fence, it’s probably a sparrowhawk, if it’s in a tree by the roadside, it’s probably a kestrel or a buzzard… but if it’s over rough pasture or moorland, and matches the description above, then you might have seen a hen harrier. “Sadly hen harriers are a long way from reaching a healthy, self-sustaining population, and this is largely down to persecution by humans. Particularly where land is managed for the purpose of driven grouse shooting, natural predators like hen harriers can be viewed as pests and, despite being legally protected, the shooting, trapping and poisoning of hen harriers is a serious and ongoing problem.” If you think you’ve seen a hen harrier, please email: henharriers@rspb.org.uk Please include the date, time, location/grid reference and a description of the bird.

If it wasn’t for small green birds……

 ……Alice and I would have had an even more miserable ringing session than we did on Saturday morning at our Hodder Valley ringing site! It was cold again, minus 4 Celsius in fact, to start, with clear skies and a light northerly breeze. T…

Plenty of warblers in the sunshine

Another sunny day with light wind, initially from south, but quickly moved round to west.First, some records from yesterday from Pete:Red-Throated Diver 4 over the sea on the incoming tideEider 192Common Scoter 2Turnstone 356 on wooden jetty high water…

Not much, so far

Another overnight frost. Cold breeze but sunshine for most of the day.This is the history of the third colour ringed Oystercatcher seen by Richard yesterdayI didn’t manage to get out till the evening, just as I got on to the skear (this is the traditio…

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April Chats And The Blue Nailed Hawker.

Searching through my records of April Stonechats since 2006. I found little has changed over 15 years, although 10 Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite 10 April 2006, 9 on Harrisend 5 April 2007, and 8 on Clougha/Birk Bank 21…

Barely Double Figures

I completed the final wintering bird survey at my site in northwest Lancs with a bit of freshwater marsh yesterday, and just for a change (note the sarcasm), the wind was from the north, well, northwest to be precise. And following the pattern of this …

Some interesting ring records today

Overnight frost. Very light northerly winds, the sun shone throughout the day, but it clouded over in the evening.Middleton Nature Reserve John and Alan braved the frost for an early ringing session – report from Alan:The temperature was around mi…