Hen harrier sightings hotline launched

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A SPECIAL hotline has opened to encourage people who live or spend time in the English uplands to report sightings of England’s rarest breeding bird of prey, the hen harrier.

The Hen Harrier Hotline is being relaunched by the RSPB in the hope of discovering more about where these birds are potentially breeding in the north.

The hen harrier is one of the most awe-inspiring birds of prey with the male performing a magnificent aerobatic courtship display in spring known as skydancing, and providing food to the female in spectacular mid-air food passes.

Sadly, the species is also affected by illegal persecution, a fact reinforced by the government-commissioned review – the hen harrier framework – which concluded that illegal killing and disturbance is the biggest single factor limiting the population of this species in northern England.

It is estimated that the heather moors of England have the potential to hold at least 320 pairs of nesting hen harriers, but in 2011 there were only four successful nests.

The Harrier Hotline number is 0845 4600121 (calls charged at local rate). Reports can also be emailed to henharriers@rspb.org.uk

Reports of sightings should include the date and location of sighting, with a six-figure grid reference where possible.