Bucking the hen harrier trend with 10 young

Some of the hen harrier fledlgings.
Some of the hen harrier fledlgings.

The Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership has announced that five pairs of hen harriers tried to nest in the county, fledging 10 young.

After another very poor season for hen harriers elsewhere in England, with no successful breeding attempts, the Northumberland population is once again bucking the trend.

In 2015, eight young from two nests successfully fledged and, last year, six young fledged from two nests. This year, three of the five nests were ultimately successful and produced the 10 young.

This spring saw an increase in activity with even more birds performing their spectacular courtship displays known as sky dancing and five pairs eventually nesting, four of them once again on land managed by the Forestry Commission.

A dedicated team of raptor conservation volunteers together with specialists from the partnership worked together to watch over all of the nests.

The partnership is also delighted to learn that a young hen harrier named Finn that fledged in Northumberland in 2016 is successfully raising her own chick in south-west Scotland. Finn was fitted with a satellite tracker before leaving her nest in Northumberland last year and has been closely monitored ever since.

Andrew Miller, head of programmes and conservation at Northumberland National Park and chairman of the hen harrier partnership, said: “Hen harriers are still facing an uphill battle to re-establish themselves in the uplands of England. However, with the positive support of all our partners including key landowners, 10 young birds have successfully fledged.

“We will continue to monitor our birds throughout the year and hope that this year’s youngsters will stay safe and be as successful as Finn.”

Mike Pratt, chief executive of Northumberland Wildlife Trust, added: “What a fantastic thing to have the potential to see so many hen harriers in Northumberland for once. The news that several pairs of hen harriers nested and bred successfully, raising 10 young, in the uplands of Northumberland is very encouraging and speaks loudly of the partnership between conservationists locally in protecting the birds, and ensuring that the right conditions exist for them to thrive.”