At-risk bird of prey raises chicks in Northumberland

The hen harrier, England's most endangered breeding bird of prey.
The hen harrier, England's most endangered breeding bird of prey.

The hen harrier, the most endangered breeding bird of prey in England, has successfully raised young in Northumberland.

Six chicks have fledged from two nests on land managed by the Forestry Commission, only the second time in 10 years that the birds have nested in the area.

The nests have been closely monitored. Cameras were installed by the RSPB and a team of raptor conservation volunteers, specialists from the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership and Forestry Commission wildlife experts worked together to watch the birds.

Four chicks fledged from the first nest, while on the second, two chicks fledged from a hatch of four.

The young birds have all now been checked and ringed by a Forestry Commission ornithologist. Two, one male and one female, at each nest were fitted with satellite tags supplied and fitted by the RSPB Hen Harrier LIFE Project and Natural England.

The tags will help monitor their progress and the public will be able to follow their movements at www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife
Andrew Miller, head of programmes and conservation at Northumberland National Park, and chairman of the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership, said: “It is great to have another two successful nests in Northumberland following last year’s success.

“However, it is still only a fraction of the number we’d expect to see in the county and the partnership will continue to work together to protect these beautiful birds in the hope that the numbers can grow over the coming years.”

The Northumberland Hen Harrier Partnership comprises Forestry Commission England, the RSPB, Natural England, Northumberland National Park Authority, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, The Ministry of Defence, Northumberland Police and a group of raptor experts. It aims to protect and safeguard the birds in the county.