Record number of Hen Harriers move south through Falsterbo in Sweden.

Yesterday was undoubtedly one of the finest days for migrating hen harriers at Falsterbo. In total 101 harriers were recorded as moving through Falsterbo yesterday, making a grand total of  301 passage harriers passing through since 1st August.

Once again these figures indicate a very good breeding season in the northern breeding range of this species but also may mean more birds ultimately coming  to Britain following in the footsteps of a number of Pallid Harriers did when they visited our shores recently. Two hen harriers recently observed on the eastern coast of England may be passage birds from the continent also. It is expected that a majority of hen harriers arriving here from the continent will over-winter in counties like Lincolnshire,Norfolk and Kent. We must pray that non of these birds end up on the uplands of northern Britain where most are likely to be removed to preserve the biodiversity of our countryside.

The ringing season at Flommen ended on 30 September. The grand total, 3 816 birds of 43 species, is well below the long-term average (1980-2009) of 4 258 birds. However, for the 2000s it is the third highest count on record.

Contrast these figures with the situation this autumn at Langholm where already it is being reported that 3 of the 10 hen harriers reared this summer, each individually fitted with satellite telemetry costing £30,000 have so far disappeared off the radar.  These figures represent a 30% loss in fledged birds and a waste so far of £9,000 in tax payer’s money spend on the telemetry equipment which is now also missing, presumably down a rabbit hole along with the missing hen harriers. Significantly, if reports are correct, one on the three fledglings was last recorded on the infamous Croglin estate located next door to the RSPB’s Nature Reserve at Geltsdale in the Northern Pennines; no surprises there then.

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 Hen Harriers last attempted to breed in this region in 2006, the nesting pair of Eagle Owls disappeared

 within weeks of their discovery by Croglin keepers. Pure coincidence of course.


4 comments to Record number of Hen Harriers move south through Falsterbo in Sweden.

  • harrier man

    Add to these figures the minimum of four to six birds with satellite transmitters lost during 2009-2010 on English grouse moors. Also how many more were lost during the ten years of Natural England’s hen harrier Recovery Project fitted with radio and further satellite transmitters most if not all on grouse moors? And as mentioned within the article how many continental birds with Scottish and IOM birds are lost on the English grouse moors. Overall a serious loss of mostly juveniles which will not enter the breeding population its no wonder the species is declining across north western Europe.

  • Just out of interest then, I’m assuming in order for these birds to fall off the radar the transmitter has to stop working either by technical fault or by human hands. I am also assuming that if said harrier is killed then the transmitter must be smashed so said bird/rabbit hole can’t be located?

    Or are there any thoughts in having a transmitter that has X amount of days battery life which sends out a stress signal if it stops moving for an extended period?

    • Admin

      There have been a number of instances in Scotland where large raptors fitted with satellite transmitters have been found poisoned. After death because the signal showed no movement the dead bird(s) were traced by following the signal. We are sure the corpse of an osprey fitted with the satellite transmitter in Scotland was found several months after fledging dead in a hut in the desert in northern Africa. The story was published on the Raptor Politics web site. It seem scientists in the UK managed to pin-point the signal to a remote hunter’s hut in the desert and alerted colleagues in Africa who then recovered the transmitter and what was left of the dead osprey.

      The most likely scenario as to why no hen harriers fitted with a transmitter are ever located having gone off the radar is that most likely having been shot the transmitter is removed and destroyed. Someone posted a comment on Raptor Politics not too long ago advising readers to look on e-bay for anyone daft enough to try and sell these units.

      There is an interesting but unsubstantiated tale we have heard about. It goes like this; it seems that one transmitter fitted to a harrier which had been shot was removed in-tact and then fitted to a pigeon which was then released. Makes an interesting story but whether or not the story has any basis of fact we will never know. Certainly who ever did shoot the harrier will not come forward and certainly Natural England are saying nothing.

  • Now you mention it I do remember the African hut story. Maybe I am not giving the people who carry out these crimes credit, when they pull the trigger they don’t just leave it at that out in the wilds but they destroy the trail.

    Out of the above Harriers what are the chances that the 3 transmitters now undetectable have just technically failed, has the company who makes them made a comment?