Over 6 Pallid Harriers are reported to have summered in Sweden this year making this season one of the best for this species on record. Hybrid pairs have been found as far south as Denmark but with so many birds now arriving each summer it is felt that pure breeding between these birds will take place soon if it has not already! With so many juvenile birds found in the UK last winter it may be the source for these Swedish birds.
The true number of harriers which ended up down rabbit holes will never be known
But with so many harrier species being killed on UK shooting estates it would be very unlikely that Pallid Harriers would ever be allowed to breed successfully on mainland UK. The last attempt on Orkney in 1995 was a hybrid pair, a combination of Hen and Pallid, but disappointingly the eggs which were laid went missing. A second summer male Pallid Harrier mated with a female Hen harrier producing a clutch of 5 small eggs more like Pallid eggs. At first these eggs were thought to be have been predated by crows but no egg chips were found in the nest scrape, therefore it was considered more likely collectors may well have been involved.
Regarded as a rare bird throughout its world range [IUCN Red List near threatened] the potential for Pallid Harriers being killed in the UK, particularly on Red Grouse moors, are increasing all the time. What if these Swedish birds decide to winter here? We can only hope that any that fly through Europe decide not come across the North Sea, because should they do so the most likely consequence would certainly result in their disappearance on these moors. As seen from what has happened to the Hen Harrier, any Pallid Harrier that did find a way onto our uplands would have little or no protection, and because of this fact any bird that had the misfortune to arrive would be destined to follow the Hen Harrier down the rabbit hole.