Hen Harrier hotline – report your 2015 sightings

As spring gets underway, the RSPB is asking people who spend time in the English uplands to keep their eyes peeled for Hen Harriers, England’s most threatened birds of prey.

Hen Harrier
Northern England should have at least 320 pairs of breeding Hen Harriers but due to illegal persecution last year there were only four successful nests in the whole of England 

Now in its eighth year, the conservation charity has re-launched its Hen Harrier Hotline in the hope of discovering where these birds are potentially breeding.

The uplands of Northern England should have at least 320 pairs of breeding Hen Harriers but last year there were only four successful nests in the whole of England.

The main reason Hen Harriers have reached this crisis point is that the species suffers from ongoing illegal persecution.

Hen Harriers breed in remote upland locations so the RSPB relies on walkers and cyclists to inform them of their location. The conservation charity can then put measures in place to protect the nest.

Male Hen Harriers are an ash-grey colour with black wing tips and a wingspan of just less than a metre. They are sometimes known as “ghostbirds” because of the pale colour of their plumage.

Female Hen Harriers are slightly larger, owl-like in appearance, and have a mottled brown plumage, which camouflages them when they nest on the ground. They have obvious horizontal stripes on their tails, giving them the nickname “ringtail” and a patch of white just above, on the rump

The Hotline.

The Harrier Hotline number is 0845 4600121 (calls charged at local rate). Reports can also be e-mailed tohenharriers@rspb.org.uk. Reports of sightings should include the date and location of sighting, with a six-figure grid reference where possible. Observers should always be aware, without a licence it is illegal to disturb nesting sites.

3 comments to Hen Harrier hotline – report your 2015 sightings

  • Bob Winckle

    Female Hen Harrier in a paddock at Aldbourne Wiltshire West st road b419

  • Bob Winckle

    Hen Harrier female in a paddock at Aldbourne Wilts West street b419 road 23 feb 1030 am

  • Jim Gulliford

    16/10/2015 12:00 hrs – Have seen a Male Hen Harrier at Staple Plain/Bicknoler coombe area – 99.99% sure it was as it had 3 distinct white bars across the top of the rump and was wheeling and diving very close to the ground and in my mind could only have been one of 3 birds by its flight – a Red Kite – a Marsh Harrier or a Hen Harrier but taking the 3 white bars on its rump into account it could have only been a Hen Harrier – would this bird have been on a migratory route at this time of year ?