Wednesday, 12 August 2015


Miranda. Who is Miranda? Who was Miranda?

Miranda was a female Hen Harrier who had a magnificent journey. She was a special Hen Harrier -just like all Hen Harriers are special. She had an individual life story. She was an individual soul making her way in the world.

Miranda was born in Langholm, Scotland. She visited us here in Ireland, just as many Hen Harriers from Scotland have visited Ireland over the years. We know this because she was sat-tagged (see and we were lucky enough to be given the rare opportunity to follow the progress of a special, individual soul as she made her way in life. She travelled throughout much of Ireland, from Dublin to Mayo, from Donegal to Antrim and it was one of the most fascinating journeys that has been witnessed. All along the way, she opened up new insights to a young Hen Harrier's ecology. After some time, she was more Irish than Scottish, spending far longer in Ireland than she did in Scotland or indeed the Isle of Man where she also visited briefly. Then, radio silence.

Lissycasey 7. Who is Lissycasey 7? Who was Lissycasey 7?

This was a beautiful young Hen Harrier born near Lissycasey in West Clare in 2008. She was fitted with green and yellow colour wing tags. She was the first confirmed record of an Irish born Hen Harrier venturing all the way across the sea. She spent her entire first winter in Wales, on the beautiful Skomer Island (fox and mink free and full of fat skomer voles!). There she became a local celebrity and many of the public in Wales got to see and enjoy this stunning looking bird. After a good winter, Lissycasey E decided to return home to Ireland and could well have become part of the breeding population here. Very sadly, the elements conspired against her and she met a storm when crossing the Irish Sea. She was unable to keep up the fight travelling westerly against a raging winds, rain and high seas and the next time she was seen was on the tide line of the Welsh coast. Another light extinguished.

Ireland and Britain have for longer than anyone knows, been home to one connected population of Hen Harriers. Hen Harriers do not recognise boundaries. They are literally as free as a bird. We have a metapopulation. What happens to Greenland White-fronted Geese, Redwings and Whooper Swans in the north has direct implications for the birds we see arrive here each winter. What happens to Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Swallows in the south has direct implications for the birds we see arrive here each Summer. What happens to Hen Harriers in Britain has direct implications for Hen Harriers in Ireland - if they continue to be shot in Scotland or England, this lessens the chances of young birds coming to Ireland - perhaps even Irish birds travelling to Britain may be shot. What happens to Hen Harriers in Ireland has direct implications for Hen Harriers in Britain - if Hen Harriers reared in Scotland or England come to Ireland to make a life for themselves yet year after year their nest is predated or if they too are shot, this lessens the chances of the population stabilising in Britain or Ireland.

This may seem a bit "sciencey" but it is science and we are in the age of knowledge.

Know then that the spineless killing of Annie (see here) has more than a ripple of implications in Ireland and we stand fully in solidarity with those who love and watch and research and drive themselves into the ground in search of a future for this most superb of species. For anyone thinking that's a Scottish or English problem - it is not....

...Heather. Who is Heather? Who was Heather?

Lissycasey 7