Sunday, 17 April 2016

Hen Harrier Diaries: Entry No. 4

Saturday saw 5 different sites covered.

It was more like a winter Roost watch at one of the sites as the hailstones and snow came falling down. The resident male and female rested up in the white blizzard and waited until it abated. To fly around and get unduly wet would hinder their flight. When the weather dried up, it became lovely and sunny, with blue skies above. The pair flew around together closely, touching wings and landed together. This is behaviour that suggests they will nest very close by.

However, things aren't always so straightforward! A second male visited the pair in their peaceful Valley and the three flew around together. Does the female have a decision to make?
It may well be that the second male was from a neighbouring territory where his own female has not been seen, we are getting anxious that this territory which has been watched from as far back as 1955 may be vacant/become extinct. However we still hold out and will continue observations there.
Elsewhere at another traditional site there has also been anxious moments during previous watches, the female from this pair also was nowhere to be seen, thankfully Saturday this all changed with both male and Female present, they collaborated to oust two Ravens out of their territory, with the Male sky dancing in a territorial display to show the Raven's who the boss was , the female relentlessly harassed the Ravens until eventually they had enough and left the Harriers territory, hopefully the pair can soon settle down concentrate on their breeding attempt.

Also checked on Saturday was a site that previously had four Harriers present, and it was great to have all four birds still present on Saturday. The two males have really raised their game, with one enthusiastic male soaring in fierce shower of hailstone in an attempt to impress of the female's, the other male also did his very best to impress the females, with his excellent hunting skills, hunting in heavy snow and hail, all this activity from the males appeared to impress the females with both of them checking out potential nesting sites, hopefully they will soon pair off.

 The fifth site checked Saturday didn't have a successful breeding attempt last year, but there are encouraging signs so far this year, with birds present on both occasions the site was checked, Saturday we had two males circling each other, checking each other out and saying hello, next time let's hope there is a female present and that she settles down with one of the males.

Stay tuned for further updates.
Thank you,
Hen Harrier Ireland


  1. I've been lucky enough to watch two hen harriers today in Leitrim. We saw a male at lunch time, he landed in a field not far from us and shortly afterwards we saw a female off in the distance. This evening we saw a female soaring high for a good 5mins or so before flying away, we were so taken with watching her that of course we could have missed seeing a male.

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