Blog Post: Hen harrier class of 2018

During the summer of 2018, the Hen Harrier EU LIFE Project tagged an unprecedented amount of hen harrier chicks across the UK. The team hiked over bogs, moorland and mountains, often during heatwave conditions, to locate the nests, and used their expertise to fit lightweight tags to each feathery bundle. Hen harriers are one of the UK’s most persecuted raptors, and the breeding population in England is dangerously low with just nine successful nests recorded this summer. Fitting tags helps us learn more about the risks they face. We’re now crossing our fingers as we watch these young birds go out into the world. We have added 12 of these to our project website, so you can follow their fortunes too. This year we incorporated a couple of themes into the naming process. Some have been named after gods and goddesses, others pay homage to notable people, while some celebrate their national language and landscape. 1. Thoth (M) Male chick tagged in the Scottish borders, named after the Egyptian god with the head of an ibis. Tag sponsored by Lothian and Borders Raptor Study Group. Thoth the male hen harrier 2. Hilma (F) Female chick tagged in the Scottish borders. Tag sponsored by Lothian and Borders Raptor Study Group. 3. Vulcan (M) Male chick tagged in Northumberland, on a nest of five chicks. His dad is colour ringed and was ringed at Langholme. He’s a favourite of our project team member Jack, and named after the Roman god of fire. Vulcan the hen harrier 4. Rain (F) She was tagged at Bowland from a nest of five chicks. She’s one of the first chicks we’ve had successfully raised in Bowland since 2015. 5. Nyx (M) He was tagged at Bowland from a nest of five chicks and is one of the 13 birds to successfully fledge at Bowland this year. He is named after Nyx, the shape-shifting water spirit. 6. Thor (M) One of a brood four, and the first of our chicks to be tagged this year. Named after the famous god of thunder, he was tagged on a nest at Bowland in collaboration with United Utilities estates. 7. Doona (F) Female chick tagged on Isle of Man, named by Dhoon School. Her name means ‘dark maiden’. 8. Heulwen (F) Female chick tagged in north Wales. Her name means ‘sunny’ in Welsh. 9. Octavia (F) Female chick tagged in the Peak District from the first successful nest in the Peak District since 2014. She is named after Octavia Hill, one of the three founders of the National Trust. Octavia the hen harrier 10. Arthur (M) Male chick tagged in the Peak District. He is named after Arthur Hobhouse, who set out the philosophy behind our system of National Parks of England and Wales. Hobhouse argued that everyone should have access to fresh air and beautiful places. 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. This harrier will be monitored alongside raptor works and National Trust in the Peaks. 11. Keen (F) Female bird tagged in Perthshire from a nest of three chicks. The is the third bird to be tagged at an area of woodland managed sustainably by the community for the benefit of everyone, after DeeCee in 2016 and Heather in 2017. 12. Marcie (F) This is the third bird to be tagged at Mar Lodge, one of several chicks born there in 2018. Harriet and Calluna were also tagged there in 2016 and 2017 respectively. However, since tagging these birds, three have already gone missing in suspicious circumstances. Jenny Shelton, RSPB Investigations, explains more in this video: (Please visit the site to view this video)