Hen Harriers doing well and starring on TV!

I am sorry for the lack of news items recently - it has been an extraorinarily busy season with field work this year including bird surveys across huge areas of upland and, as usual, the monitoring activity I undertake annually where I focus mainly on Hen Harrier and Merlins. Unfortunately Merlins are struggling, for reasons we don't fully understand but it appears that Hen Harriers are actually doing well and in the area I cover they have fledged a record number of young. Comparing this with the grim stories we hear from other parts of the UK this is particularly encouraging and we fortunately have forward-thinking landowners who recognise the importance of this species both nationally and internationally.

There is a very interesting story about this particular brood where a Carrion Crow opportunistically dropped into the nest when an incubating female Hen Harrier was taking a break from incubating. She was entirely unaware of the avian intruder and I was 400m away so there was no choice but to stand up and yell as loudly as I could. I am delighted to say this had the desired effect, the crow shooting up into the air in panic with no chance to do any damage. Five minutes later, the female returned to the nest which had three eggs and went on to lay a fourth - all of which hatched. Here they were just over three weeks old and now they have fledged.

Much of my time has been spent working my way up and down hills through blanket bog and deep heather. I remind myself that people pay good money to go to gyms and I am getting much of that exercise for free.

Such is our need for good news stories that both BBC and ITV have filmed monitoring visits which I was happy to help with. The ITV programme, Coast and Country went out on 15th July on ITV Wales but you can catch it here:

The feature on Hen Harriers is around 16 minutes in to the programme if you want to forward.

The BBC programme is featuring my old friend Iolo Williams and it will be part of a series about wildlife in the Marches, due to go out next year. I will let you know when I know.

Due to the continuation of field work the timing of this year's Global Bird Fair clashed so we are sorry we may have missed catching up with friends this time but look forward to seeing everyone again soon. If you went, we hope you had a great time and it has certainly been good to see the return of so many aspects of life.