Hen harriers are now one of Britain’s rarest birds of prey, but still with a relative stronghold on Scotland’s heaths and bogs. Illegal persecution, land use changes resulting in loss of nesting habitat and feeding range, and predation of eggs and young by foxes, crows and other predators have all contributed to the hen harrier’s current situation.
By working with estates to install nest cameras, the Heads Up for Harriers project is gathering evidence of the impact that these different factors on the survival of young birds, with a view to building a better understanding of why nests fail. We can use this information to direct resources, where appropriate, to improve the conservation status of hen harriers in Scotland.
The project encourages reporting of sightings by the public throughout the year, not only to monitor breeding populations and help direct fieldwork but also to help locate winter roosts. Birds can be particularly vulnerable in the winter but roost locations and numbers are currently not well known. Sightings information is managed by SNH, not shared within the Heads Up for Harriers Group and passed only to the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme and RSPB for mapping purposes. Where there is a suspicion of criminality this information will also be shared with Police Scotland and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
How to get involved
The Heads Up for Harriers Project has a dedicated sightings hotline number and e-mail address. E-mail sightings to HenHarrier@snh.gov.uk or call 07767 671973. Please provide details of places where birds are seen (a six-figure grid reference is best), the time and date of sighting and any notes on behaviour (for example hunting low, flying high up, calling/chittering or skydancing) when possible. More information is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/paw-scotland/what-you-can-do/hen-harriers