A round-the-clock nest protection operation is once again ready to swing into action with the RSPB asking people who spend time in the uplands of northern England to keep their eyes peeled for hen harriers – England’s most threatened bird of prey.
Now in its eighth year, the Hen Harrier Hotline has been relaunched by the conservation charity with the aim of discovering where these rare birds of prey may be nesting.
Research has shown that the English uplands have enough suitable habitats to give a home to at least 320 pairs of breeding hen harriers, but last year there were only four successful nests in the whole country. Hen harriers breed in remote upland locations so the RSPB relies on walkers and cyclists to inform them of their location. The conservation charity can then put measures in place to protect the nest from harm.
Martin Harper, RSPB’s Director of Conservation, said: “Sadly hen harriers are a much rarer sight in the northern uplands than they should be, one reason being illegal persecution. But if you are lucky enough to see one, it’s an experience that will live with you forever. The male’s courting ritual is a particular stunning spectacle; a series of breathtaking swoops and somersaults that earns it the name skydancer.”