Counting hen harriers

Flanders Moss NNR

During the winter months Flanders Moss becomes one of the homes for the hen harrier. Spending the summer on the higher ground they move onto the lowlands as the weather gets worse.

The hen harrier is a ground nesting bird, and even though you may be thinking to yourself it would be rather wet and uncomfortable for a night’s kip and that other reserves with a much more cosy feel than the bog would be a better option,  you’d be wrong.

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On top of the tussocks it can make itself a bed for the night surrounded by open bog pools. It chooses this type of location to make it harder for other predators, although larger animals are not the main threat to this raptor! Unfortunately this raptor is intensively persecuted by humans and due to numbers declining it has became a protected species under the 1954 Protection Bird Act 1.

Ringtail

Just like the goose counts we do at Loch Lomond, the hen harrier has its own survey, once a month between September and March and many organizations are involved in helping collected data.

Carrying out survey work is vital, the information gathered gives an indication on how well this raptor is getting on with life and how many birds are surviving. In the 19th Century this raptor actually became extinct in mainland Britain and, though since then it recovered, it is now a declining species, due mainly to illegal killing.

Counts are made of birds coming in to roost on Flanders overnight by staff and volunteers (Amber, David & Nicola).  It can be a cold and wet hour and a half but the bonus is the beautiful landscape and spectacular sunsets. The last roost count means another winter has came to an end – but here’s to a great summer on Flanders Moss.

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