Thursday, 30 October 2014

Heather has her very own island! Halloween Winter Roost Weekend!


The South Kerry island that Heather has made home
 Heather, the intrepid young female Hen Harrier is still in the Kingdom of Kerry and surely fit for the Queen of the Kingdom is her very own island! The above island has been home for Heather for the past while. It probably makes good sense too - especially from a safety point of view - no predators or disturbance.

Continue to follow Heather and other Hen Harrier news on this blog and on www.facebook.com/henharrierireland and on Twitter @HarrierIreland

This weekend sees the annual Halloween Hen Harrier Roost Watch. It is a real experience to be at a reedbed or bog on Halloween, with a half moon overhead as you finish your watch. Friday and Saturday currently look to be the best bets weather-wise. For details contact harriers@ahg.gov.ie

Winter Roost Scene

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Heather is a Kerry girl at heart!

Heather is a Kerry girl at heart!

Heather has now returned to Kerry after another stay at her 'home range' in Cork. She has been deciding between the two counties for some time now, switching from Cork to Kerry, Kerry to Cork and so on. This is very interesting behaviour, which would not be known only for Heather and her satellite tag. These movements are not insignificant either - Heather's latest move from South Cork to South Kerry is 150km in a straight line and surely lots of ground travelled and encounters along the way for Heather. Why has Heather made this move?? For now, see Heather's latest movements and an excellent photo of her latest view - of the Skelligs (Skelligs image copyright Eoin Kavanagh).

Skelligs (c) Eoin Kavanagh - Heather's current view

Heather's most recent movements, now in South Kerry

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Notes from the first week of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey 2014-15

Volunteers throughout the country from Cork to Donegal, Galway to Wicklow, have been out looking for Hen Harriers for the first week of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey. This is the tenth year of the survey and it is important that as much coverage as possible is achieved so that the Hen Harrier population and range over the past decade can be fully reviewed.

If you see a Hen Harrier - please report it to harriers@ahg.gov.ie

If you want to do roost watches, contact harriers@ahg.gov.ie

So far, the first week has seen harrier sightings reported across the country and a number of roost watches completed, including last night in Cork, when Heather, the satellite tracked female from Kerry, was seen at roost with a friend. She has returned to her favoured spot by the coast, where she spent last winter and again this autumn until she moved to Kerry for a couple of weeks - no doubt to celebrate Kerry's success in the All-Ireland!!

Also, we are close to finding a new roost in County Louth. Finding roosts is especially important for the direct conservation of Hen Harriers.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Hen Harrier Ireland on Blogspot - Facebook - Twitter


The tenth season of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey promises to be the most important to date.

Follow onsite live updates from roost watches and even contribute your own updates from your roost watches (be sure to mask the location of the roost site).


Hen Harrier Ireland can be followed on Twitter, Facebook and Blospot

Twitter                               @HarrierIreland
Facebook                           www.facebook.com/henharrireland
Blogspot                             www.henharrierireland.blogspot.ie

For sightings and participation on the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey, email harriers@ahg.gov.ie

Monday, 1 September 2014

Eadoin - a harrier is named. News from Slieve Blooms bird in Antrim. Heather in South Cork.


Eadoin - young male Hen Harrier from the Slieve Blooms, born 2014

Clara Bog Visitor Centre recently held a poll to name one of the young Hen Harriers wing tagged in the Slieve Blooms. The letter on his tag is 'E' and he has received the beautiful Gaelic name of Eadoin, meaning 'blessed among many friends"....no doubt the friends of Hen Harriers throughout Ireland wish Eadoin and the other young harriers born this summer the very best in life. Let's hope we hear positive things from him again.

We have just received news that another young bird, this time a female, from the Slieve Blooms is currently in Antrim! This bird was born in 2013 and it is great to hear of her whereabouts. Antrim seems to be a very important place for Hen Harriers in Ireland - remember both Heather and Miranda have spent time there and so too have other tagged birds. It is of course on a flight path between Ireland and Scotland and it is likely there is interchange between the two sets of populations there. Exciting stuff to hear from another tagged bird!

As for our star Heather - well as predicted (and that is a big ask with harriers!) she has travelled further south to rest by the Atlantic cliffs of South Cork. She spent this time last year in the very same spot until the stubble fields were sprayed and ploughed. Check out the video by Dave McGrath on www.facebook.com/henharrierireland for a piece of video of what is believed to be Heather! You can see why she is there - plenty of tillage and straw - good habitat for finding rodents to eat!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Heater leaves Mayo and returns to Cork! The seasons are changing and birds are moving to normal time roosts - IHHWS



 Heather has once again made a massive move - this time in a reversal of what she did at the start of summer when she moved from Cork to Mayo. Ironically the last post on HenHarrierIreland (see below) posed the question would Heather (a Kerry born bird) move from Mayo at the time of Kerry and Mayo's All-Ireland Football semi-final clash - she has done just that!

She knows Ireland very well at this stage, having visited so many counties from South to North and East to West. Her movements have been a revalation and have given us a remarkable insight to the life of a young Hen Harrier. She has returned to familiar grounds, where she spent the latter half of last winter, from December to March before embarking on her epic journey to Mayo.

At this time of year, Hen Harriers are moving to their "winter" grounds, more appropriately known as normal time grounds, given they spend the majority of the year there (typically Aug-Mar). The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey has discovered so much about the ecology of Hen Harriers during this time and is now entering its 10th season - if you would like to take part email harriers@@ahg.gov.ie

The question on everyone's lips now is - will Heather stay where she is at present or will she continue further south to the coast where she spent the early half of last winter, making use of the stubble fields and hedgerows of South Cork. Will she even go somewhere else entirely?

Let us know what you think!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Heather 'at home' in Mayo! Miranda seen in Antrim. New tagged birds in Blooms.



Juvenile Hen Harriers in the Slieve Blooms tagged 'E' and 'Z' - keep an eye out for these and others this autumn/winter!
Photos: Jason Monaghan, NPWS

Heather is still in one of her favourite spots of all time - Mayo. Will the love affair with Mayo for this Kerry girl last beyond Kerry and Mayo's All-Ireland semi final clash on the 24th of this month! Mayo has been good to her all summer and it will be interesting to see if she moves on again with an impending change in seasons or stays on familiar turf.

Miranda from Scotland of course also spent a long period of time in Mayo last winter before moving to Antrim. For over a week, researchers were worried as to the wherabouts of Miranda, but thankfully she was seen in searches during the week, looking very well.

Neither Miranda nor Heather bred this year. All going well they should make it through their second winter and hopefully breed in 2015.

Young birds born and reared in 2014 are currently fledging the nest and hanging around with their siblings, finding out all about flight, playfully diving and calling at one another and trying to catch some prey themselves - a vital skill to master if they are to survive beyond the care of their parents who at the moment are still providing the bulk of the food. Some of these young birds have been wing tagged in the Slieve Blooms - sky blue on left wing for 2014 and white on right wing for Slieve Blooms. Keep an eye out for these youngsters - just like Heather and Miranda they too will hopefully have great experiences and adventures ahead of them as they make their way in life!