The mother leaves the nest to hunt for more food for the three chicks. © Barry O'Donoghue
This nest, set in heather, grass and gorse is quite amazing, even by the high standards set by Hen Harriers as to what is amazing!
From a hide just 30m away, I could see all the action in the nest, the three chicks gaining their feathers, the father and mother bringing in prey and brooding the young in times of mist or rain...it really is a sublime privilege to watch Hen Harriers. It is enthrawling to watch the siblings walk about, stretch their wings, have the odd brother-sister tiff and even have a tug-o-war with the food brought in by their parents! Please God they will all remain safe from predators, given their parents have to travel long distances over mature forestry before they reach suitable hunting grounds, thereby increasing the time during which the chicks are left on their own.
|Two chicks only 2-3 days old and another chick is hatching from the egg to the right. © Barry O'Donoghue|
There is also another egg in the nest. Hopefully all four will make it. They are much later than normal in their breeding attempt, perhaps as a result of the abnormal weather this Spring/Summer. The parents at this nest are really good providers so we have good hope.
|The father is bringing in food to the nest. © Barry O'Donoghue|
This guy is a super provider, the high rate at which he brings in food is a reflection of the fact that he has profitable hunting habitats (Willow bushes, Rough Grassland, Heather Bog, Hedgerows) in proximity to his nest.