Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Local School Children Suggest Hen Harrier Names

Loads of entries came in for naming Hen Harrier chicks and it was a really difficult decision to make in choosing the best and most suitable. Finally, the names were chosen as follows:

Heather (after the Hen Harrier's natural habitat)

Diarmuid (after a Celtic legend who has links with many parts of Ireland, including a place on the Duhallow/Muskerry border named after Diarmuid where Hen Harriers previously bred)

Blackwater (after the most beautiful River Blackwater that flows through Duhallow and has Hen Harriers along its flow)

Sky (after the most spectacular feature of the Hen Harrier - the Sky Dance!)

Well done to all who suggested these names. Stay tuned! ;-)

Hen Harrier - Nature's Work of Art

Hen Harriers are among the most elegant, skillful and inspiring sights one could ever hope to see. Elegance, Skill and Inspiration are all values that are needed for good art. The best entries of the art that was received from primary schools in the Duhallow and Muskerry regions can be seen in the video below. All entries can be seen in the "Education" page of this website.

The Arrivals (2). The chicks are in the nests! We're getting close!

Nest 1
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.

Nest 2
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.

Nest 3
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.