Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sally Dies

 There are no words that can describe the loss of Sally, because she represented so much. She represented herself - a beautiful young Hen Harrier; she represented her species and she represented the hopes of bringing the Hen Harrier's ecology and conservation in Ireland to the general public.

After leaving her heather nest, Sally was in explorative mood, covering large tracts of her native County Kerry and making the Stack's Mountains her home for some time before returning to her nest site further east to find her parents and siblings had long since departed. She continued into County Cork, travelling through the Duhallow area and then into County Limerick, where she spent less than a week before succumbing to starvation. She lay at the edge of a Cladium fen in West Limerick, unable to go on any further, exhausted and greatly underweight, almost half the weight she was on 13 July. 

The first steps in life for any bird of prey are fraught with danger and learning how to find and catch your own food is a most difficult skill to master. However, satellite tracking here is highlighting the disadvantages that Hen Harriers in Ireland are faced with on top of all this. Sally was just 72 days old on the day that she died. Of 10 Hen Harriers that have been satellite tracked in Ireland now, 0 have yet made it to 100 days old. In Britain, 70% of many more sat tagged harriers have made it past 100 days. 

There are no other words that can really be said, even a week on since Sally's death. It is hoped that her early fall, along with so many other young harriers in Ireland will highlight the conservation issues facing the species in Ireland.

All hopes and fears now rest with Sally's younger sister Heather.

Sally's Journey


  1. As you are probably aware that similar problems occured with the Welsh red kites. Feeding stations seemed to be the answer. Is it possible to do something like that in Ireland.

    1. Unfortunately not Mike.

      The important thing to remember with Hen Harriers is that if they are suffering because of habitat loss or degradation and if they are lost because the habitat is no longer there...they will not be coming back.

  2. What dreadful news, I wonder if she was the bird I saw near Ashford not far from us in Co. Limerick a couple of weeks ago?

  3. Thanks Julie, could well be. Be sure to send in your sighting to harriers@ahg.gov.ie