Saturday, 30 November 2013

December watches for Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey - Miranda and Heather holding fort

December - the depths of winter and only 8 hours of light will be available to our Hen Harriers - this will be a testing month - please report any sightings to and for those who participate in roost watches or in searches for new roosts - please ensure to watch your local site(s) this month - this is vital.

Heather and Miranda are conducting business as usual in Cork and Mayo.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Heather ranging across South Cork, Miranda holds on in Mayo, Slieve Blooms wing tagged bird near home!

Cork and Mayo are missing Liam and Sam, but they have gained Heather and Miranda!

Heather is now ranging a 30km area on the south coast of Cork, making use of the productive tillage landscape of cereals and root crops, hedgerows and scrub patches, all great for providing rodents and passerines.

Miranda is in a very different, rugged landscape in the north-west of Mayo, foraging over blanket bog. She has discovered a new roost location for us once again, but is less than 20km from a known traditional roost so she may yet meet up with the locals! During the week, Ranger with National Parks & Wildlife Service Cameron Clotworthy caught up with Miranda while conducting a roost watch for the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey This is the third time that Miranda has been seen in the flesh in Ireland and shows the great network that is the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey. See photo of Miranda below!

Also, one of the young birds that was wing-tagged in the Slieve Blooms earlier this summer was seen on the Laois/Offaly border near Portarlington  - some birds like Heather and Miranda range far, while others like to keep it local!
Miranda at roost in NW Mayo. Photo (c) Cameron Clotworthy, NPWS

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Miranda's massive movements - to Mayo!

Miranda is now in Mayo! She has clocked up some massive miles since moving to Ireland from Scotland via the Isle of Man. Will she settle in Mayo or continue to move on? At this stage she has clocked up thousands of kilometres since coming to Ireland. Awesome!

Heather uses 3 roost sites and gives vital data ranging from roosts and habitat use

Heather's ranging in South Cork
Since Heather arrived in South Cork, following her epic journey around the country, she has roosted in at least 3 locations. To show how well informed the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey is, all of these roosts were already known and are being watched by volunteers. Through Heather's satellite tracker, we know where she frequents and this is important in terms of establishing habitat use and ranging distance from her roost.

Meanwhile, Miranda continues to put the heart crossways on us! From last Monday until Saturday, her tag did not transmit data and various thoughts were running through our heads as to what might have happened to her. Fortunately, after ground searches for her on Saturday in Donegal, her tag transmitted data, but only for a short while. It is thought that she is still alive, though we would welcome more data to come in. Again the impressive nature of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey was in evidence, given there is a known roost in the area she would have settled in on Saturday.

From Donegal to Cork, the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey has built a clear picture of the non-breeding ecology and conservation of Hen Harriers in Ireland. Contribute to this survey by contacting today!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Miranda back on track, Heather still in Cork. Both birds seen in the flesh on IHHWS

Miranda's movements since leaving her native Scotland
 Heather the juvenile female from Kerry has been happy to stay in the tillage fields of South Cork since early September, after an initial dispersal period that took her to the north-east of Ireland and back. She can switch between two roost sites, settling in the scrub vegetation that is so important as a habitat to much of Ireland's wildlife. Heather has been seen fairly regularly by surveyors on the Irish Hen Harrier Survey, which runs from August to March every year.

Another bird who has recently visited the north-east of Ireland is Miranda, the young female born in Scotland during the summer. Miranda came to Ireland via the Isle of Man, visited the midlands and then Donegal, before heading an a trek across the north of Ireland to Anrtim. There, she went "off line" with her transmitter failing to communicate her location or whether she was dead or alive. Happily, Miranda showed up again in Derry, roosting in some dune habitat and has since returned to Donegal and was reported doing well by one of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey volunteers yesterday morning as she left her reedbed roost.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey continues - Heather seen at her roost

The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey is now in its ninth year. Please contact with any sightings or information on Hen Harriers that you may have at this time of year.

Last weekend, a number of roosts throughout the country were watched by participants of the survey and vital data was collected on the numbers and types (male/female) of Hen Harriers coming into roost. When all this data is collated with data from previous years, trends can be determined as to how the local and national Hen Harrier population is doing.

Our star of the show, Heather, was seen at her roost over the weekend. She had a small bit of a tussel with a Common Buzzard (a bigger, stronger bird) before she went to roost with a couple of her cohorts.

For those who have yet to watch their local roost for November, there is still time and please get out to contribute directly to this rare bird's conservation.

For anyone with sightings of Hen Harriers, do not have them just sitting in a note book - email your news to

Beir Bua!