|Male Hen Harrier by Luuk Belgers, Netherlands.|
Thank you for following the blog right throughout 2013 and I hope it has been as fascinating and enjoyable to learn about Hen Harriers this year as it has been for me. Undoubtedly the highlight of the year has been following Heather (from Kerry) and Miranda (from Scotland) on their epic journeys. If you are new to this site, please see previous posts to learn about these two amazing young female Hen Harriers who are blazing a trail and in the process providing so much information on Hen Harrier ecology and conservation, not to mention support for this rare species among the public.
Miranda's tag transmitted a short burst of data on 19 December, without location data but with data showing that she is alive and well. At the moment, Heather is in North Cork. She is carving out a new home range for herself, having somehow managed to find a roost with three other Hen Harriers. Heather has been seen at this roost in the company of the other birds by members of the Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey team. Just about everywhere Heather has spent time, she done so in the company of other Hen Harriers. It is likely that in a young Hen Harrier's first year, it is very important for a young bird to be able to learn from others, where the good hunting places are, where the safe resting places are and so on. Communal roosting is believed to offer the possibility of such 'information exchange'.
Friday morning provided a memorable roost watch at a site in East Kerry, where no fewer than 7 Hen Harriers arose from their roost together. Most interestingly, three birds (2 males and a female) perched on three consecutive fence posts, all 3 posted within 10m. There they stayed for 2 hours, perched, preening, stretching, looking at one another. One of the males left and went on his way hunting. The other male and the female stayed for another while and then left together - surely there had to be some communication/co-operation/relationship between these two birds. Fascinating and as ever with Hen Harriers, the more we see and learn, the more we want to see and learn.
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Happy Christmas! Nollaig Shona!