She knows Ireland very well at this stage, having visited so many counties from South to North and East to West. Her movements have been a revalation and have given us a remarkable insight to the life of a young Hen Harrier. She has returned to familiar grounds, where she spent the latter half of last winter, from December to March before embarking on her epic journey to Mayo.
At this time of year, Hen Harriers are moving to their "winter" grounds, more appropriately known as normal time grounds, given they spend the majority of the year there (typically Aug-Mar). The Irish Hen Harrier Winter Survey has discovered so much about the ecology of Hen Harriers during this time and is now entering its 10th season - if you would like to take part email harriers@@ahg.gov.ie
The question on everyone's lips now is - will Heather stay where she is at present or will she continue further south to the coast where she spent the early half of last winter, making use of the stubble fields and hedgerows of South Cork. Will she even go somewhere else entirely?
Let us know what you think!
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Monday, 4 August 2014
|Juvenile Hen Harriers in the Slieve Blooms tagged 'E' and 'Z' - keep an eye out for these and others this autumn/winter!|
Photos: Jason Monaghan, NPWS
Heather is still in one of her favourite spots of all time - Mayo. Will the love affair with Mayo for this Kerry girl last beyond Kerry and Mayo's All-Ireland semi final clash on the 24th of this month! Mayo has been good to her all summer and it will be interesting to see if she moves on again with an impending change in seasons or stays on familiar turf.
Miranda from Scotland of course also spent a long period of time in Mayo last winter before moving to Antrim. For over a week, researchers were worried as to the wherabouts of Miranda, but thankfully she was seen in searches during the week, looking very well.
Neither Miranda nor Heather bred this year. All going well they should make it through their second winter and hopefully breed in 2015.
Young birds born and reared in 2014 are currently fledging the nest and hanging around with their siblings, finding out all about flight, playfully diving and calling at one another and trying to catch some prey themselves - a vital skill to master if they are to survive beyond the care of their parents who at the moment are still providing the bulk of the food. Some of these young birds have been wing tagged in the Slieve Blooms - sky blue on left wing for 2014 and white on right wing for Slieve Blooms. Keep an eye out for these youngsters - just like Heather and Miranda they too will hopefully have great experiences and adventures ahead of them as they make their way in life!