Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Good Bye & Good Luck to the Parkgate Hen Harriers

Sunday was certainly an action packed day. It started with a fantastic ringing session, but more on that in another blog post soon.  After a great morning ringing, we headed from Lancashire, back through Liverpool and the Wallasey Tunnel to the Wirral, as Sunday afternoon was all about Hen Harriers.

Sunday was the last RSPB Skydancers on the Dee event for now, as very soon the Hen Harriers will be making their way back to the uplands for the breeding season.  The Donkey Stand (the usual place where we set up) was taken by workmen who were repairing/improving that area for the public, so this time we were raising awareness at The Boathouse/Baths end of the promenade.  The views down that end across the salt marsh are just stunning, however, you don't get quite as many people walking past to engage with.


Visibility was great and the weather was Spring-like, despite the cold, however I didn't pay much attention to that, as I was entertained by the vast quantity and quality of bird life on offer.  I was also catching up with Elliot Montieth and the RSPB's Katy who was in charge of the event. 

The first bird of prey encountered was a self found Short Eared Owl. It flew really close in to where we were, being only about 10 metres away from the wall at one point. I just watched it, totally engrossed and didn't even think about pictures.  Sadly by the time Elliot got into a suitable position for getting a picture, the owl had gone a bit to further away. He still got a great record shot though.

As the day progressed, it became clear that it was going to be all about raptors. Including a couple of species seen in the morning at ringing, my raptor total for the day was 7;  Merlin, Peregrine, Short Eared Owl, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Buzzard, and Sparrowhawk. The Merlin was a stunning adult male and came quite close in to get some amazing views through the scope, as did the ringtail Hen Harrier that flew past a couple of times, also allowing some great views.


Some people had traveled from Derby and some from Bristol to see their first ever Hen Harrier. It was just fantastic being able to show them such a great view of the ringtail and I hope that is a memory that will live with them for a long time.

So what now for the Dee Estuary Hen Harriers? Well hopefully they will survive their journey to the uplands and then get to skydance before raising successful broods. Well that's the dream anyway. With so much against them, they need all the help and awareness we can raise.

If you are concerned about our natural world, maybe you could join my Thunderclap campaign to get MPs to think much further ahead when making decisions that impact the environment. You can join the campaign here and help shout out the message together, as one, on 19th April.


We all have a responsibility to speak up for the natural world.

Linking to Wild bird Wednesday

15 comments:

  1. Sounds like the raptors really cooperated for you on this day!

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  2. So similar to our Northern Harrier in the U.S.!! Excellent narration Findlay.

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  3. Oh yes, I love the Harrier, brilliant images Findlay.

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  4. Oh yes, I love the Harrier, brilliant images Findlay.

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  5. you have such interesting birding life. Good luck with your campaign :)

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  6. Hello Findlay. You have a wonderful blog. I would love to see that many raptors, especially the merlin. I will follow you now.

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  7. Sounds like a great day, and the Hen Harriers put in a display too. Good to hear of so many raptors over the marsh.

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  8. Sounds like you had a good day Findlay. Lots of other people had a good day too thanks to your happy band of volunteers.

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  9. It's always a poignant moment when we say goodbye to much-loved 'friends'. I can sense your feelings about the Harriers, Fin, hoping that they're off to a safe and healthy life in their summer quarters, with so much that threatens their existence. I get the same feelings when we say goobye to the Ospreys at the end of the summer. I've been known to shed a tear (or two!) at their departure - and the same (with joy) when they return the following year.

    Keep up the good work - - - - Richard

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  10. It's always heartwarming to read about all you are doing to save the hen harriers. Gives this great-grandmother hope for the future. I smiled when you were"totally engrossed" with the owl and therefore got no picture... When that sort of thing happens to me I try to remind myself about my years and years before there were digital cameras ..back then I was just happy to see and ID the birds. Now I'm disappointed if I don't get a picture...;))

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  11. I always enjoy reading your blog and seeing your photos!
    Hope you are having a great day!
    Lea

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  12. Saying Goodbye is always difficult but you are continuing to do really great work Finlay. Keep it up.

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  13. You got me curious, you didn't ring a Merlin did you?

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  14. Splendid post - thats more like check of list of birds of prey I used to get in a year when I was your age - so, I suppose some progress has been made (in some places!!) Hope all is well.

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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