Thursday, 20 March 2014

Latest update

 Many thanks to Stephen Murphy for this update:

All is well with the trio of 2013 Langholm birds. In recent days, they have started to range further from the roost hence home ranges (HR) are gradually expanding. Interestingly, all are still using the same series of roosts first visited in autumn 2013. The birds at Langholm are favouring rushy Juncus dominated areas and Miranda is roosting up in the Irish heather and grass.

The HR’s of Miranda, Hattie and Grainne in the last 20 days were approximately7km x 7km, 7 x 3.8km and 14.6km x 7.8km respectively. Grainne’ s range increased significantly on the 11th of March as she ventured out of her usual quarters and spent the afternoon on a mountainside west of Kirkstile, after crossing the busy A7 Edinburgh road. This is approximately 8km from her favoured roost and nearly15 km from the northern extremity of her winter range. She was tracked active over a small area (presumably hunting) around 1500 hrs and was back in the main roost by 18.00hrs.

It will be interesting to find out if these 9-month old birds attempt to breed in 2014. Proportionately more young birds bred in Bowland (2002 -2010) than in the populations studied by Balfour and Watson. This usually involved a yearling pairing with an adult, but in 2007, a yearling pair bred successfully. The yearling females that bred were mostly successful and surprisingly adept at rearing broods of 5 or 6, and many of the brown male parents were excellent providers. Would these young birds get this opportunity to breed in a stable population at carrying capacity?  

Young Harrier just before fledging Laurie Campbell

Male Hen Harrier hunting over the moor

We'll keep you updated with Miranda, Grainne and Hattie's progress.. Keep watching this space.

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