Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Miranda is keeping us guessing

Many thanks to Stephen Murphy for this update:

'I should know by now not to try to second-guess harrier routes. It appears the supposition made in the last update that she was primed for the crossing to Scotland was wrong, or at least premature, she is residing near the Garron Plateau in the Antrim Hills in Northern Ireland.

This is not the first time Miranda has visited this area. Between the 27th and 29th of October 2013 she flew from the Antrim coast at Cushendall to Slemish, so would have naturally flew over the Garron Plateau and surrounding hills.

In the last week, Miranda roosted near Loch Neagh, within 5km of a roost used by Heather in the autumn/winter of 2013. It was hoped the two satellite tracked harriers would meet up but this has not happened. However, given these two birds could travel anywhere in Europe, the 5km square that hosted both birds, albeit a few months apart must have something that is attractive to the species.
Miranda 20 day tracking data to 20th April 2014

15th - 20th April

Where to next? Data due in any minute so if you don’t hear anything presume she is in Antrim!
Data this am 23rd April shows Miranda is still in Antrim.

Meanwhile Hattie and Grainne are enjoying the sunshine (yes sunshine) on Langholm moor. This is one of the best seasons we've had at Langholm in several years in terms of early season harrier activity.. but we can only hope this will translate into breeding activity and success..
Composite image of female Hen Harrier(Hattie) skydancing (David Palmer)
We are lucky enough to have the support of two accomplished wildlife photographers - David Palmer ( and Bob Little  and will be sharing some of their images on this blog.



  1. Thank you for the update! Good to hear the activity at Lagholm is the best yet! Fingers crossed it will indeed result in breeding success!

  2. It's fantastic to see the youngsters doing so well. Well done team! :-) Thanks so much for the updates.

  3. Fascinating to see that Miranda has arrived back here in Northern Ireland again. My guess is that Stephen was not too far from the mark in his original prediction – but since last weekend, there has been a constant (and quite atypical) easterly airstream over NI with moderate-to-fresh E and SE winds in the North Channel. This unseasonal weather could itself have been enough to give Miranda second thoughts about attempting the sea crossing back to Galloway.

    The Garron Peninsula is the largest contiguous area of upland blanket bog in NI, and would be prime hunting terrain for any hen harrier, however homesick. At this time of year it harbours good populations of rodents (mainly shrews) as well as growing numbers of ground-nesting birds. The ground is still very wet and boggy in Spring, with much standing water in shallow pools – all of which discourage walkers until conditions dry out in Summer. There is no vehicular access worth talking about, and the whole place enjoys SAC protection status.

    We would be happy if Miranda made her way back to Langholm eventually – but she is quite welcome to stay! :)

    - Paul WlW