Hen Harrier 2012 season

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29th May 2012


Last year was one of our best year's for productivity on Skye and a pair also bred successfully for the first time on Lochalsh. There was some expectation that 2012 would bring back good numbers of birds. Unfortunately these expectations have not been met and with only 5 pairs so far confirmed breeding, numbers have reduced by 50%. This is also a pattern evident elsewhere with no birds at all breeding in England and numbers seriously depleted in the south of Scotland. There are a number of explanations for this including weather - it was a seriously cold winter in Europe where many birds may migrate to; it was also extremely wet and windy in the west of Scotland. This may point to a problem of poor winter survival. Another more sinister explanation is that birds are being systematically targetted by sporting interests at winter roost sites. Whatever the problem, it is evident that the species has reached a new crisis point. In terms of the local study I am extremely fortunate that many individuals pass me sightings. This is especially important at the present time just in case some breeding pairs may have been overlooked - many thanks for all the help.