Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Marsh Harrier.

Marsh Harrier. Gary Jones.

It could never fail to excite any birder to see a Marsh Harrier heading your way as I did on Tuesday, the bird was flying over Cockerham Marsh and went north over Bank End Farm. It is the largest of the British species of harrier and some of them winter in this country, others move to S Europe, NW Africa, or south of the Sahara, with such a wide wintering range its not surprising that this adaptable and opportunistic bird has increased in number both in Britain and abroad though this hasn't always been the case for the species. By the end of the 19th century it was no more than an accidental visitor having probably been a species which bred in lowland Lancashire prior to the draining of meres and mosses in the 17/18th centuries.

From virtual extinction at the turn of the 20th century and helped by the banning of agricultural pesticides and the benefits of conservation measures the Marsh Harrier entered a period of expansion which continues to the present day with an estimated 200 females nesting. In our own area at Leighton Moss two or three birds were being recorded annually by the mid 1960's, and the rate of occurrences then increased throughout the 70's, but breeding success didn't come until 1987 when a pair fledged three young and the Marsh Harrier has nested there ever since.

Of interest, there has only ever once been a ringing recovery of Marsh Harrier - which turned out to have been a not very informative one - that of a bird ringed in 1991 at Martin Mere and recovered just a few miles away at Southport a month later.


I received an e-mail from WWT yesterday asking me to remind/ask as many people as possible to sign the petition  - if you haven't already done so - to Save The Tiger. Would you please consider linking to the petition from my sidebar and help this vital cause. In particular I'm thinking of a country like the USA from where I receive many visitors, a vast country with vast numbers of people who could contribute and pass on the news on a large scale....PLEASE.  


Warren Baker said...

Ive recorded the Odd Marsh harrier over my patch Pete. I'd love another :-)

Pete Woodruff said...

Fair numbers in our area, as you see they breed at Leighton Moss annually.

Keep looking in Warren.

Phil said...

They do seem to follow me around Pete but I'm still looking for the ultimate picture a bit like the one you feature.

Pete Woodruff said...

A brilliant creature Phil, and yes an excellent pic by Gary who knows what to do with a camera. I did think of you when I clapped my eyes on it yesterday.

Now there's an old expression 'clapped my eyes on it'.

Anonymous said...

Saw female Marsh Harrier, perched in evening sun, near Gartree Prison, Leicestershire.
End of a great day as had been watching Ospreys at Rutland Water

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this 'Anonymous' about which I have no particular objection and allow them on to Birds2blog....just the frustration of why and not knowing who it is from.

A nice way for you to have ended a day watching Osprey's at Rusland water.

Thanks for looking in.