Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The three chicks are growing bigger each day, its only when they have a little flurry and you see the impressive wing span which they already have at such a young age, that you realise it wont be long before they are ready to go.

Within a week they seem to have doubled in size and their snowy white down is now peppered with dark feathers. Mum is leaving the nest much more frequently as she tries to satisfy the seemingly never ending hunger of her fast growing brood.

If you have been putting off coming up to the Centre to see the birds up close, I would urge you to attend soon. Pete Wilson advises that the older chicks may start to fledge in the next 10 days or so - doesnt time fly while you're having fun (no pun intended :) )

Our Volunteer presenters are doing stirling work, their knowledge and enthusiasm for this bird of prey really brings the whole experience to life and is really worth the trip, so we would love to see you at Beacon Fell.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Now even the greatest Hen Harrier fan would be hard pushed to describe this bird of prey as beautiful, or cute - amazing, enigmatic, breath taking definitely, but cute ....... umm perhaps not - However cute is exactly the word I used this morning when I had the pleasure of seeing all the chicks for the first time on screen.

We are now blessed with 3 bundles of joy, all white, fluffy and typical of any new born their heads seemingly too big for their bodies; as they stumble around all bleary eyed with nothing more than sleep and food on their mind.

We do still have another egg in the nest, Pete Wilson (our RSPB expert and man in the field) tells me that this egg will now not hatch and mum will probably remove it from the nest soon.

Approximately 50% of all Bowland Hen Harriers are tagged, enabling the experts to track and learn more about them, as well as help in the protection of the birds. Interestingly this year neither of the stars of our show - male or female (mum and dad to me) are winged tagged, the odds of both birds being a Bowland bird and not being tagged would be slim to say the least (although of course not impossible) and may suggest that one or both of the birds do not originate from Bowland. Whilst it is a lovely thought that Hen Harriers who were not born in Bowland are choosing to come and nest here, as they recognise it as a viable and safe nesting area, it is pure speculation and it could quite well be that both do originate from Bowland. I will leave that one for the Hen Harrier aficionados Pete and Stephen to discuss and make educated determinations - good luck lads :)

Whilst coming up to the visitor centre to see the footage of these magnificent birds of prey on the big screen is a fabulous experience; it really is a privilege to be able to see these birds of prey up close. I would also recommend attending one of the Hen Harrier Safaris that our RSPB colleague Pete has been running. These have proved really popular and regrettably there are just 2 more in the series this year. So why not join Pete and take the chance of seeing a Hen Harrier and other birds (merlins and ouzels) in the wild, as well (of course) enjoy the expert commentary and knowledge of Pete (he didn't even have to pay me for that one :) ). There are only a couple of places left so if you want to book a place please click on the following link Hen Harrier Safari

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

3 chicks and a new camera. Welcome to the latest installment. 3 of the eggs have hatched with one solitary egg remaining, I am assured that there is still time for the last egg to hatch.

Those of you who have been up to the Bowland Visitor Centre may have witnessed the rather hazy images. At first we thought it was the glare of the sun on the camera, but as the grotty weather resurfaced it was evident that something was amiss. We have replaced the camera on the nest and the images that are coming through now are truly fabulous.

Yesterday we were privvy to a very rare sight with dad swooping into the nest dropping off dinner. It is rare that you see dad in or near the nest, more often the female will go and meet him and if you are really lucky you can see a stunning ariel food pass as the male gracefully passes the morning spoils to the female.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

As the sun has been well and truly cracking the pavements in Bowland over the last few days, we have experienced some cracking times in the Hen Harrier Nest as well (do you like the smooth link lol), as two of our chicks have hatched. Both chicks are very sleepy and hungry (as is the life of all new borns) and mum is at her nurturing best.

With the start of the feeding frenzy, mum and dad will work tirelessly to ensure their brood have enough to eat. It is this hive of activity that with a wry smile I am reminded of David Crystal's poem The Merlot Mix in which he proffers
"A Hen Harrier swoops catching nothing but wind". I think our Hen Harrier dad will have to be more successful to ensure that his catch is a tasty morseful for his new family.