Blog Post: In with a Chance – satellite-tagged hen harrier returns home

Our last Skydancer blog focused on the sad fate of the young satellite-tagged hen harrier, Lad, who barely a month after fledging, was found dead in the Cairngorms National Park, brought down by injuries “consistent with the damage caused by shooting” (see here ). Today however, I’m delighted to have a much happier story to share – our remaining satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, has returned home! Chance is a female hen harrier who was satellite-tagged by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and fledged from a nest in Southwest Scotland in June 2014. Although this was just before the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project began, the project has been following her movements since it launched and the story that has unfolded is a remarkable example of just how wide-ranging and unpredictable hen harriers can be. Chance displaying her satellite tag at RSPB Wallasea reserve, October 2014. Image (c) Tony Orwell Having spread her wings in the late summer around the Scottish borders, she slowly made her way south, exploring the uplands of Northern England before being spotted at RSPB’s Wallasea reserve in Essex in October 2014. There we thought she’d stay but the south of England clearly wasn’t far south enough for this adventurous bird and by the end of that month, she had crossed the Channel and set up home in the Pay de Loire region of Northern France! Come April 2015, Chance was showing every sign of staying put but in late May, she surprised us all by crossing the Channel once more and heading north, briefly to Scotland and ultimately settling down to spend her summer exploring the hills of Northeast England.   Chance's route south from Northumberland to France took only three days, in October 2015. Her rapid return journey north  from France to Scotland  took just four days, in May 2016. When autumn came this time, there was no hanging about. In October 2015 Chance flew from Northumberland, via South Wales, back to Northern France in the space of just three days! Now, after another winter of watching and waiting, Chance has returned to the UK once more, this time taking just four days to travel up the east coast of England and back to where she started in Southwest Scotland. From Scotland to England, Wales, and France, the remarkable journey of this young female is an important reminder that if we want to truly secure a future for hen harriers in any one part of the UK, they need to be protected throughout the whole of it. Increased satellite tagging through the Hen Harrier LIFE Project is playing a vital role in this by helping us to better understand where hen harriers go and to highlight where they're most at risk.  It’s incredible to think that without satellite tagging, we would never have had the faintest idea of the incredible journey our Chance was undertaking every winter. So now she’s back, what next? As a second year bird, there’s every possibility Chance will attempt to breed this year but with her late arrival on the scene, will she find a mate in time? Follow her fortunes on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website as we map her movements every two weeks and follow us on twitter @RSPB_Skydancer .   

Can you help with a Bumble Bee Recording Project

Interested in bumble bees? Here’s chance to get involved with a “Citizen Science” bumble bee monitoring project across the hay meadows of the Forest of Bowland AONB.

The data collected will be sent to the Bumble bee Conservation Trust (BBCT) as part of their “Beewalk” project, but also as a joint AONB & YDMT hay meadow monitoring project, and as part of a Masters research project looking at the bee numbers in restored and unimproved hay meadows by Edge Hill University student, Carol Edmondson.

Data will be collected from each site once a week for six weeks over the hay growing period mid-June to the end of July.
We are looking for volunteers to walk a set transect (approx. 1 hr), whether you can commit to just one or all 6 weeks, all help is appreciated!
Don’t worry if you don’t know one from another there is a training day on the 11th June at Stephen Park for anyone interested in taking part (see the FOB events page).
The transects are already set up and the data entry will all be done by Carol so no paperwork except your recording forms!

Please let us know if you wish to join the training, or feel free to email if you want any further information carol.ed@btconnect.com

Here’s some information from BBCT website:

“Bumblebees are icons of the British summer, but they’re in trouble. Bumblebees are declining across the country (we’ve already lost two species), and to better understand the reasons why, we need data – lots of data – on where we can find the remaining bees, how many there are and what they’re doing.

That’s where BeeWalk comes in. BeeWalk is a national recording scheme run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to monitor the abundance of bumblebees on transects across the country. These transects would be impossible without volunteers, who identify and count the bumblebees they see on a monthly walk along a set route from March to October.

Anyone can become a BeeWalker – all you need is a spare hour or so every month to walk a fixed route of about a mile (you choose where it goes), and send us your sightings. The information collected by BeeWalk volunteers is integral to monitoring how bumblebee populations change through time, and will allow us to detect early warning signs of population declines. All data collected will contribute to important long-term monitoring of bumblebee population changes in response to changes in land-use and climate change, and, ultimately, to informing how we manage the countryside.

We hope you’ll be able to join in – without the fundamental information provided by volunteers across the country, we’re fighting blind in the struggle to reverse the plight of the bumblebee.”

You can find out more about bumble bees & the BBCT here:-

http://www.beewalk.org.uk/

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/get-involved/events-calendar/