NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Rare hen harrier chicks hatch at Mar Lodge Estate

Harriers in nest Image copyright Shaila Rao
Image caption Four hen harrier chicks hatched at the Mar Lodge Estate

Rare hen harriers have bred successfully at a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) estate in the Cairngorms for the first time in living memory.

NTS said four chicks had hatched from one nest at the Mar Lodge Estate.

One male chick has been satellite tagged as part of the RSPB's Hen Harrier Life project.

The species was pushed to the brink of extinction by the early 1900s. Numbers recovered but there are still only about 500 breeding pairs in Scotland.

The large raptors are found mainly in moorland areas.

'Really exciting'

Mar Lodge Estate property manager David Frew said: "It is fantastic news and really exciting to see these birds returning to the estate for the first time in living memory.

"We have worked hard to create an environment where raptors can thrive, and it is great to see that our approach to management is paying off."

Image copyright Shaila Rao
Image caption A male chick has been fitted with a satellite tag

Will Boyd-Wallis, from the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: "We very much hope that the careful management undertaken by the National Trust for Scotland alongside other estates in the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership and in the wider National Park will lead to many more pairs successfully returning to the area."

Blanaid Denman, from the RSPB's Hen Harrier Life Project, said the news was "amazing", given the "parlous state" of Scotland's hen harrier population.

She added: "National surveys show a 20% decline in just six years between 2004 and 2010 and east Scotland in particular has seen only a handful of successful breeding attempts in recent years.

"All this makes the return of hen harriers to Mar Lodge even more exciting and a wonderful cause for celebration."

From the end of the summer, people will be able to follow the tagged chick's adventures online via the Hen Harrier Life Project website.

In the meantime, Mar Lodge Estate is running an online poll to name the chick.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites