Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 10:16 UK

Six chicks hatch at harrier nest

Hen Harrier chicks in Northumberland
The nest is monitored 24 hours a day by volunteers

Six eggs laid by a rare hen harrier have hatched at a nest site in Northumberland.

The bird and its mate are nesting in North Tynedale, where more than 30 volunteers are helping experts protect them from illegal human interference.

The Northumberland nest is one of only a handful of successful breeding pairs in the UK.

The RSPB said all the eggs laid had hatched - the first egg on 15 May, with the last chick only emerging on 23 May.

Earlier this month, the government confirmed hen harriers as England's most seriously threatened bird of prey.

As a result, they are now included on the government's list of species considered of principal importance for conserving England's wildlife.

'Fingers crossed'

Phil Curtis of the RSPB, who is organising the nest watch, said: "We are thrilled to have six healthy hen harrier chicks in a nest in Northumberland.

"It's a great result for all the volunteers who have helped out with the nest watch so far this spring.

"With so few harriers nesting in England, every chick is precious and we will be keeping our fingers crossed that the youngsters make good progress over the coming weeks."

Last year, the Tynedale harriers raised five chicks at their nest - one of only 15 successful nests recorded by the RSPB in 2007 .

The Northumberland Harrier Nest Watch is a partnership between the RSPB, and Forestry Commission with support from the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club, BBC Wildlife Fund, SITA Trust, Egger UK and Tynedale Council.

Harriers hatch in protected nests
04 Oct 07 |  Lancashire
Rare bird on verge of extinction
05 Jan 05 |  Lancashire
Fears for future of hen harrier
03 Aug 04 |  Lancashire
Big effort to save rare birds
13 Jan 03 |  England


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