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Hen Harriers on the Isle of Man
Manx Bird Photography
Hen Harriers are a key part of the food chain here in the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man may no longer attract hoards of holiday makers but Chris Sharpe explains why it's become a top destination for hen harriers.

"The Isle of Man has over twice as many Hen Harriers than England.

"I think one of the reasons is that here there is no persecution of these beautiful birds.

"In England there could be around 232 pairs but because of illegal interference by human beings there are only 23 pairs.

"Despite the heavy penalties that exist for this illegal interference there are still some people who hunt these birds, destroy the eggs or kill the chicks.

"Those are some of the reasons why these birds are close to extinction across the water.

Hen Harrier
Manx Bird Photography
Hen Harriers live on average for around 9 years
The oldest confirmed bird was a female of 16 years
Hen harriers have a body length of 43-52 cm, a wingspan of 99-121 cm and weight 0.3-0.53 kg
Egg-laying occurs in mid April to early July
The female incubates an average of 4-6 eggs
The chicks hatch after 30 days
Males often breed with and support more than one female

"You can imagine therefore why it's an absolute privilege for me to able to work with the Hen Harriers in the Isle of Man.

"Here, the birds are free to establish their own natural and fluctuating population levels.

"Here they are free from unnatural outside influences which is why there are in excess of 50 nesting females and a similar amount of male birds around the Isle of Man.

"The Isle of Man has over twice as many Hen Harriers than the entire United Kingdom.

"Why do I love these birds so much? Well partly I am biased because Birds of Prey are a particular favourite of mine.

"But there's no denying, Hen harriers are graceful, enigmatic and beautiful.

Manx Bird Photography
The Isle of Man has over twice as many Hen Harriers than England

"When they are hunting they glide around 3 foot above the ground and when they eventually go in for kill they just seem to fall out of the air.

"They then take their kill back to the nest, shred it and feed it to their young.

"The birds feed on long tails, small rabbits, young grouse and occasionally other birds, but the important thing to remember is that they kill to eat.

"They are a key part of the food chain here in the Isle of Man. They keep the countryside in balance.

"When you see the Harriers you could be forgiven for thinking the males and females are different breeds.

"They appear to be completely different, the males are pale blue-grey with black tipped wings and the females are brown".




SEE ALSO
Wind farming on the Isle of Man
16 Nov 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Farming the Manx Loaghtan sheep
16 Nov 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
'Illegal threat' to hen harriers
22 Dec 08 |  England


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