Three weeks ago we blogged (here) about two Hen Harrier chicks that had been satellite-tagged as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life+ Project. The two birds were named Holly and Chance, and members of the public could follow their movements on the Hen Harrier Life+ Project website.
Chance was a 2014 bird from SW Scotland, and she traveled to France for the 2014 winter, then back to the UK in spring 2015, and is currently back in France.
Holly was a 2015 bird from a site on MOD ground in Argyll. She fledged in August 2015 and in mid-October was reported to have dispersed to ‘the uplands of Central Scotland’.
The following statement has just appeared on the Hen Harrier Life+ Project website:
Holly – Latest Movements
“Unfortunately, recent data received from Holly’s satellite tag suggests that she has died. This is being followed up, and we will provide further information as soon as possible”.
There isn’t any further detail provided. The wording above suggests that her corpse has not been recovered (if it had, project staff would know for definite that she was dead, rather than inferring death from her sat tag signal). If that is the case, then obviously the cause of death can’t be ascertained until her body has been retrieved and examined. It’s hard not to assume the worst given the grouse-shooting industry’s inherent hatred and intolerance of this species, but it’s also worth being cautious at this stage. As unlikely as it sounds, it’s entirely possible that her sat tag has simply dropped off and it is just the tag that’s drilling a hole in the map. Time will tell.
We look forward to further updates from the project team.
Photo of Holly from the RSPB Hen Harrier Life+ Project website.