Rare success for hen harriers on Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorms National Park

The National Trust for Scotland is celebrating the rare success of a hen harrier nest on its Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms National Park – see press release here.

For the first time in decades, four chicks have been produced. This is a fantastic result and all credit to the estate managers of this walked-up grouse moor. Their management techniques are obviously a lot more sensitive than the intensive, damaging techniques seen on many driven grouse moors in this National Park and beyond.

One of the chicks has been satellite-tagged as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life Project, helped by Lush Cosmetics’ Hen Harrier Bathbomb fundraising campaign (here), and the public will be able to follow this young bird’s movements (and, let’s face it, her probable early demise) on the Life Project website (here).


Let’s hope she gets clear of the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park ASAP, a well-known black hole for hen harriers (see here) and other raptors (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here).

Although, if there was an estate licensing scheme in place, holding the raptor-killing estates to account, perhaps she’d stand more chance of survival in this area? It’s worth a go – you can sign the petition urging the Scottish Government to introduce such a licensing scheme HERE.

Photo of the satellite-tagged Mar Lodge hen harrier by Shaila Rao.


14 Responses to “Rare success for hen harriers on Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorms National Park”

  1. 1 Andrew Locke
    July 18, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Good news

  2. 2 nirofo
    July 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Excellent news for Mar Lodge, the problems for these birds starts when they leave the Mar Lodge estate and wander onto grouse shooting estates.

  3. 3 Chris Roberts
    July 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Great news, but unfortunately the poor birds are surrounded by ‘killing’ estates and their gamekeepers.

  4. July 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    No muirburn, no keepers, vermin everywhere….how can this be? Its surely impossible? Wait a minute, I have been to much tosh from good old Bert… the expert professional……

    Well done the NTS… shame they are plannning to lay-off so many of their experts and advisors.

    • 5 Grouseman
      July 18, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      I think you will find Mar Lodge does have keepers and carry out predator control…..

      • 6 dave angel
        July 19, 2016 at 12:19 am

        But presumably their keepers aren’t expected to produce a shootable surplus of red grouse, and therein lies the difference.

        • 7 Jack Snipe
          July 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm

          Sorry Dave, that’s a nice thought but a bit naive I’m afraid. Let’s not get too excited about Mar Lodge fledging one harrier brood; the fact that this is considered worth celebrating doesn’t say much about the history of harrier breeding success on this site. I understand the need for positive reinforcement, but it’s only a very small step in the right direction.

  5. 8 Merlin
    July 18, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    well done and thank you Mar Lodge, it takes guts to stand up and go against the grain

  6. 9 Bimbling
    July 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Good news. Is this unusual? The Trust have owned and managed Mar Lodge for decades. Have they not had hen harrier success before? Have they changed any tenants or something? Why success now?

  7. July 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

    This must be a result of the pressure on the grouse managers from blogs such as this one and Mark Avery’s ‘Standing up for Nature. Can ONLY be GOOD NEWS. That is not to say that the pressure should be lessened. Keep up the great work RPS.

  8. July 20, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    A partial success. The real success will be if the tagged youngsters don’t mysteriously ‘disappear’ once they wander on to various notorious estates and return to breed themselves. At this stage, I wouldn’t put any money on it …..

  9. 12 Tony Warburton MBE
    July 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    As the first man on the moon once said “A small step for man, but a giant step for mankind”. Let us at least allow ourselves one small cheer, then all get down on our hands and knees and pray for another – even bigger – miracle, i.e. all four chicks survive ‘running the gauntlet beyond Mar Lodge! If the tagged chick ‘disappears’ suddenly or the signal doesn’t change positions while on a Grouse Moor, we can await the response of the pleasure killers, NGA and Moorland Monsters & Co, Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

  10. 13 Brian
    July 22, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Yes ,a step in the right direction,I wish all the four were Satellite Tagged though,if keepers know every Hen Harrier Fledgling as been Sat Tagged they might just might think twice before Blasting Them,and a possibility of the sat tag being traced to their shooting estate as the sat tag stops transmitting on their estate ! ,and there is a slim hope of the shot bird being tracked and found as Annie unfortunately was ! I realise each sat tag is expensive ,but I think this is a Priority !

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