Hen harriers establish breeding population on Isle of Lewis

It’s not often there’s a good news story about the hen harrier, a species that suffers acute levels of persecution on many driven grouse moors across Scotland and England, so much so that the UK hen harrier population is in decline.

So there’s welcome news from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, where the RSPB’s Conservation Manager Robin Reid has reported the establishment of a small new breeding population, estimated to be ‘over ten breeding pairs’.

If you want to find out why hen harriers were considered a rare species on Lewis until recent years, why conservationists think they’re breeding there now, and what threats they may face on this island, you can read Robin’s blog here.

[Young hen harriers from a nest on Lewis, photo via RSPB Scotland]


10 thoughts on “Hen harriers establish breeding population on Isle of Lewis”

  1. I’m very happy about this because they are where the dsitribution model in the never seen update to the hen harrier conservation framework predicted they should be. The model was variously derided (by all sides) because hen harriers would never breed on Lewis! Never trust an expert (or a model). They actually arrived several years ago and happily Paul Haworth was still alive to see them.

  2. Good News. The absence of that renowned harrier predator, Homo Crimino Drivenae Grousus, so devastating on the mainland, raises hopes that a permanent presence will now be established on Lewis.

  3. This is fantastic news and hopefully the harriers have received a warm welcome from the locals too – a first time for everything. I didn’t know voles were absent on Lewis – a shame the ancient peoples who are responsible for bringing over what became the Orkney vole didn’t drop some off in the Shetlands and Lewis while they were at it, a banquet for hen harriers. A note about wind turbines, I was amazed earlier this year to see in a program about eagles that new technology is being developed which can detect a large bird nearing wind turbines and close them down temporarily when there’s a risk the bird will be hit. They’re working on a fully automatic system and this could be a game changer – https://www.audubon.org/magazine/spring-2018/how-new-technology-making-wind-farms-safer-birds

  4. To quote ypu “acute levels of persecution on many driven grouse moors ” . Where is your evidence for such a gross exageration?

    1. Dear Toby, Open your eyes.
      Ignore all the propaganda from BASC, gamekeepers and shooting estate owners and managers. They are the criminals intent of eradication of raptors, predatory mammals and mountain hares.

    2. And just in case the persecution/elimination of all the other wildlife on grouse moors was actually to help the HH population b the conservationists, otherwise known as game keepers and their bosses, this quote from an Ecology Journal, ‘Even a generous assessment of the magnitude of a supposed beneficial effect of the control of foxes and other predators by moorland gamekeepers on hen harrier nest success indicated that its effect on the population trend of hen harriers would be small relative to the large negative effect of persecution of harriers on grouse moors.’
      Not propaganda.

    3. To quote Beadle “Where is your evidence for such a gross exageration?” Where is your evidence that it is an exaggeration? (Did you see that, Beadle? I can spell – gamekeepers cannot)

  5. Excellent news..Im well out of the loop on Lewis bird populations now but not so long ago there were very high wader populations in places which would prove a good food source..possibly also rats which are a favoured food source of golden eagles on the Uists?

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