Rare raptor

There’s one bird of prey for which Orkney is justly famous, the hen harrier. Hen harriers are one of our very rarest birds of prey and Orkney is a vital breeding site to them, particularly because everywhere else, especially on the mainland, they have been shockingly persecuted. One of the best, or certainly the nicest, ways of seeing a hen harrier in Britain is to come up to Orkney in summer, scan around and wait till that magic moment when you see a lovely long-winged bird slowly quartering across the hillside, looking for Orkney voles. Jim Williams works for the RSPB and he’s monitoring Orkney’s hen harriers. And this means that Bill Oddie can go with him and get a very privileged, close-up view. They find two nicely half grown chicks: they’re about three weeks old at the moment and they’ll be fledging in about another 10 days, when they’re four to four and a half weeks old. Jim will be putting a little metal numbered ring on to their legs so eventually they can build up a data bank, which tells us about the birds’ movements, how long they live and how healthy the population is. And like all bird ringers Jim has a special licence. An island population is at the same time both safe and vulnerable. As long as these birds stay on the islands there are no enemies here for them, so they’ll be fine. But if someone brought in a fox in a very short time they could wipe out all the hen harriers on Orkney.

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3 minutes


Role Contributor
PresenterBill Oddie
Camera OperatorRobin Cox
Camera OperatorPeter Mccowen
ProducerHugh Pearson
Executive ProducerFiona Pitcher

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