Follow Manx hen harrier “Hetty”

A Manx hen harrier has been fitted with a satellite tracker as part of a scheme to monitor movement of the species and deter illegal persecution in the UK.

The juvenile female harrier, named Hetty, had the tag fitted by an RSPB bird ringer and an experienced local volunteer under a joint scheme run by Manx BirdLife and the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project.


Male and female hen harrier chicks


“The local population of hen harriers was considered to be doing well until recently,” Manx BirdLife Chief Operating Officer, Dora Querido said. “However a sudden decline of 49% was recorded on the island between 2004 and 2010, with numbers dropping from 54 to just 29 pairs.”

Little is known about the reasons for decline of the Manx population and the satellite tagging will help us understand how juvenile hen harriers disperse and study their winter habits during the lifespan of the tag.

“Given the wide-ranging nature of hen harriers, it is possible that there is some degree of movement between the Isle of Man, UK and Ireland.”

Hen harriers – in addition to their normal diet of small birds and mammals – sometimes eat grouse. This brings them into conflict with the driven grouse shooting industry. Scientific research shows that Illegal killing of hen harriers threatens their survival in some parts of the UK and that this persecution is principally associated with driven grouse moors

Once fitted and while functioning, the satellite tag will transmit the location of the bird on a regular base” explained the local ringer responsible for the operation.

“However, should the bird stop moving for a set period of time, a “mortality switch” is triggered sending out a separate VHF radio signal which makes it easier to find the device and the bird.”

The public will be able to follow Hetty’s movements through an interactive map on the LIFE Project website and Manx BirdLife links.

However, for security reasons information will be shown with a two-week delay and at low map resolution making it impossible for the public to identify precise locations.


Lesley and Hetty

Hetty with Lesley Cowin representing SPMC


The bird was named Hetty by Lesley Cowin in memory of her late father Sydney Cowin who bequeathed an amount of money to the local charitable trust the Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside (SPMC). The society partly funded the costs of this procedure. Many thanks go to the SPMC for making this possible.

The experienced local RSPB volunteer followed and monitored the progress of an active hen harrier nest from April to determine likely hatching and fledgling dates and advised on the most suitable date for tagging. An RSPB UK volunteer came across to fit the solar-powered tag.

One male and a female chick from the same nest were also color ringed” the local ringer said.

“All monitoring, ringing, and satellite tagging work was carried out under full appropriate licences from the relevant Manx and UK authorities and in strict accordance with the law”


Hen harrier chick being ringed


Manx BirdLife are appealing to the public to help maintain the island’s population. If you see a hen harrier with a black plastic ring on their left leg please send the details to

Male hen harriers are a pale grey colour, females and immatures are brown with a white rump and a long, barred tail which give them the name ‘ringtail’. They fly with wings held in a shallow ‘V’, gliding low in search of food, which mainly consists of meadow pipits and voles.

Two more satellite tags will be fitted on young birds next year and an appeal for sponsorship of the project has been made by Manx BirdLife.



SPMCLogo natura2000_colour logo_LIFE_colour


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Greylag Goose caught on wallabies’ camera

Written by James Walker, Media and Communications volunteer  


Camera traps have revolutionised the conservation world, allowing views of wildlife not possible to achieve conventionally. Other than noticing the camera itself, there is no disturbance so animals and birds behave completely naturally, meaning video footage or still photographs can be captured that offer useful insights into behaviour and identification. Many research projects across the world use camera traps as a major source of gathering data.

So what has this got to do with goings on in the Isle of Man? Well, Paige Havlin has been using camera traps to monitor the population of wild Wallabies for the Manx Wildlife Trust. In addition to the exotic marsupials, the cameras have also revealed a site frequented by Greylag Geese.

The pattern of activity shown by the camera trap tells us that the Geese arrive at the site every morning at around 9.30 am, heading off to other areas later on.  The attached video shows the arrival of the Geese.



The Greylag Goose is the largest species native to Europe, and is the ancestor of the more familiar domestic geese seen in farmyards, selectively bred for generations. They are resident on the island, fields with areas of shallow freshwater being a preferred habitat. The Isle of Man has a breeding population of 42 – 55 pairs (46 000 pairs in UK) and more than 600 wintering birds (140 000 in UK), boosted by arrivals from the continent.

Many thanks to Paige for sharing this sighting with us. Please like her Facebook page ‘IOM Wallaby Sightings’ to keep up to date with her research.

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MANX BIRD REPORT for the week ending 19th JULY 2015

A number of interesting sightings this week, including a number of species seen at the Calf of Man. A few raptors spotted as well, including Peregrine, Hen Harrier, Kestrel and Buzzard but for the safety of the birds we won’t be providing details of their locations.

Please find below a table with the details of the sightings sent to us during the week ending on 19th July 2015.

See here for the full list of species that have been reported this year.

Many thanks to all the observers that have contributed to this week sightings

The new bird reporting website has been delayed until further notice. Please continue to send in your observations and photographs using the usual form.

Puffin_2015_07_15_maughold head_Paulodonnell_xs

Puffin at Maughold Head by Paul O’Donnell







Date Species Number Location / Details Observer
13-Jul Eider 10+ Pooilvaaish Ange Maddrell-Reeve
13-Jul Eider 10 Peel Michael Butler
15-Jul Peregrine 2 Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Gannet 5 Peel Michael Butler
13-Jul Cormorant 4 Peel Michael Butler
15-Jul Shag 30+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Shag 5+ Niarbyl Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Grey Heron 1 Pooilvaaish Ange Maddrell-Reeve
13-Jul Oystercatcher ca.8 Pooilvaaish Ange Maddrell-Reeve
15-Jul Oystercatcher 4 The Sound Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Oystercatcher 20+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Curlew 1 Pooilvaaish Ange Maddrell-Reeve
15-Jul Great Black-Backed Gull 30+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Great black backed gull 10+ Niarbyl Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Black backed Gull 5 Peel Michael Butler
15-Jul Guillemot 100+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Guillemot 6 Peel Michael Butler
15-Jul Razorbill 50+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Razorbill 5 Peel Michael Butler
13-Jul Black Guillemot 8 Peel Michael Butler
15-Jul Puffin 1 Maughold Head Paul O’Donnell
15-Jul Cuckoo 1 Niarbyl Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 Glen Auldyn Coleen Butcher
15-Jul Swallow 10 The Sound Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Meadow Pipit 35+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Meadow Pipit 15+ The Sound Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Rock Pipit 1 Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
13-Jul Grey Wagtail 2 Peel Michael Butler
15-Jul Grey Wagtail 2 The Sound Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Pied Wagtail 2 The Sound Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Stonechat 4 Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Wheatear 10 Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Chough 10+ Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Raven 4 Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
15-Jul Linnet 15 Calf of Man Mike and Sam Butler
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