A hotline has been set up to encourage members of the public to report sightings of species of bird that is threatened with extinction.
Hen harriers are England’s most threatened breeding bird of prey with critically low nesting levels - there is only a handful left in the UK.
The RSPB has set up the hotline in hope that by doing so they will be able to act on information of bird-watchers who spot them on remote hills and moorlands.
Male hen harriers are an ash-grey colour with black tips on their wings. They can have a wingspan of nearly a metre.
Females are slightly larger in size, with brown plumage and are very similar to owls in appearance.
The RSPB say they are verging on the brink of extinction due to illegal killings happening on grouse moors, where some gamekeepers see hen harriers as a threat to their grouse stocks.
Conservationists believe it is possible for more than 300 breeding pairs in England to thrive - last year there was only nine recorded, two of which were in Cumbria.
Last year’s breeding season was the best for a decade with nine successful nests, seven of which we played a key role in protecting. However, this is just a fraction of the number there should be and birds are continuing be illegally killed.
We are asking farmers, wildlife watchers, walkers, fell runners, mountain bikers and anyone else who spends a lot of time in the hills in the North East to keep an eye out for hen harriers and let us know if they see one. It’s vital that we find out where they are breeding so we can protect the nests and give their chicks the best chance of survival.”
– AMANDA MILLER, CONSERVATION MANAGER FOR THE RSPB IN NORTHERN ENGLAND
The Harrier Hotline can be contacted on 0845 4600121, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The RSPB ask, if you are reporting a sighting, to include the date and location of the bird, with a six-figure grid reference where possible.
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