Marsh harrier raises family on screen for fourth season
A female marsh harrier has returned for the seventh year running to the reed bed at the Hawk and Owl Trust’s Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve. Thanks to a mini camera next to the nest visitors can watch ‘Mrs. H’, as the marsh harrier is affectionately known by staff and volunteers, and her new chicks on television screens in the visitor centre and in one of the hides.
From this hide visitors can also watch the male marsh harrier and ‘Mrs H’, when she leaves the nest, hunting over the reed bed.
The reserve is also host to two additional marsh harrier nests, each with a female, but, as is common with the species, sharing one male. One of the nests is known to have had two eggs earlier in the season, but further inspection was suspended to avoid jeopardising breeding success.
2011 is the fourth year that ‘Mrs H’ has starred on the television screens at the reserve, in 2008 she successfully raised three chicks, then five chicks in 2009. Last year six chicks successfully fledged from the nest and there are six chicks again this year. If her six fledge this year she will have raised 20 fledgelings in just four years.
If all goes well the chicks will be leaving the nest at the end of June or the beginning of July. Until then visitors to the reserve can watch ‘Mrs H’ and other magnificent marsh harriers flying above the reed bed on the reserve as well as being able to watch the growing chicks on the screens.
It is thought Mrs H is nine years old and if all goes well could be breeding for another five or so years. As she arrives at Sculthorpe Moor regularly at the same time of year annually it appears that Mrs H migrates south each winter to warmer climes and does not spend her winters in the UK.
Visitors can see what is going on at Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve every day of the week except Monday. Live footage from the nest cameras can be viewed on the big screen in the visitor and education centre between 9am and 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.