Manx Hen Harrier population 'stable'


The Isle of Man's Hen Harrier population has stabilised, Manx BirdLife has said.

The charity conducted a census of the birds of prey during nesting season between April and July as part of a wider study across British and Ireland. Across the 86 known Hen Harrier sites in the Manx uplands, 38 territorial pairs were found.

Hen Harrier fieldwork was conducted on the Isle of Man between April and July (Andreas Gullberg).

The charity said it was the highest since a peak of 57 in 2004, which was followed by a decline to 29 by 2010. There were unconfirmed sightings of four further pairs, while the birds were seen at another 13 sites but were not thought to be nesting in those areas but rather using them for hunting, the group added.

Manx BirdLife's Managing Director, Neil Morris, said it was "good news" as the figures appeared to show the Manx Hen Harrier population had been "sustaining itself". However, he said there was no room for complacency as the island's upland areas were under unprecedented pressure from climate change and increasing human disturbance.

"It's imperative we do everything in our power to protect our harrier population and the large tracts of wild, open land on which they depend," Mr Morris said."The Isle of Man is internationally recognised as a stronghold for this bird of prey, and we have a duty to keep it that way."

Even a small future decline in the future could see the species classified as under extreme threat due to its small range and dependence on undisturbed, quality habitat, he added.