Category Archives: b) Kites and Harriers

Pallid Harrier on Shetland

needs me and Mrs G to be on Shetland too 🙂

Thanks to my bloomin marvellous friends on Shetland, Sharon, me and Yoav the Perlman will be heading north early next week. I just wanted to flag up my hopes. Maybe this chap will still be around. Photographed by Brydon Thomason in one of my favourite places on the planet. As this particular spot is one of favourite birding places in the world, and is best best birded solo- if I tell you where it is I will then have to kill you 🙂 . Brydon has been a friend for nearly 10 years since we met on a very windy day on Foula. Since then we have worked together and played together. I love his passion for Shetland and its nature- which is so wonderfully informed by his knowledge of his native Shetland and its nature. I have guided for him over several years being more than happy to serve the vision of Shetland Nature . Brydon’s business which has grown to be a shining example of its kind.

and he takes bloomin juicy photos (check out the little montage below). This Pallid Harrier, probably still around is no doubt awaiting our arrival. It was found just over a week ago.

We are ready and will soon be on our way!

Shetland here we come!

DSC_4102_Pallid_Ndale 2015_web

DSC_4158_montage_webDSC_4108_pallid_Ndale 2015_webDSC_4100_Pallid_Ndale 2015_web


Not the first time you have seen this kind of banner- don’t think it will be the last 🙂

Shetland Nature (1 of 1)


Hen Harriers – getting a little soapy for the cause

Bath Bomb, Bath Bomb, your my….

Some folk are doing some serious campaigning, information sharing and opinion changing on behalf to save the shocking decline of the Hen Harrier in the U.K. and exposing the underlying issues. I am not one of those-  but I am a big fan of what they are doing and feel I should do more. Well here’s little effort in the hope that my foolishness might encourage YOU if you havent  signed up yet- you just might.

LUSH have produced a Hen Harrier ‘bath bomb’. Sent me one after an unguarded comment, so happy to play the fool.

I need to point well away from myself to those doing the work. Please visit and sign up and support. For more info and action please click on these:

Raptors Alive collaborative inv. Chris Packham

Mark Avery’s Blog crammed with info and action points

Birders Against Wildlife Crime

Lush Hen Harrier Campaign

anyone else I should point to?

and to ‘inspire’ you/ terrify you to action…  a little insight into bath-bomb time

Lush Hen Harrier soap one (1 of 1)Lush Hen Harrier soap three (1 of 1)Lush Hen Harrier soap two (1 of 1)


Soapy Hen Harriers?

Lush offer sweet smell of salvation to save Hen Harriers

Lush cosmetics are releasing a new bath bomb named by TV presenter Chris Packham called Skydancer – Far From The Madding Guns, to help raise funds for one of England’s rarest bird of prey, the hen harrier.


Lush soap Hen Harrier (1 of 1)

Knowing the strength of feeling amongst the public, after their hen harrier campaign last year, they wanted to provide their customers with a way of directly contributing to the efforts of protecting this vulnerable bird. By buying a bath bomb, people can personally contribute to the monitoring of these precious few birds. A form of crowd funding, for people who otherwise feel powerless to help.

The money raised from the product will be put towards aiding the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ project which is satellite tagging as many hen harrier chicks as possible over the coming years. This strategy allows the UK’s largest and most successful conservation organisation to monitor these birds after they leave the nest.

A Government-commissioned report states that there should in fact be over breeding 300 pairs breeding on the uplands of northern England. However, in 2013 there were no successful nests and the situation has barely improved with just four successful pairs in 2014 and six pairs in 2015 – a statistic that still worries the conservation organisations greatly. According to the report, the main culprit for this decline is illegal persecution associated with driven grouse moors

Lush first got involved with the campaign to protect hen harriers in August 2014 when they linked up with the organisers of Hen Harrier Day, an event set up by Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Birders Against Wildlife Crime to highlight the near extinction of one of England’s rarest and most beautiful birds of prey. Between them a campaign was set up which saw Lush customers sign a politely worded plea to Her Majesty the Queen asking for her help and support in stopping this illegal activity. Over the course of the campaign 20,000 postcards were signed by Lush customers and hand delivered to Buckingham Palace late last year.

In an effort to conserve hen harriers the RSPB and Natural England have been satellite tracking the chicks of these birds to learn more about their ecology and to find out where they might be at risk.

Paul Morton, Lush campaigner says

“By helping the RSPB tag as many chicks as is legally and ethically possible, we’re compiling a much clearer understanding of where these birds are most at risk. If you think about it, this should be a project the shooting lobby should welcome with open arms. If they’re as concerned about hen harriers as they say they are, they won’t mind the whole country being updated and informed where roughly every tagged hen harrier across the country is through the RSPBs Hen Harrier LIFE+ project”

 Jeff Knott, the RSPB’s Head of Nature Policy, said: “We are delighted that Lush has come up with this imaginative way of raising awareness about hen harriers and getting their customers involved in their conservation. Everyone who buys a bath bomb will be making a valuable contribution towards bringing this amazing bird of prey back from the brink of extinction in England.”

 Anti-RSPB group, You Forgot The Birds recently issued a statement blaming the RSPB for the failure of five hen harrier nests this summer due to over-monitoring of these nests. However, Government agency Natural England confirmed the failure was actually down to the males from each pair never returning to the nest whilst out hunting miles away, therefore forcing the females to have to leave the eggs un-incubated whilst they went and found food for themselves.

ÂŁ5000 reward offered for missing Montagu’s Harrier

and 20,000 signatures to the Queen

by Lush

ÂŁ5000 reward offered for any information on the missing bird leading to a convictionlush one

LUSH customers from around the country recently signed 20,000 postcards to the Queen asking for her help to stop the illegal shooting of the beautiful Hen Harrier on driven grouse moors, a species teetering on the edge with only 3 breeding pairs left in England when there should be over 350. Now, with the recent shocking news of a satellite tagged Montagu’s Harrier suddenly going missing in Norfolk, it seems it doesn’t matter if it’s Hen Harrier on its breeding grounds, a migrating Montagu’s Harrier or a hunting Peregrine, no bird of prey is safe from the guns.


In a strange twist of fate, the satellite tag on the missing Montagu’s Harrier was actually paid for by LUSH founder Mark Constantine and the bird was even named after his wife Mo. The husband and wife team have also offered a £5000 reward for any information on the missing bird leading to a conviction.


The killing or disturbing of any bird of prey in England is totally illegal.  With 20,000 voices from the high street saying enough is enough, will their calls finally be heard above the gunfire?


Paul Morton from LUSH said “I can’t believe that just as we were gathering the last of the postcards from our recent campaign to send to Her Majesty, we get the news that another rare bird of prey, a Montagu’s Harrier, has gone missing near Great Bircham in Norfolk…it never ends! Luckily the bird was satellite tagged as part of a larger research project so the RSPB know exactly where the bird was right up until the last few seconds. Birds of prey are some of the most beautiful of any bird in world, I can’t understand what thrill people get from shooting them”.


LUSH’s Ethics Director, Hilary Jones added “It seems it is not a moment too soon that our customers are asking the Queen to intervene in this madness.  It is time to preserve our wild heritage with the same respect we treat our other institutions. Our once abundant birds of prey are being Harry’d to extinction and we need to act now before it becomes too late”.


LUSH will be handing the 20,000 signatures over to Buckingham Palace in the coming weeks in the hope the Royal Family take note of these atrocities and help put a stop to this slaughter once and for all.




For further information on the Hen Harrier plight, please visit

For further press information and interview opportunities, 

please contact Stephanie in the LUSH Press Office on 020 7434 3948/07715 055 005 or email

One of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Two weeks before the official book launch. With lots of interest about the new book’s content, I propose to try and post at least one photo a day which relates to each chapter for the next 14 days. Hope it’s of interest.

One of the chapters covers Hen Harrier and Northern Harrier. For More on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

grey male Northern Harrier hudsonius Shaun Robson.

grey male Northern Harrier hudsonius Shaun Robson.


Pallid X Montagu’s Harrier

Apparent mixed pairing in Spain

Juan Sagardia

News in from Juan of this apparent pairing between a male Pallid harrier and female Montagu’s Harrier in Zamora, Spain. All the glorious photos taken by him.

I suppose if you were a off-the-beaten track male Pallid harrier with no females (or other males) around you go for the next best thing… Pallid Harrier is classified as near threatened globally and recent expansion in toward western Europe perhaps the species response/ reaction to factors affecting the population elsewhere.

First you arrive in the area looking your awesome self!


The local ladies find you quiet attractive if a little different so try to get away from you…



One of the local lads takes exception to you- so you have to fight him off


Finally you settle down with the Mrs for the summer…


Ever hear of this pairing before? If it all works out for the couple, Offspring could make an interesting ID challenge somewhere this autumn…


Dark Morph Montagu’s Harrier

Utter surprise

Hi Martin

dark morph Montagu's Harrier by Geoff Morgan

The rare dark morph Montagu’s Harrier by Geoff Morgan. It looks as if the underside of the primaries may be paler and the secondaries darker suggesting a  juvenile rather than adult male or female dark morph- but who would swear by it ? The dark morph is found most often in the western part of the species’ range, especially Iberia.

I have been making an effort this spring to spend a little more time birding the inland and hill areas of Lothian. It has really paid off this weekend. Not only did I find this amazing dark morph Montagu’s Harrier yesterday (3rd May 2014), but while hoping for a re-sighting today managed to find a Rough-legged Buzzard moving through!
Rough-legged Buzzard by Geoff Morgan

Rough-legged Buzzard by Geoff Morgan

Given the warm sunny conditions late yesterday morning I thought that I’d head into the Lammermuirs and have a look for raptors moving through. I had Honey Buzzard in mind, but realistically expected only to add Common Sandpiper to the year list. The Faseny area of the Lammermuirs seemed a good place to start and after only a short while I struck lucky with a distant raptor moving toward me. I struggled to identify it initially – I hadn’t seen a dark morph Monty’s before – after the first brief view I wavered between Marsh/Hen/Northern Harrier or even an unbelievably bad view of a Buzzard. After a couple of minutes wait it popped into view again and I slowly pieced together its most likely identity. In retrospect, from jizz alone it was clearly a Montagu’s (or Pallid), but this seemed a very unlikely species and an even more unlikely colour morph to be seeing in Scotland. After viewing it for about 40 minutes in flight and on the heather it moved out of view over a ridge. I then spent several hours trying to relocate it and in doing so also eventually found some mobile phone signal to put the news out.
I was unable to find it again after several hours of intensive search and that it had already moved through. Thankfully others managed to see it the next day.
Here are a couple more pics – quality is poor unfortunately…
All the best
Geoff’s blog is HERE
dark morph Montagu's Harrier by Geoff Morgan

dark morph Montagu’s Harrier by Geoff Morgan

dark morph Montagu's Harrier by Geoff Morgan

dark morph Montagu’s Harrier by Geoff Morgan