Hen harriers return to estate

A male hen harrier chick has been satellite tagged at Mar Lodge Estate
A male hen harrier chick has been satellite tagged at Mar Lodge Estate

National Trust for Scotland officials are hailing the successful breeding of hen harriers on Deeside.

Four chicks have been produced for the first time in living memory on NTS’s Mar Lodge Estate.

It’s really exciting to see these birds returning to the estate for the first time in living memory

David Frew Mar Lodge Estate

One male has been satellite tagged as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project.

The hen harrier was on the point of extinction in Upper Deeside during the Victoria era but though numbers have recovered, the species remains under threat.

Mar Lodge Estate property manager David Frew said: “It is fantastic news and really exciting to see these birds returning to the estate for the first time in living memory.

“We have worked hard to create an environment where raptors can thrive, and it is great to see that our approach to management is paying off.”

He added: “The estate is heavily used by visitors to the Cairngorms and we work hard to balance conservation, field sports and visitor access and enjoyment.

“The presence of raptors, and particularly the return of hen harriers, demonstrates that these objectives can all be balanced given the right conditions. It is tremendously exciting to see these birds here once again.”

Will Boyd-Wallis, of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “We very much hope that the careful management undertaken by the National Trust for Scotland alongside other estates in the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership and in the wider National Park will lead to many more pairs successfully returning to the area.

“ t is also very good that through the LIFE fund, one of the chicks has been satellite tagged.”

An online poll is running to name the tagged chick. For more details visit www.nts.org.uk/marlodgeestate.

Mar Lodge Estate is also home to many other iconic and rare raptor species, including merlins, peregrines, and four pairs of golden eagles.

The news comes as NTS also announced its most successful year so far for its osprey nest at Threave Estate in Dumfries and Galloway, which has produced four chicks this year.