Hen harriers thriving in nature reserve after community buyout

One of the UK's rarest birds of prey, the hen harrier, is thriving in a new nature reserve established last year from southern Scotland's biggest ever community buyout.

A total of 13 hen harrier chicks fledged this summer in the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve set up thanks to the local community's £6 million purchase of over 10,000 acres of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch Estates.

Nest cameras have been set up and one of the young birds, named Charlie, was recently fitted with a satellite tag as part of an RSPB Scotland and Hen Harrier Action initiative to learn more about the birds.

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A spokesperson for Tarras Valley Nature Reserve said that protecting the red listed species was an important aim and the haven would help to transform the species fortunes.

Charlie was recently fitted with a satellite tag as part of an RSPB Scotland and Hen Harrier Action initiative to learn more about the birds
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They said: "Langholm Moor is a place where people can be inspired by wild nature as they watch hen harriers skydancing above the dramatic hills of a former grouse moor.

"The success of our community land buyout, and the resulting creation of our nature reserve, means we have the opportunity to play a role in transforming the fortunes of this species and many others too.

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"Ensuring a haven and a better future for hen harriers is an important part of what we are setting out to achieve. We’ve already had a successful year, with 13 hen harrier chicks fledging.

"That was really inspiring, and it’s wonderful that now one of these chicks, Charlie, is part of this exciting satellite tagging project, which will help build knowledge and understanding about the lives of these amazing but much-persecuted birds and the challenges they face.

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"We are looking forward to being able to follow his journeys as he moves out into the world."

Charlie was one of three chicks in different parts of Scotland and the north of England fitted with satellite tags as part of the project, which was the result of an £11,000 public crowdfunding campaign.

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Dr Cathleen Thomas, Chair of Hen Harrier Action, said "I’m incredibly grateful to all the members of the public who donated to our crowdfunder and allowed us to purchase these tags, as well as the raptor workers and taggers who monitored the birds and fitted the tags.

"I’m really excited to see where our birds go as they make their way out into the world."

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Hen harriers are legally protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, the species is one of the most persecuted birds of prey in the UK and the population remains perilously low.

The most recent survey revealed there were just 460 pairs in Scotland, less than a third of the number Scotland could support.

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The Tarras Valley Nature reserve was established on 26 March 2021 after the local community, led by the Langholm Initiative charity, raised an initial £3.8million to buy 5200 acres from Buccleuch Estates.

This month it was announced that a further £2.2 million had been raised to purchase an additional 5300 acres from Buccleuch.

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