Hen Harrier Tagging Christmas Appeal Smashes Fundraising Target in Just Eight Days Thanks to the Generosity of Supporters

Young Hen Harrier chick

A crowdfunded Christmas Appeal launched by upland wildlife conservation charity Hen Harrier Action to fund satellite tags for young Hen Harriers exceeded the ambitious £12,000 target in only eight days.

The appeal, set up by Hen Harrier Action trustee Jonathan Wilson, aimed to raise enough money to fund four tags, which will be fitted next Spring by experts from the RSPB. Since the launch, money has poured in, and more than 500 donors have so far raised over £12,900.

Wilson, a volunteer with the charity who works full-time as a Communications Specialist with an international environmental organisation, said “I am absolutely delighted by the success of our Hen Harrier Action Christmas fundraising appeal. The generous donations we have received from our supporters speak volumes about their commitment to protecting these majestic birds and ensuring that their future in the UK is secure. We are incredibly grateful for their support.”

Hen Harriers still suffer relentless persecution

Hen Harriers are Britain’s rarest, and most persecuted, bird of prey. The recently published RPSB Birdcrime Report documents the relentless scale of persecution, with 39 Hen Harriers suspected or proven to have been illegally killed across the UK. The continuing chronic levels of persecution will severely hamper the chance of any recovery for this charismatic bird.

Satellite tagging young Hen Harrier chicks on the nest, typically at around 28 days old, helps organisations like the RSPB and Natural England track and monitor the young birds as they fledge and seek out territories. The tags will continue to work for at least five years, but sadly most Hen Harriers do not live that long. A recent scientific study reports that the average life expectancy of tracked birds was just 121 days. Illegal killing is the main cause of death in birds over one year of age, and a major cause of death for younger birds.

The satellite tags will be fitted and monitored by dedicated staff at the RSPB.

Head of Investigations for the RSPB, Mark Thomas, stressed the value of the funds raised: “The donations for satellite tags are really important for us. Without satellite tags, we couldn’t track what is happening to Hen Harriers and so we are very dependent on that kind of generous support to help us monitor the birds. Tag technology is advancing all the time, and so our ability to track the birds is continually improving.”

With the funds raised from the Christmas Appeal, the RSPB team will be able to fit four additional satellite tags next Spring, and monitor the movements of the birds throughout their lifespan. Hen Harrier Action supporters will be kept informed of their movements throughout. For example, Macha (shown here) is currently roosting for the winter at Stainmore Gap, west of Barnard Castle in County Durham. We hope to bring you news of her nesting in 2024.

A young female Hen Harrier, Macha, satellite tagged in 2022
Macha, a young female Hen Harrier fitted with a satellite tag in 2022