The fifth Irish national hen harrier survey will run this breeding season between late March and August. The aim of the surveys are to quantify the size and distribution of the breeding population and assess changes since the previous national surveys completed in 1998-2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015.
This survey will be coordinated by the Irish Raptor Study Group, Birdwatch Ireland, the Golden Eagle Trust and the Hen Harrier Project on behalf of the National Parks & Wildlife Service.
The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a protected raptor, listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EEC). Member States are therefore obligated to protect and conserve the species and the protected areas in which they inhabit. Six sites have been designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for breeding hen harriers in Ireland the Slieve Bloom Mountains SPA, the Stackʹs to Mullaghareirk Mountains SPA, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle SPA, the Mullaghanish to Musheramore Mountains SPA, the Slievefelim to Silvermines Mountains SPA, Slieve Beagh SPA and the Slieve Aughty Mountains SPA. See https://www.npws.ie/protected-sites/spa for more information on Irelands SPA network.
During the previous surveys in 2015 only 108 – 157 breeding pairs of hen harrier were recorded – this was lower than the estimates in 2010 of 128 – 172. The overall distribution of the confirmed breeding population across Ireland was similar to 2010 results with 62 10km squares occupied. Additional observations from these surveys can be found in “The 2015 National Survey of Breeding Hen Harrier in Ireland report” linked below.
The 2022 hen harrier surveys run from late march until August and at the time of writing there are several 10km squares across the country that are unallocated for the season. The Irish Raptor Study Group ran several training workshops in March for anyone interested in participating in this years surveys.
For more information or to register your interest and get involved in 2022 surveys visit the link below:
Learn more about surveying breeding hen harrier at the link below: