Harrier triumphs

A RARE bird has enjoyed a record year at a Suffolk nature reserve.The rare marsh harrier has had its most successful breeding season ever at Minsmere RSPB Nature Reserve, on the Suffolk coast, producing 28 young fledglings.

A RARE bird has enjoyed a record year at a Suffolk nature reserve.

The rare marsh harrier has had its most successful breeding season ever at Minsmere RSPB Nature Reserve, on the Suffolk coast, producing 28 young fledglings.

The chicks took to the wing after eight nesting females at the reserve flourished in the ideal conditions, with the combination of good weather and an abundance of food.

It resulted in the nests producing more fledglings than normal.


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As a result of the successful breeding season, the skies above Minsmere are full of the graceful birds of prey as they quarter the reedbed for food.

RSPB Wetland Warden Ian Hawkins said: "This is yet another indication of the success of the reedbed management work undertaken at Minsmere. It is a fantastic sight to see so many marsh harriers at Minsmere."

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After crashing to a low in 1971, when Minsmere had the only pair in the UK, marsh harriers have recovered to about 160 pairs in the UK this year. About 20% of these are found in Suffolk, with Minsmere remaining one of the best sites in the country to see them.

Marsh harriers declined during the 1960s due to the effects of DDT-type chemicals, which affected many birds of prey. Their subsequent recovery has been largely due to management of reedbed nature reserves, where most breed.

The recent increase to 160 pairs in the UK means that marsh harriers have been moved from the red-list of Birds of Conservation Concern – for those with the highest concern – to the amber-list.

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