It does happen – it’s strange that we don’t hear more about Hen Harriers dying of natural causes.
The RSPB has released information on the deaths of two young Hen Harriers satellite-tagged (as chicks) this year.
Mannin failed to complete the sea crossing between the IoM and SW Scotland whereas Grayse died on the IoM a few weeks after fledging.
Mannin left the IoM on 14 August and headed towards Scotland and died en route (we can safely rule out grouse shooting as the cause) but the satellite tag continued to function and was recovered, with Mannin’s body, on the shoreline near Kirkudbright on 24 August. It’s amazing what these tags can go through and still transmit data except on grouse moors where they seem very vulnerable.
As the RSPB says:
‘Whilst the deaths of both of these birds through natural causes is disappointing, the finding of their bodies and recovery of them and their tags was straightforward. As you would expect, their transmitters continued to provide us with good location data, even after one of them had spent ten days in the sea.
This is, however, in marked contrast to the disappearance of “Calluna”, whose perfectly-functioning tag’s transmissions ended very abruptly on 12th August. Her last recorded position was on a grouse moor, a few miles north of Ballater, in the Cairngorms National Park, and her disappearance can rightly be regarded as highly suspicious.
Here’s hoping that the ten remaining birds from the Class of 2017 continue to thrive and provide us with many more positive stories. You can follow them here.’
Ten days in the sea – they should use these tags on turtles!