A Hen Harrier that hatched in Snowdonia in 2019 and returned here to nest last year, is spending her second successive winter in the Navarra region of northern Spain. Nicknamed ‘Bomber’ (as her leg-ring was inscribed ‘B2’), she is part of an RSPB scheme that uses GPS satellite tags to track the birds’ movements. This has found around 10% of British-bred harriers migrate across the Channel in winter. A previous study by Natural England shows that Hen Harriers are ten times more likely to die or disappear on moorland managed for grouse-shooting than other land-uses.
Bomber’s return to the same Spanish valley, after flying over 1000 miles in just two weeks, has coincided with heavy snowfall and the lowest temperatures for 20 years. Last year, she didn’t return to Wales until May, so the team will be watching the data closely to see when she begins her journey north this spring.
There's more about Bomber, and the equally surprising travels of 'Apollo' from Lancashire's Forest of Bowland on the RSPB blog.
Technology has also been deployed by the BTO on Greenland White-fronted Geese wintering on Anglesey. Several have been fitted with GPS tags that send data to local base-stations, enabling their use of the island’s wetlands to be studied. Local birdwatchers have been asked to report any sightings of neck-collared geese via greenlandwhitefront.org.
Last week’s cold weather brought an increase in Woodcock sightings, including several in gardens. Snow Buntings remained at Holyhead’s Soldier’s Point, Kinmel Bay and the Great Orme, Black Redstarts at Amlwch and Beaumaris, and Water Pipit and Firecrest near Glanwydden. Great Northern Divers were on Llyn Tegid and off the Little Orme, and Amlwch Port’s Rose-coloured Starling was resighted after a week’s absence. A Cattle Egret remains on a flooded field near Valley. As the weather warmed on Monday, a Peregrine took a surprise mid-afternoon meal over Llandudno when a bat woke early from hibernation.