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Marsh Harrier Wing Tagging Project

A7 at Minsmere 2013 Bryan JanMarsh Harrier, tagged 'A7' spotted at Minsmere in 2013. The tags are highly visible, and the number/letter combination easy to read. Photo by Bryan Jan

Wing tagging Marsh Harriers in East Anglia

The idea for this project is to discover if 'our' breeding harriers dispersed into mainland Europe for the winter, and that those seen around East Anglia in the winter were migrants from Northern Europe and Scandinavia from where the current British re-population is thought to have originated from. The first birds were tagged at Sculthorpe Moor in June 2011 and now about 100 birds are tagged from nests all over Norfolk in a 10-year project.

The wing tagging, using bright green tags on the fore-edge of the wings and two clear letters/numbers, allows the birds to be individually identified without need for recapture. Tags are visible to the naked eye from a distance, and the individual codes can be read with binoculars or telescopes. The re-sighting rate is running at a staggering 32%, very high for this kind of project and well above the hoped for 10% rate.

So far we have learnt that whilst some young birds disperse widely, with reports coming in from Scotland, Wales, Portugal, Norway, Germany, Belgium the Netherlands, Eire, Spain and even one bird in Senegal, what has come as a surprise is that many of the birds do not go far at all.

Many of the birds tagged are now themselves breeding and have proven another thing that they tend to nest in the same habitat in which they were raised. The habitat that they nest in is also quite varied and includes freshwater reed beds, tidal reed beds, agricultural crops such as Oil-seed Rape and Barley, nettles and scrub.

We are hopeful we will continue to receive sightings for many years to come, revealing new insights into these wonderful birds.

If you have observed a Marsh Harrier with a GREEN wing tag ANYWHERE please complete the form below:

Marsh Harrier Sighting Report Form

Please Remember | We're looking for sightings where the bird has a GREEN tag for this project - thankyou.

No of Sightings:*
Date of first observation:*

Please drag the marker to the location the sighting was made

Sighting location
Could you reads the ID tag?*
Colour of tag and colour of letters/numbers*
Tag ID Code*
Your Contact Details
Name:*
Address:*
Phone:*
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E-mail:*

Our Promise | Your email address will ONLY be used if we need to follow up on the information given about a sighting AND/OR if you tick the box below for more information.

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