Marsh Harrier Red B7

By Ray Gribble
While on the WVBS field trip on 29th September to Breydon Water and RSPB Strumpshaw Reserve a wing-tagged Marsh Harrier was spotted. Fortunately, Emily managed to photograph the bird so the tag could be read as B7 on a red background thus enabling its history to be checked:-
Ringed on 18th July as a female nestling at Belton Marshes and subsequently reported in 2019 at Titchwell on 5th February, Quarles on 3rd March, near Burgh Castle on 24th March then Strumpshaw on 29th September. Incidentally, its sibling, another female, ringed at the same time, was reported in Portugal on 7th November 2018.
Until 2011 when wing tagging of Marsh Harriers started in Norfolk we knew little about their movements. We knew they moved away from the breeding areas during the winter but little else. It was then that Phil Littler in conjunction with Hawk and Owl Trust was trained to apply the wing tags, a very skilled operation that only a handful of British ringers are permitted to perform. Since then we have learnt that post-fledging Marsh Harriers disperse in all directions reaching as far as Norway to the north, Eire to the west and on the Continent to Germany, Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain and even Lanzarote in the Canary Isles. Dispersal has been shown to be random. Some birds have been shown to return to their breeding areas to breed nearby, while others have fairly certainly bred miles away.
This shows the value which can be gained from ringing and wing tagging and the part we birdwatchers can all add by reporting sightings as has been so well demonstrated by Emily.

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