ON Wednesdays in January, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is hosting raptor roost watches, a chance for the public to take part in dusk walks on the lookout for kestrels, merlins, short-eared owls, marsh harriers and even the elusive hen harrier, one of the most endangered birds of prey in the UK.
The walks, which start at 2.30 or 3pm, are a unique opportunity to spot birds of prey soaring through the sky using laser-sharp precision in search of food and shelter.
Ellie Sunderland, RSPB Arne visitor experience manager, says: “Join us in a search for one of RSPB Arne’s winter spectacles! We’ll head out for a two-hour sunset walk looking out for raptors coming in to roost and hunt on Arne Moors, an area that isn’t usually open to members of the public.
“Hen harriers breed on the upland heather moorlands of Wales, Northern England and Scotland, where unfortunately, they are often persecuted due to feeding on grouse and fowl. But, in winter they move south to areas like the lowland heathland surrounding Arne, which luckily is a safe haven.
“The marshland habitat on the Arne Moors hosts a fantastic food source for all these birds and is also home to lots of winter wading birds. Birds of prey are among our most spectacular and well-known birds offering magnificent displays, even in the depths of winter. So, fingers crossed we’ll get a chance to see it!”
Book at https://arneraptorroosts.eventbrite.co.uk and for more information on the RSPB Arne reserve, visit www.rspb.org.uk/arne
Pictured: Buzzard; photograph by Les Bunyan