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East Anglia's rarest raptors fitted with satellite tags

A close-up of Rowan, a Montagu's harrier. Photo: RSPB

Three of the UK's rarest birds of prey - which nest in East Anglia - have been fitted with satellite tracking devices.

The RSPB said three Montagu's harriers had been fitted with the trackers this month, in an effort to learn more about them.

So far this year there have only been seven recorded nesting attempts of Montagu's harriers - and three of them were in East Anglia.

A Montagu's harrier is released after being tagged. Credit: RSPB

Researchers from the Dutch “Montagu’s Harrier Foundation”, together with conservationists from the RSPB, fitted one male and two female Montagu’s harriers with the lightweight tracking devices, which will last for the lifetime of the birds and relay real time location data back to the team.

Mark Thomas, who leads on Montagu’s harrier conservation work for the RSPB, said: “This is an exciting and important application of satellite tracking technology that will help us to monitor their movements and locate their feeding areas to understand more about these harriers’ not just here in the UK, but in their wintering grounds in Africa and on their migratory journey in between.”

The birds tagged by researchers this year have been named Rowan, Rose and Roger.

A Montagu's harrier is fitted with a tag. Credit: RSPB

Earlier this summer, the RSPB opened a public hotline for people to report their sightings of Montagu’s harriers here in the UK.

“We’ve had dozens of reported sightings over the summer,” said Mark Thomas, “and one of them even lead to the discovery of a previously unknown pair, which is brilliant and shows what a valuable tool it is.”

Any possible sightings of Montagu’s harrier can be reported to the hotline on 01767 693398 or emailed to wildlife@rspb.org.uk.

At the end of the summer, when Rowan, Rose, Roger and the other satellite tagged Montagu’s harriers leave on the autumn migration, people will be able to follow their progress via a satellite tracking map on the RSPB website.