Orkney Birds of Prey

Hen-harrier:  this is Orkney's most common bird of prey, with currently some 80 breeding females.  The females outnumber males by about 3:1 and so they have a polygamous breeding system with each male having a harem of several females.  While males are a pale grey colour, females and immatures are brown with a white rump and a long, barred tail which give them the name 'ringtail'. They fly with wings held in a shallow 'V', gliding low in search of food.  Elsewhere in Britain, hen harriers are illegally persecuted by gamekeeping interests who claim that they take too many grouse.  In Orkney we are fortunate that there is no driven grouse shooting and our hen harriers are left to breed in peace.

Short-eared owl:  also known as cattie faces, this is the only nesting owl in Orkney.  Breeding pairs have been found on Eday, Hoy, the mainland, Rousay, Sanday, South Ronaldsay and Stronsay.  The highest number are on the mainland and they are regularly seen around the airport in Tankerness.  You won’t see them much in mid-winter (because they become more nocturnal) but they start to show around February through till October.  Probably about 50 pairs nest in the islands.  Their main prey is the Orkney vole, this small mammal making up as much as 90% of the food of many of our owls.

Orkney Birds of Prey photos from flickr
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
hen harrier
Low Cloud over Cottascarth, Orkney
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) 01 Jul-13-40506
Hen Harrier
Sparrowhawk or Hen Harrier?
Hen harrier
stephen o'neill - @birdsofprey_uk @wildlife_uk @BaobabJ @RSPBWeymouth I seen a hen harrier today here at my work in Orkney
Google News
Row over raptor persecution claim
"For example, the data we do have from the Victorian era suggests very clearly that the hen harrier had been driven back to Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. It was not found anywhere on estates in the Scottish mainland up to at least the 1930s. "Today ...
BBC News