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BIRDS OF PREY IN CUMBRIA

Recent years have seen an improvement in the fortunes of birds of prey in Cumbria after disastrous times in the 1960's and 1970's. By the mid-1970's Peregrines were so rare that 24-hour watches were mounted during the breeding season; now, numbers have probably reached the limit that can be supported. Merlins have also recovered, Buzzards have expanded their range and both Osprey and Honey Buzzard have started and continued to breed in the last few years. However, Hen Harriers continue to give cause for concern due to persecution and the Lake District's famous Golden Eagle pair have not successfully fledged young for several years.

BUZZARD
Habitat: wooded valleys with open ground
Status: increasing, common
Where: almost every part of the county
Winter: resident
Notes: from below, plumage varied light and dark.
GOLDEN EAGLE
Habitat: mountains
Status: one unsuccessful breeding pair
Where: Haweswater
Winter: disperses
Notes: new male in 2002 may improve prospects; lack of carrion may hinder breeding success.
GOSHAWK
Habitat: coniferous and old deciduous woodland
Status: about 10 sites occupied
Where: north-east Cumbria
Winter: resident
Notes: illegally persecuted; habitat may also be felled
HEN HARRIER
Habitat: moorland
Status: a few pairs only
Where: Geltsdale
Winter: Walney, Duddon, Solway, Bassenthwaite
Notes: heavy persecution on shooting estates leads to poor breeding success


Male Sparrowhawk
digiscoped photo reproduced by kind permission of Andy Bright
www.digiscopingUKbirds.co.uk
HONEY BUZZARD
Habitat: deciduous woodland
Status: probably two or three breeding pairs
Where: L. D. National Park
Winter: tropical Africa
Notes: needs bee and wasp nests!; paler beneath, longer head and tail barring help to distinguish from Buzzard
KESTREL
Habitat: open areas, often urban
Status: common
Where: countywide, but less common in Eden Valley and central Lakes area
Winter: resident
Notes: nest in old crow nests, tree holes, cliff ledges and on tall buildings
MERLIN
Habitat: moorland
Status: recovering; c.50 breeding pairs
Where: Pennines, Lakes High Fells
Winter: on coast - Walney, Solway
Notes: ground nesting, smallest falcon, prey taken in level flight
OSPREY
Habitat: pine/spruce forest near lakes
Status: possibly three pairs
Where: Bassenthwaite area
Winter: tropical Africa
Notes: passage birds to and from Scotland also recorded; spectacular dives into water for fish.
PEREGRINE
Habitat: cliffs both coastal and inland
Status: c. 90 occupied territories
Where: west and south of county especially
Winter: resident
Notes: unpopular with pigeons; may be declining slightly again.
SPARROWHAWK
Habitat: woodland, large gardens
Status: stable and common
Where: countywide
Winter: resident
Notes: secretive woodland species increasingly seen at bird feeders (as farmland birds decline?)

HOBBY: occasional records of passage birds; could it begin to breed here soon?

MARSH HARRIER: occasional records of passage birds. Leighton Moss birds sometimes hunt over the salt marsh at Grange and Arnside.

RED KITE: how long will it be before the Yorkshire birds discover the delights of Cumbria? In 2010 captive bred birds were released in Grizedale Forest between (Conistonwater and Windermere); more will follow in future years to establish breeding here.

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD: rare winter visitor.