A TOTAL of 13 hen harrier chicks have fledged this summer in the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. 

This was set up owing to the community’s £6 million purchase of more than 10,000 acres of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch Estates in Dumfriesshire. 

It was the largest-ever community buyout to take place in the south of Scotland. 

Nest cameras have been set up and one of the birds, named Charlie, was fitted with a satellite tag as part of an RSPB Scotland and Hen Harrier Action initiative to learn more about the animals. 

A spokesperson for the reserve said protecting the red-listed species – meaning they are amongst the rarest birds in the UK – was an important aim and the reserve would help transform the species fortunes. 

READ MORE: Tarras Valley Nature Reserve: Buyout success biggest-ever for south of Scotland

They said: “Langholm Moor is a place where people can be inspired by wild nature as they watch hen harriers skydancing above the dramatic hills of a former grouse moor.

“The success of our community land buyout, and the resulting creation of our nature reserve, means we have the opportunity to play a role in transforming the fortunes of this species and many others too.

“Ensuring a haven and a better future for hen harriers is an important part of what we are setting out to achieve. 

“We’ve already had a successful year, with 13 hen harrier chicks fledging.”

The spokesperson added that it was “really inspiring” to see the birds doing well.

They continued: “Charlie is part of this exciting satellite tagging project, which will help build knowledge and understanding about the lives of these amazing but much-persecuted birds and the challenges they face. 

“We are looking forward to being able to follow his journeys as he moves out into the world.”

The National: Aurora has also been fitted with a satellite tag - Image Credit: RSPBAurora has also been fitted with a satellite tag - Image Credit: RSPB

Charlie was one of three chicks in different parts of Scotland and the north of England fitted with a tag as part of the project which came about thanks to an £11,000 public crowdfunding campaign.

Hen harriers are legally protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 although the species remains one of the most persecuted birds of prey and the population remains dangerously low. 

Chair of Hen Harrier Action, Dr Cathleen Thomas, said: “I’m incredibly grateful to all the members of the public who donated to our crowdfunder and allowed us to purchase these tags, as well as the raptor workers and taggers who monitored the birds and fitted the tags.

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“I’m really excited to see where our birds go as they make their way out into the world.”

The most recent survey showed that there were just 460 pairs of hen harriers in Scotland, less than a third of the number the country could support. 

The Tarras Valley Nature reserve was established on March 26, 2021, after the local community, led by the Langholm Initiative charity, raised an initial £3.8m to buy 5200 acres from Buccleuch Estates. 

This month it was announced that a further £2.2m had been raised to purchase an extra 5300 acres from Buccleuch.