Circus cyaneus – Resident, but becoming scarce.
Fifty years ago the Hen Harrier was, no doubt, as Mr. Tracy describes, “common, breeds on heaths and furzy moors, pretty generally distributed over the county.” But this bird is, at the present day, but sparingly represented, and that only in the wilder parts of the county. The larger raptorial birds soon fell victims to improved sporting fire-arms, and to more general game preserving, and the Harriers in particular being quite defenceless at the breeding season, from their habit of laying their eggs upon the ground, were easily found and either trapped or shot. It is a wonder there are any remaining.
When Snipe shooting over the remoter and wilder districts in the north of the county, we have frequently come across the Hen Harrier, and have had the opportunity of shooting many in all stages of plumage had we cared to do so, but we had no desire to lend a hand in the extermination of this interesting and harmless bird. One day in the winter we saw three old males beating a part of Rhinderston Common in line, and we have known and regretted the capture of several old birds in the spring time on Cuffern Mountain. At Cuffern there is a case containing a pair of old Hen Harriers, with their young in down, from a nest found on the Cuffern estate.