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By CHRIS HILL, Rural affairs correspondent
Thursday, January 24, 2013
An adventurous young marsh harrier which was fitted with wing tags after leaving its Norfolk nest been spotted near Lisbon in Portugal.
The bird was tagged as part of a study by conservation charity the Hawk and Owl Trust and the North West Norfolk Ringing Group to monitor the movements of rare marsh harriers.
Throughout 2011 and 2012, 56 birds from across Norfolk were fitted with a lime green identity tag on each wing, featuring an individual combination of two letters, or one letter and one number.
Although some have been reported in other parts of the UK, the marsh harrier spotted near Lisbon is the first international traveller.
Phil Littler, a Hawk and Owl Trust volunteer and member of the North West Norfolk Ringing Group, said: “This reported sighting is really exciting as it is the first bird tagged in Norfolk that has been seen abroad.
“We are hoping for more reports so that we can build up a picture of where these rare birds go once they leave their nests and whether they return to East Anglia once they are ready to breed.”
The fitting of the wing tags is done by experienced bird ringers, and is a painless experience for the birds.
The project is being funded through donations made by visitors to the 2007 Wild About the Wensum event hosted by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.
Five of the birds were tagged at the Hawk and Owl Trust’s flagship nature reserve at Sculthorpe Moor, near Fakenham,
The public can help the study by reporting sightings of wing-tagged marsh harriers. The letters and numbers on the wing tag should be noted, if visible, along with the date, time and location (ideally a six-figure Ordnance Survey map reference). The gender and age of the bird should also be recorded, if known.
An electronic report form can be completed at www.hawkandowl.org.