Marsh harrier tagged at Sculthorpe Moor in Norfolk flew to Portugal and Belgium

A wing-tagged marsh harrier.

A wing-tagged marsh harrier. - Credit: Archant

A bird ringed and tagged at the Hawk and Owl trust reserve near Fakenham, in July 2011, was one of more than 200 included in an initiative led by the North West Norfolk Ringing Group, sponsored by Wild About Wensum and the trust.

Ringing and tagging a bird.

Ringing and tagging a bird. - Credit: Archant

The female harrier, known as AP, was seen soon after fledging at Pensthorpe, in September of that year.

She disappeared until Christmas Day 2012, when she was seen hunting near a private aerodrome near Lisbon, Portugal – the first live tagged harrier from the UK seen in the country.

By the following April, AP had returned to Britain and was seen flying up the River Humber past Spurn Point.

Last November, AP was seen and photographed in Ploegsteert, Belgium by Michel Vanwarregham.

A tagged bird ready for release.

A tagged bird ready for release. - Credit: Archant

Phil Littler, from the North West Norfolk Ringing Group, said: 'After my family and friends, this is one of the most exciting events in my ringing career.

'This bird was one of the first I did after being trained to fit tags, it has moved thousands of kilometres and is still going strong after four years.

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'With the European longevity record being just over 20 years, AP could go on providing useful information on marsh harrier movements for many years.'

While more than 220 marsh harriers have been ringed and tagged in Norfolk, they are a secretive bird and for a large raptor they keep a very low profile.

Harrier roosts are now beginning to build up through this winter period, with good numbers being recorded at the well-watched roost sites at Stubbs Mill, Strumpshaw Fen and Cley Marshes.

Sightings of wing-tagged marsh harriers can be reported online via the Hawk and Owl Trust website.