Marsh harrier by Nick Appleton 1/9
Marsh harrier by Lawrie Webb 2/9
Male marsh harrier by Elizabeth Dack 3/9
Male marsh harrier by Paul Taylor 4/9
Female marsh harrier by Nick Goodrum 5/9
Marsh harrier by Elizabeth Dack 6/9
Female marsh harrier by Tabs Taberham 7/9
Marsh harrier by Geoff Tibbenham 8/9
Marsh harriers displaying by Elizabeth Dack 9/9

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus

This impressive bird of prey is the largest and broadest-winged of the harriers. It is likely to be spotted flying low over reedbeds and grazing marshes, with the wings raised in the prominent and characteristic 'V' shape.

Conservation status

The marsh harrier is one of the great success stories of recent times in Norfolk and lowland England. In the early 19th Century they were abundant in Norfolk and throughout East Anglia. However, by the latter part of the century they had become extinct in the UK through habitat loss and persecution. Marsh harriers bred sporadically in the Broads, and occasionally at other sites, from 1927 to 1975. Since then the number of nests in the county has risen steadily. In 1982 the first UK nest of marsh harriers in an arable field was recorded in Norfolk and this habitat has been regularly used by the species ever since. Today more than 100 females nest in Norfolk each year. In winter more than 100 individuals may be seen at roosts around the county.

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Did you know?

In the early 19th Century marsh harriers were so common in Norfolk that the ornithologist Lubbock referred to them as Norfolk Hawks.

During summer males may be seen passing food items - often rats - to their females which deftly catch them in mid-air.

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