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The Hen Harrier Project is an ongoing EIP-AGRI project aiming to sustain viable Hen Harrier populations in an economically and socially sustainable model by recognising and valuing ecosystem services as an output from the farm. The project monitors the numbers of territorial Hen Harrier pairs and their breeding outcomes in each Special Protection Area (SPA) included in the project during breeding season.

The Hen Harrier Monitoring Report 2021 presents the results of more than 785 individual observations that took place in 2021, equating to over 2,268 hours of surveyor effort. The results in this report show that:

  • There were 62 confirmed breeding pairs and 7 possible breeding pairs within the SPAs, indicating a population range of 62 – 69 territorial pairs in 2021.
  • These figures are similar to the numbers of territorial pairs recorded within the SPAs since annual monitoring began in 2017 (58 -70 pairs); 2018 (53 – 68 pairs); 2019 (56 – 63 pairs); and, 2020 (58 – 62 pairs).
  • The stabilisation of territorial pair numbers in 2021 ends the year-on-year decline in numbers since monitoring began.
  • The 2021 breeding season, however, was the least productive season on record with just one third of territorial pairs in the SPAs fledging 34 young.
  • A comparison of the estimated Hen Harrier numbers in 2005 shows that the total SPA population in 2021 is 25% smaller than that recorded during designation.

The report breaks down the 2021 monitoring results and trends of each of the individual SPAs in the project; Mullaghanish to Musheramore, Slieve Aughty Mountains, Slieve Beagh, Slieve Bloom Mountains, Slievefelim to Silvermines and Stack’s to Mullaghareirk Mountains.

The report also includes analyses of Hen Harrier Population Trends within the SPA Network from 2005 to 2021, Hen Harrier Productivity within the SPA Network and Numbers of Fledged Young per Confirmed Pair in each SPA as a measure of breeding success.

The full Hen Harrier Monitoring Report 2021 can be accessed here: Hen Harrier Monitoring Report 2021.