Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosos)

OK! OK! This is not a good photograph, but the circumstance surrounding it are truly amazing in my view.

This is a photograph of one of the United Kingdom's rarest birds of prey, certainly as a breeding species. But that is not all; this photograph was taken in the middle of one of Dorset's largest towns, Weymouth. And that is not all; a pair of Marsh Harriers now breed in the middle of this large town!

Take a minute to think about that; this is actually one of the most surprising and encouraging successes for bird conservation in recent times. No breed and release scheme here. This is down to planning and careful habitat management to create the right conditions for this bird to thrive. I may be wrong, but the last time this was truly successful was probably in the 1980's at Minsmere and the recolonisation of our eastern marshland by the Avocet.

Both projects were the result of expert and excellent work by the RSPB and next, possibly this year, may be we well have Bitterns breeding in the middle of Weymouth too; how remarkable would that be?

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