Belfast Telegraph

Bird watcher on a high after spotting rare marsh harrier in Northern Ireland

Marsh harrier spotted at the top end of Larne Lough
Marsh harrier spotted at the top end of Larne Lough
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

An eagle-eyed bird watcher has spoken of his joy at glimpsing a bird of prey rarely seen in Northern Ireland.

Cameron Moore (68), from Whitehead, Co Antrim, spotted the majestic sight of a marsh harrier in flight on the banks of Larne Lough on Sunday.

"I stopped on Sunday morning and luckily managed to get a couple of photos," he said. "I noticed it had green wing tags which tells you it was from the Norfolk area.

"There is a chance of seeing one or two of them here at this time of year but it's unusual to see one that came that far."

Mr Moore said his fascination for bird watching began in school, earning him the nickname 'birdman' from classmates.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the bird is the largest of the harriers.

Usually spotted flying low over reedbeds and grazing marshes, its wingspan (typically 115-130cm) is raised in a prominent and characteristic 'V' shape.

Although only an occasional sight in Northern Ireland, it has become one of the great success stories of conservation in Great Britain having once become extinct in the UK.

Today there are estimated to be around 400 breeding pairs in the UK, with most found in eastern and south-east England and parts of Scotland.

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