RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Keep your eyes peeled for marsh harrier

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Last week I saw a marsh harrier in the meadows and reedbeds of Thorney Island’s Little Deeps, so it is worth keeping an eye open for this large raptor during this week’s walk, along the seawall.

Females have a long brown tail and body, but their head and chin are creamy white.

The wings have whiter patches, too. The males have grey tails and wing patches.

About the size of a buzzard but with a very different, low flight, the marsh harrier also has longer, more ragged wings.

There are about 5,000 pairs in north-west Europe, 200 of these in Britain, breeding mainly in East Anglia, but also the Somerset Levels.

Harriers take small birds and mammals.

They are becoming a conservation success story, mainly because of the successful management of habitats by the RSPB.