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For IRISH LANDS an image and a story by Seaside/Gearhart naturalist, biologist and photographer Neal Maine.


Image titled: Flight Master.

Northern Harrier, photographed on Del Ray Beach, Gearhart, Oregon by Neal Maine/PacificLight Nature Images. March 2017.

Proceeds in support of NCLC, North Coast Land Conservancy.
For more than 30 years, North Coast Land Conservancy has been preserving Oregon’s vital coastal landscapes.
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Flight Master, latest Neal Maine image, of a Northern Harrier, truly, has a story connection to Ireland.

On March 4th at Fairweather’s, photographer/ biologist/ naturalist Neal Maine spoke about the local ecology and specifically about his latest image, found within steps from our own back yards, along the coastal edge.

Please visit tab artists/ Neal Maine to view the catalog of images available from PacificLight Nature Images.

To some extent, experiencing Ireland and the Irish, is being part philosopher.

Irish people “seem to dance to the tune of their muse, and in doing so have preserved for us traditional prose, skills, and art that beach back to the beginning of time and are a tribute to humankind’s unfailing ingenuity.” –Muriel Gahane



About Northern Harriers.

North America has only one variety, the Northern Harrier, a raptor. Harriers are very distinctive hawks, long-winged and long-tailed, usually seen quartering low over the ground in open country. At close range, the face of our Northern Harrier looks rather like that of an owl; like an owl (and unlike most other hawks) it may rely on its keen hearing to help it locate prey as it courses low over the fields.

Often nests in loose colonies; one male may have two or more mates. In courtship, male flies up and then dives, repeatedly, in a roller-coaster pattern. Nest site is on ground in dense field or salt march or wetlands, sometimes low over shallow water. Nest built mostly by female, with male supplying some material. Nest may be shallow depression lined with grass, or platform of sticks, grass, weeds.

The Northern Harrier is distinctive from a long distance away: a slim, long-tailed hawk gliding low over a marsh or grassland, holding its wings in a V-shape and sporting a white patch at the base of its tail. Up close it has an owlish face that helps it hear mice and voles beneath the vegetation. Each gray-and-white male may mate with several females, which are larger and brown. These unusual raptors have a broad distribution across North America, Ireland and Eurasia.

The hen harrier or northern harrier is a bird of prey. The genus name Circus is derived from Ancient Greek kirkos, meaning “circle”, referring to a bird of prey named for its circling flight.  For more info please visit


Q: Are there harriers in Ireland, as well,  you ask?

A: Yes, in Ireland, Northern Harriers, previously called Hen-Harriers, were persecuted almost to extinction in the nineteenth century, but spread due to the planting of forestry plantations which offered suitable habitat and safety while the trees were still young. Overgrazing of uplands and the loss of semi-natural habitats are threats to the harrier across its range. In Ireland, while there is less anxiety about persecution, the condition of the harriers’ upland breeding grounds is the main concern.

Hen harriers in Ireland are specially protected under the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985
There are designated SPAs for Hen Harriers in Northern Ireland
Forest Service, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group and RSPB, are developing procedures designed to prevent disturbance and destruction of nests in forests under their control


Fun Facts:

The Northern Harrier is also called Hen Harrier and Marsh Hawk.
The silvery grey male Northern Harrier has been nicknamed the Grey Ghost.
Northern Harriers are the only hawk-like bird known to practice polygyny – one male mates with several females.
The Northern Harrier is capable of considerable, sustained, horizontal speed in pursuit of prey. Speeds of 38 mph have been reported
The common name, Harrier, is from the Old English word “herigan” which means to harass or plunder.
Unusual among hawks, Northern Harriers use their sense of hearing to help locate prey. They have an owl-like facial disk to help with directional hearing and soft feathers for a quieter flight.
A group of harriers is called a “swarm” and a “harassment” of harriers.


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