Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus


The largest of the harriers, it can be recognised by its long tail and light flight with wings held in a shallow 'V'. It is distinguishable from other harriers by its larger size, heavier build, broader wings and absence of white on the rump. The adult male is largely brown with grey on the wings and tail. Females are larger than males and have obvious creamy heads and cream forewings. Juveniles also have creamy head.

Identification difficulty

Seen over reed beds and marshes, as well as farmland near wetlands.

When to see it

Birds are back in their breeding areas by April and leave in September and October.

Seen on passage in VC55 from February to October

Life History

Feeds on small birds and mammals.

UK Status

Mainly found in eastern and south-east England, with some in the north-west, south-west and Scotland. Its future in the UK is now more secure than at any time during the last century but historical declines and subsequent recovery means it is an Amber List species.

VC55 Status

Uncommon passage migrant in Leicestershire & Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map