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Don Scott

Don Scott


I have scientifically studied the breeding ecology and diet of the Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), in Northern Ireland since 1986 and also in the UK and Europe. In 1991, I discovered this species tree nesting, on the boles and side-branches of deformed Sitka Spruce trees, with nests ranging in height from 2-13m high. Evidence found below the 1991 nest suggested that the same site was occupied in 1990. To date N.Ireland remains the only country throughout the Hen Harrier's vast European range where this occurs annually. Harriers here also utilise the vacated tree nests during the winter months and roost occasionally in the tops of tall conifers due to poor ground cover and to avoid predation from numerous Red Foxes. I have now personally studied 15 of the worlds 16 species, plus the one recognised subspecies - harterti, in either their breeding or wintering grounds. In April 2007, I am hoping to visit Papua New Guinea, where the final species and little known Papuan Harrier resides, with fellow harrier colleague Rob Simmons, from South Africa. This species will hopefully conclude my book on Harriers, which I am working on at present. I have written or co-written over 40-papers on raptors, mainly harriers, and also lecture to birding groups throughout Ireland the UK and even Europe. I also visit schools of all ages with my captive bred Owls, to stress to children of all ages the importance and conservation of birds of prey in N.Ireland and elsewhere.In September 2001, I gained a degree in Biology from the Institute of Biology in London from my long-term studies of the Hen Harrier in N.Ireland. In January 2007, I was made a Research Associate, in the School of Biological Sciences, in Queen's University, Belfast.

Independent researcher
6, Grangewood Lane.  
Dundonald.,  Co. Down.  BT16. 1GH.  Northern Ireland
Phone: 02890- 418847.
Email: theowlman46@hotmail.com

   Research Interests

Harriers of the world!

Species of Interest: 
  • Circus cinereus
  • Circus aeruginosus
  • Circus approximans
  • Circus assimilis
  • Circus buffoni
  • Circus cyaneus
  • Circus hudsonius
  • Circus macrourus
  • Circus maillardi
  • Circus maurus
  • Circus melanoleucus
  • Circus pygargus
  • Circus ranivorus
  • Circus spilonotus


Clarke, R., V. Prakash, W.S. Clark, N. Ramesh, and D. Scott. 1998. World record count of roosting harriers Circus in Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar, Gujarat, North-west India. Forktail 14:70-71.

Clarke, R., and D. Scott. 1994. Breeding season diet of the Merlin in Country Antrim. Irish Birds 5:205-206.

Clarke, R., and D. Scott. 2000. Record-breaking Indian harrier winter roost numbers fall after drought. Peregrine 72:9.

Scott, D. 1991/92. Winter roosts of Hen Harriers in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1992:69-71.

Scott, D. 1992. Hen Harriers breeding in a tree nest. Irish Birding News 2:64-65.

Scott, D. 1993. Hen Harriers tree nest again in 1993. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1993:69-71.

Scott, D. 1993. Tree nesting Hen Harriers in Northern Ireland. Falconers and Raptor Conservation Magazine Summer:16-17.

Scott, D. 1994. First records of tree roosting by Hen Harriers. Northern Ireland Bird Report 84-89.

Scott, D. 1996. Records of albinism in Ireland's Hen Harrier population. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1996:101-106.

Scott, D. 1997. Short-eared Owl breeding in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1997:108-110.

Scott, D. 1997. Hen Harrier records from Copeland Bird Observatory. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1997:111-115.

Scott, D. 1998. The ecology of a Hen Harrier winter roost. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1998:105-116.

Scott, D. 1999. Goshawk breeding in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1999:114-119.

Scott, D. 1999. A comparison of the status of the Marsh Harrier in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Peregrine 7:475-481.

Scott, D. 1999. Influx of Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers into Northern Ireland during 1999. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1999:120-127.

Scott, D. 2000. The uplands of Antrim -- a moorland habitat under threat from humans; and the implications for ground nesting raptors and other species. Northern Ireland Bird Report 2000:98-101.

Scott, D. 2000. Marking a decade of tree nesting by Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Northern Ireland, 1991-2000. Irish Birds 6:586-589.

Scott, D. 2006. Tree-nesting behaviour by a polyandrous female Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus. Irish Birds 8:139-141.

Scott, D., and R. Clarke. 1993. (Abstract) Tree nesting Hen Harriers in Northern Ireland. Program of the First European Meeting of the Raptor Research Foundation, University of Kent at Canterbury, England.

Scott, D., and R. Clarke. 1995. The Marsh Harrier in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Bird Report 1995:82-87.

Scott, D., and R. Clarke. 1993. Taking to the trees. Bird Watching 1993:6-7.

Scott, D., R. Clarke, and P. McHaffie. 1992. Hen Harriers successfully breeding in a tree nest of their own construction. Irish Birds 4:566-570.

Scott, D., R. Clarke, and C.R. Shawyer. 1991. Hen Harriers breeding in a tree nest. Irish Birds 4:413-417.

Scott, D., R. Clarke., and C. Shawyer. 1994. Tree-nesting Hen Harriers -- evolution in the making? Raptor 21:53-56.

Scott, D., and P. McHaffie. 2001. The demise of a Hen Harrier roost site. Northern Ireland Bird Report 2001:107-110.

Scott, D., and P. McHaffie. 2002. Attempted nesting of the Red Kite in Northern Ireland during 2002. Irish Birds 7:131-132.

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