A BOWLAND-hatched hen harrier has flown over 1,000 miles to spend the winter in Portugal.

Apollo, a male hen harrier, was one of 22 chicks which successfully fledged from five nests on the United Utilities Bowland estate in summer.

The RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project fit satellite tags to the young birds to learn more about where they travelled.

James Bray, the RSPB’s Bowland project officer, said: “Each day was nerve wracking but after two long months we were really pleased to see the chicks start to fledge.

“It’s truly amazing that these young birds can make such long journeys. We were astounded by Apollo’s travel south.

“Crossing the English Channel in October, Apollo journeyed into Brittany before passing over the Bay of Biscay into Northern Spain - a journey over 400 miles long which remarkably only took him less than a day to complete.

“We are continuing to monitor Apollo and we’re excited to see whether this remarkable bird will return to his native Bowland for the summer and if we might see him sky-dancing above our hills again."

Hen Harriers are one of the most persecuted birds of prey in the UK, with independent studies showing that the main cause of the population decline in the species is illegal killing associated with moorland management for grouse shooting.

In October police said a witness claimed seeing a hen harrier being shot near Keasden.