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Have your say on Freycinet


Public comment is now invited on the Draft Freycinet Peninsula Master Plan.More

Ben Lomond recovery works update


Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) will oversee the recovery works at Ben Lomond after a recent fire destroyed essential infrastructure.More

Southwest ecological burns important for orange-bellied parrot conservation


Planned ecological burns in Southwest National Park will help regenerate important habitat areas for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot.More

Swamp Harrier Circus approximans


Swamp Harriers, also known as Marsh harriers, are a medium sized raptor reaching about 60 cm in size (raven sized) and 740g in weight. They have an owl like face mask with distinctive yellow eyes. Another distinctive feature is the white rump just prior to the tail which is long and rounded at the tip. Swamp harriers are slim of body, dark brown above and lighter underneath being more rufous in colour in the female, with long, slender, yellow legs. The wings show 5 fingers in flight and are long and broad. They are often spotted flying low and slow over marshlands with up-swept wings.


They prefer terrestrial wetlands and open country. Most of the Tasmanian Swamp Harriers migrate to the mainland in autumn and winter and may be seen travelling in small groups and roosting communally on the ground at this time.


Swamp harriers hunt by systematically gliding low to the ground or water searching for prey which they then swoop upon. They feed on birds, large insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals. They also eat eggs and in NZ they feed on carrion as well.


Swamp harriers are shy breeders and easily disturbed from their nest if approached and will abandon both eggs and young chicks. They breed during spring from September to December producing up to six eggs. Eggs are incubated for 33 days by the female and once hatched chicks remain in the nest area for another 6 weeks. The male brings food back to the female which he transfers to her in midair. They make a nest on the ground using straw and grasses. Water reeds are also an important nesting material for Swamp Harriers as they will often hide their nests amongst these above water. They often nest in crops and a program is in place in Tasmania to identify Swamp Harrier nests and identify them with flags for the farmer so they do not approach too closely and frighten off the adults.


Although usually silent they will produce a high pitched whistle in the breeding season.


Swamp Harriers occur throughout Australia and NZ and the South Pacific. They are considered secure in all mainland States and in Tasmania.