Monday, 17 July 2017

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Close Encounters - 13.7.2017

Our second Close Encounters session started well with eight children enjoying a Close Encounter with 'Wiggly-Bob' who had so much fun on Tuesday he returned to my trap again on Thursday morning! A dip in the Esk proved worthwhile with BIG MINNOWS, stone loach and a toad-pole (a toad tadpole) being discovered and painted onto pebbles (with pebble pens - we didn't make a paste!). We also very much enjoyed the huge stone butterfly near the suspension bridge which was created by the Langholm Primary Play Care after-school group - Well Done Guys! - After a close encounter with a House Sparrow nest at Buccleuch Mill it was off to Longwood where an assortment of insects including Scorpion flies, Ringlet butterflies, Soldier beetles, Forest Shield-bugs and a variety of other wee beasties that are yet to be identified were encountered as well as a Sparrowhawk plucking post. We also found two old Blackbird nests, a squirrel drey and watched some sea trout below Skippers Bridge before heading back along the river. A lovely session with a lovely group! - Thanks to each of you for coming along - Rick and John

Meeting 'Wiggly-Bob'

Stone loach
After many a Close Encounter!!

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Close Encounters Sessions - 11th July 2017

Had a great day on the moor with Freya, Ruby and Jake on the 11th, looking for "Close Encounters" with the local wildlife. We started off by meeting a young Wood Mouse (named 'Wiggly-Bob by the girls) then caught some Minnows in the Esk before heading up to the Laverock Hide for some "Close Encounters of the Bird Kind". We met Cat up there who was busy ringing birds the feeding station and we watched as she processed Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Sparrow and Siskin among others.

After lunch we checked out the pond at the hide and encountered Palmate Newts and tadpoles before meeting slow worms and toads under the reptile refuges. We also saw four different types of butterfly - Ringlet (which Freya caught and released without harm), Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. On the way back we caught Grasshoppers and found a caterpillar (which will be ID'd soon). All in all a fantastic day with some fantastic song people!! - Rick and John

Ruby and a palmate newt

The girls get to grips with a grasshopper


A close encounter with a slug!

Jake, Ruby and Freya

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Two Hobby's on the Moor - 10.7.17

Two Hobby's have been seen fairly regularly on County March, on the fence and posts of the old grouse butts by the Scottish Border sign on the way to Newcastleton. Keep an eye out if you're passing that way. Thanks to Hannah Greetham for the photo - Rick


Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Guided Watch - 10.7.2017

Well, as usual, the morning of the Guided Watch dawned with mist, rain, low cloud and a thoroughly unpleasant outlook! This being said I was joined by a great young lad, Jake who is a very keen wildlife watcher and we enjoyed some great sightings of a Hen Harrier food pass, young Merlin stretching their new flight muscles, Kestrel, Cuckoo, Stonechats, a vole and the ever-present Red Grouse. After dropping Jake off I was treated to some great views of Short eared Owl and a Barn Owl  at Cronksbank (Sorry Jake!) - Rick

Barn Owl at Cronksbank

Short eared Owl


Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

'Ratch in the River' - 4.7.2017

Well the first SUMMER activity kicked off today - not very summery but 8 young folk braved the weather to explore beneath the surface of the River Esk. Despite the unpleasant conditions we managed to find a few nymphs and other wee beasties but with water levels rising we opted for an impromptu den building session followed by a quick look in the Wauchope. A massive well done to the group who despite being fairly wet and miserable stuck it out and were rewarded with a well-earned hot chocolate at the Langholm Initiative office - Hopefully the sun will shine next time Guys!! - Rick and John

Soggy but still smiling!

Maybe not!....

Ratching in the River

Who's wetter; this nymph or us?

Exploring the Esk

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Moor Tour - 26.6.2017

Had a lovely afternoon on the Hill with a chap called Gary Crow, an ex-RSPB employee from Dalbeattie and Langholm lass Ceara (who is off working with Leopards in South Africa as I post this!), enjoying the weather and the wildlife. Gary was keen to see our Harriers and Merlin and both species put on quite a show with the former treating us to stunning views of a food-pass over Muckle Knowe. Ceara joined us for her second session on the moor and is working on Bird ID as part of her Zoology degree at Aberdeen University. 

Other sightings included Stonechat, Whinchat, two Stoats, great views of a Jay and young Great spotted woodpeckers at the Laverock Hide as well as a slow worm and a toad under the reptile refuges. Gary said he very much enjoyed his trip and described the area as 'a paradise'. Thanks to Gary and Ceara for their interest in the project and hope to see you both again soon! - Rick

Gary and Ceara on the Hill

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Pied Flycatchers had a successful season

The last of our Pied Flycatchers fledged last week bringing the total of successful nests to 7 with at least 30 chicks being successfully reared in project nest boxes - Very nice! - Thanks to John Hills for his monitoring work - Rick

A male Pied Flycatcher perched beside a nest box at Rashiel