Monday, 26 November 2012

Latest news on Blae

Back in September we posted the news that the young female Hen Harrier from this year’s nest at Langholm had died. The satellite tag data allowed the carcass to be located and recovered.  A post-mortem showed no evidence of shot and no visible injuries. The bird was very thin, suggesting starvation as the most likely cause of death. 
As a precautionary measure the carcass was sent for further tests. We have heard today that the toxicology results were negative for the commonly-abused pesticides.The body was not found on grouse moor and there was no evidence of human persecution.
 It is very rare to recover a Hen Harrier carcass, the last post regarding Barry's demise October 10th 2012, describes a more common scenario, no carcass, no tag, no evidence of his cause of death.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Wildife Photography Worshop

Laurie Campbell visited Langholm to present an evening of his photographical work at the Buccleuch Centre at the end of October and very kindly offered to run a photography workshop for the young people of Langholm. The weather was not kind to us, but the group learnt a great deal from Laurie including that rain and low light levels don't necessarily mean  no photographic opportunities. Who knew oak leaves could look so beautiful? The group made the most of the autumn colours and had a great afternoon learning about macro, landscape shots and learning how to use the different camera settings. Thank you Laurie!

Laurie Campbell showing Sophie Mitchell how to use a tripod to improve a shot.

My attempt at an arty oak leaf.. the children's attempts were much better!

Salmon and birds

Salmon are found both in the Esk (which runs through Langholm) and the Tarras (which runs through the middle of the moor) and October is a good month to see them heading upriver to spawn. This photo was taken up in Selkirk by photographer John Wright, check out John's blog for more photos of Salmon leaping.

The end of 'Summer' and arrival of Autuimn has seen the departure of many moorland birds and the arrival of autumn visitors like Fieldfare, Redwing, Waxwing and Brambling. The moorland feeding station is getting good numbers of Autumn visitors and a good place to spot Brambling, Lesser Redpoll and Treesparrow.
 Great Spotted Woodpecker
 Regular contributor of feeding atation photographs Tom Hutton
Our newest photographic contributor Sandy Gill setting up his remote camera.

Many thanks to amateur photographers Tom Hutton and Sandy Gill for these great shots.

November 2012

Apologies for lack of posts, have been laid low with pretty much every virus going, but back on track now and enjoying autumn on and around the moor.

'You can't let nature Run Wild' 

Firstly some news of the fantastic group of folk involved in our moorland musical. The performance at the Watson Bird Festival on Saturday 22nd at St John's Town of Dalry was a great success. The Moorland Musical - 'You can't let nature run wild' is a project exploring the difficult subject of Hen Harriers and Red Grouse through music and poetry involving a group of young people and local musicians and poets. The aim of this project is to raise awareness about about the Harrier/ Grouse conflict and reach audiences who we'd normally not reach. A second performance at the Lockerbie Jazz Festival did just that - an audience of Jazz enthusiasts were treated to songs from the musical 'jazzed up' a little. I got a few raised eyebrows when describing the 'Grouse free diet' song- all about diversionary feeding.

many thanks to all:
Cast and crew:
Aly McCluskie    (Songwriter and musician, musical director)
Rory McLeod   (Songwriter and musician)
Fiona Russell      (Poet and vocals)
Henry Jeffrey    (Trombone player & dept musical director)
Katrina Edmund   (Vocals and Ukulele)
Beth Smith       (Vocals)
Bryony Graham    (Vocals)
Nicky Henderson  (Vocals and electric guitar)
Glen Cavers  (Vocals and very useful person)
Judith Johnson (Production)
Chris Jones (Production)
Paula Keane (Puppet maker)

 Rehearsing at St John's Town of Dalry Town Hall
 Attending some of the Hen Harrier lectures - part of the Watson Bird Festival
 Rehearsing with Jazz musicians Laura McDonald and David Berkman
Taking a moment from rehearsing to try a bit of 'dog charming'..

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


 The sun is shining here in Langholm, which is an incredibly rare and usually heart warming occurance, but today my heart is heavy. Sadly and all too predictably Barry (the young male hen harrier fledged from Langholm this year) has has gone the way of so many others.
Barry’s last fix was transmitted on the 2nd of October, although he was seen on the morning of 4th of October, when he was observed coming out of a roost by a raptor worker. His tag was due to transmit on the evening of the 4th, and his previous transmissions were always regular. There was no transmission then or subsequently. At this stage, we have to presume that he is dead, and it is very unlikely that there has been any transmitter failure. Most of his previous movements were associated with grouse moors. The police have been kept informed and the search for the carcass is underway and ongoing. 

We are still awaiting toxicology reports from the female Harrier Blae.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Harrier sightings

It is nice to be able to offer some good news about the Langholm Harriers and today I can. Firstly, one of the wing-tagged birds (a cock bird) from 2010 was spotted near Moniaive (North west of Dumfries) recently. This is fantastic news, as records of wing tagged birds are few and far between.

Barry, the satellite tagged bird from the 2012 nest has been giving us readings from various locations in the Durham hills over the last few weeks ( I am awaiting latest map data). On the 4th October  Barry was seen hunting on moorland / woodland edge.

No news yet on Blae's postmortem results.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Latest news form Barry's satellite tag

The young male Hen Harrier (Barry) that fledged from the nest at Langholm this year is still in the Durham  hills around frosterly and Middleton-in-Teesdale.We'll keep the updates coming.. watch this space.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Latest Satellite Tag update 25.09.2012 

In last week's update, Barry showed a movement south and we all hoped he was moving away from the Durham / Yorkshire hills to safer ground. Barry's foray down to Wales appears to have been  a day trip and he has spent most of the last week back on the moors of North Yorkshire, Lanchashire and Durham.  The red line off to the north west Atlantic appears to be a blip in the data, so ignore this.

As you will have noticed, it has been a week or so since I have posted any data from Blae, the young female from Langholm. Sadly Blae's signal indicated that she had died south of Edinburgh about two weeks ago, her carcass was recovered and is undergoing a postmortem. Unfortunately, at this time I am unable to give any more information. As soon as I have more details I will post them here. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Latest Satellite Tag updates

The young male Hen Harrier, Barry, has been spending most of his time in County Durham this last week. His most recent fixes show he has moved south towards Blackpool, could this be the beginning of a move further south, perhaps following in McPedro's footsteps to Spain?


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Small Mammal Trapping with Newcastleton Primary School

Over the last few weeks I've been visiting Newcastleton Primary School to lead some moorland activities linked to a fantastic moorland mural that we created last year with the help of local artist Anne Donald.

 This week we were looking at the food chains of the moorland raptors and their favourite food - small mammals such as voles and mice. The pupils helped check some Longworth mammal traps and investigate how small mammals survive on the moor.

A wood mouse.

It has been a  busy week of rehearsals for the next performance of the moorland musical 'You can't let nature run wild'. We'll be performing at the Watson Bird festival on Saturday 22nd at St John's Town of Dalry .. check it out.. great event, worth a visit. Our Moorland musical explores the difficult relationship between managed moor;ands and Hen Harriers through music and poetry (and puppets).. that has to be a world first!??? I'd like to thank an amazing group of people

Some photos from rehearsals (with thanks to Chris Jones). Impossible to get the whole group together at once, but here is some of the group braving the cold winds to have some photos taken up at MacDiarmid memorial on Langholm moor.
 Rehearsal at our teeny tiny office.

 Henry doing very well to keep playing despite a camera in his face! a true professional.
 the most important member of the group, Cricket.. casting a discerning eye and ear over the proceedings.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Latest Sat tag news

Barry (the young male harrier) is on the move.. headed south towards County Durham. This is his first major move away form Langholm Moor..

 The female (Blae) has moved north rather than south. The first winter is a difficult time for all birds, and Hen Harriers face more dangers than most,we are really hoping these birds survive their first winter and return to breed next year.

 Friday evening saw Langholm Beavers work towards their environment badge by helping to manage birch saplings encroaching on Langholm moor. The Beavers and their parents were great, everyone worked hard and had fun despite the weather. This was a great opportunity for the youngsters to learn about the different plants that grow on the moor, and how the moor is managed by man to benefit the Red Grouse and other wildlife’.

Langholm Moor Demonstration Project headkeeper, Simon Lester, commented: ‘It’s fantastic to get children and their parents out on the moor, to work on this fascinating habitat. The silver birch is encroaching on to the moor now that the sheep have been removed to help heather regeneration. It just shows how quickly nature moves and highlights the importance of management.’

On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed a great afternoon up on the moor with storyteller Bea Ferguson. Bea used the MacDairmid Memorial to inspire her stories as we relaxed in the (almost) sunshine.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Latest Satellite Tag update


 These images show the movements of the two tagged Langholm Hen Harriers - Barry and Blae over the last week. NO major chanegs, both young birds making local movements. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Barry's latest movements

Blae's latest movenents


Friday, 24 August 2012

Latest update of sat tags


These images show the movements of the two tagged Langholm Hen Harriers - Barry and Blae over the last week. Both young birds are sticking fairly close to their natal site. Click on the images to enlarge them.
Barry (young male)

Blae (young female)

If you'd like more information about this project, please visit the facebook page or project website 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

First data from Satellite tagged young Hen Harriers

Just before fledging, two of the young Hen Harriers from the Langholm moor nest were fitted with satellite tags by Stephen Murphy of Natural England and Aly McCluskie RSPB. We will be following the progress of the birds as they  leave the nest and struggle to survive their first winter. These images show the first tentative movements of Barry (94588), after Barry O'Donaghue of Hen Harrier Ireland project, and Blae (74926).. as in blaeberry. Thank you so much to Steve and Aly for allowing us access to this fantastic information.. Good luck Barry and Blae.. Check out Barry's blog for Hen Harrier Ireland to see the difficulties faced by birds across the sea .

Thursday, 26 July 2012

New kids on the block


It has been a strange season, with a very late Hen harrier nest and wet weather, but we've finally got the new nest cameras installed and this is the very first footage we have. The four chicks are growing fast, the oldest is now two and a half weeks old. this video shows the female dropping in to the nest to feed her chicks.

This video, just a few moments after the last clip, shows the female brigning in nest material (heather). The female will continue to add and improve the nest up until the chicks leave the nest.
We hope to do a bit of 'gardening' and trim the heather to improve the view, so keep checkign the blog and facebook page for new footage.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

July 11th Langholm Playcare

Plan B.. because of the inclement weather we decided to stay indoor this morning for a session at Langholm Playcare.. the children created some fantastic artwork of minibeasts and a moorland scene and a river.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Dumfries & Galloway 'host' the Highland Show


This year it was Dumfries & Galloway's turn to 'host' the Highland Show at Ingleston, Edinburgh. I went along to represent the Making the Most of Moorlands Project and Langholm as part of the Wild Seasons group - highlighting wildlife across the region. Here are a few photos taken by Helen @ Cream O' Galloway.

 As you can see, it was a rather wet four days.

 painting activity
The Wild Seasons squirrel, drawing visitors into our tent.. and having a bit of fun along the way!

 The Wild Seasons squirrel having a go at some of the activities on offer...

 Mud, mud, glorious mud!

The Making the Most of Moorlands corner of the Hoghland show 2012.
 Lucy Hadley of the Forestry Commission showing some visitors the Wild Seasons map of the region.