Thursday, 31 July 2014

An incredible season at Langholm

Well the breeding season is drawing to a close.. although no one has told the barn owls (two pairs have begun on second broods already). The great weather and high vole numbers have made for an incredible season at Langholm moor this year but birds are now beginning to move away. The diversionary feeding of the Hen Harriers is coming to an end and young harriers are beginning to disperse across the moor. Grouse counts are under way and the decision whether or not to shoot grouse this year is not far off.
 
A total of 47 young hen harriers have fledged Langholm Moor this year.. which is phenomenal ..  now comes the time when they leave the safety of Langholm and venture off on their own.  We can only watch and hope as many as possible can survive their first winter and breed next year.
 
It is also time to say goodbye to the wonderful RSPB seasonal staff, Anna McWilliams and Kirstie Hazelwood, it has been a real pleasure working with you and to the hard working MSc students Kat Fingland and Sarah Emerson  .. good luck with your write up and all the best for the future..
 

Name a Hen Harrier

Thank you to everyone  who entered our 'Name a Hen Harrier' competition, we received some wonderful suggestions. I was glad to pass on the decision to the wonderful team at the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, as there were so many great name suggestions.  
 
The chosen names are:

Female      Annie (made up of letters from her mother Grainne's name)..



Annie (Grainne's daughter)


 Male          Sid - (named after a character from the animated film Ice Age.. apparently Hen Harrier chicks up until about a week or so old look like this Sloth character called Sid), below is a short video clip.. you decide!

'Sid' male chick having his harness checked for a good, comfortable fit
 
 
 
video


Follow the Langholm Harriers

So this year we'll be following 5 satellite tagged Harriers from Langholm moor: Grainne, Hattie and Miranda (females all tagged in 2013) and Annie (female) and Sid (male) 2014.
 
Hattie and Grainne have made no major movements away from the moor, Miranda is still safe in Northern Ireland.  We'll be working with some fab folks in Ireland and Northern Ireland to bring you more detailed info on Miranda's movements http://henharrierireland.blogspot.co.uk/.
 
Annie is the offspring of Grainne; this is only the second time the satellite tagging of Hen Harriers harriers from successive generations has been done and we've been wondering whether the movements of mother and daughter would show any similarities.. One of the things I love about harriers is that they remind us again and again how unpredictable they are.  Annie has caught us on the hop and left the moor already, having flown north west just a few days ago.. 
 
24th -30th July Langholm Harrier movements

Many thanks to Stephen Murphy (Natural England) for this info.

Sid is wearing an RSPB tag and we looking forward to receiving an update on his movements soon.

The decision was taken this year to colour ring the other young harriers, so watch out for black rings with yellow text..

Harrier chicks wearing colour rings

We've enjoyed some great 'Wildlife Detective' activities this summer; including one cloudy morning  - which meant perfect conditions for the reptile refuges .. Common Toads, Common Lizards, Slow Worms, Voles, Common Shrews, Ant nests made for a very exciting morning.

Olivia investigating a Slowworm and Callum discovering a predated pheasant egg

Callum getting up close and personal with a Common Toad

We've had a month of fantastic 'Watching the moorland skies' events - great to meet lots of new folk and fantastic views of the birds:  Hen Harriers, Short Eared Owls, Merlin, Kestrel, Grouse, Curlew, Stonechat, Whinchat and Hobby to name but a few.  Yesterday evening (July 30th) was our last guided watch event this summer; Short Eared Owls, Buzzards, and Kestrels all put in an appearance but it was the first time in months I've spent time on the moor and not seen a harrier..

As we near the 'Glorious 12th' - the beginning of the Grouse shooting season in August, the press and publicity surrounding the Hen Harrier and Red Grouse moor conflict increases..
So are 'we' any closer to resolving it? I think if there was an easy solution then we wouldn't still have a problem..  Check out some of these links and decide for yourself..

 What is Hen Harrier day 2014?  http://birdersagainst.org/projects/hen-harrier-day/

RSPB are calling for Licencing of Grouse moors,  see what Martin Harper has to say -  http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/martinharper/archive/2014/06/26/our-uplands.aspx   

Download your free Grouse Shooting and Hen Harrier guide from GWCT here:  https://www.gwct.org.uk/news/news/2014/june/a-licensing-premise/

If you would like to sign the e-petition asking for the Defra Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan to be published follow this link:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67527




Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why did the furniture maker name his creations after a skylark?

no this isn't the beginning to a bad joke.. but an excuse to champion one of the project's most dedicated volunteers -   Daniel Lacey a local furniture maker and big supporter of he Making the Most of Moorlands Project has been inspired by moorland wildlife in naming his latest pieces..
Daniel is a regular volunteer for the Making the Most of Moorlands project, giving hours of his time to maintain the bird feeding station, designing and building new pheasant proof feeders, designing a bird hide, building and erecting barn owl boxes, offering up his workshop for Langholm Scouts nest box workshop and generally being a very helpful person!

Daniel designed and built this easy to clean ground feeder at our Moorland Bird feeding station - which has helped attract wonderful species like Brambling

Langholm Scout group hard at work building nest boxes for Pied flycatcher and Redstarts 

Daniel sharing his woodworking skills with the next generation

Daniel asked for some help naming his new creations;  as I know Daniel has a deep love for wildlife and the natural environment I suggested using the BTO species codes used for bird ringing..  who wouldn't love a SPOFL.. (Spotted Flycatcher), or a MEAPI (Meadow Pipit).. ? Check out some of Daniel's wonderful work below.

Daniel has offered to make a donation to the Making the Most of Moorlands project for every sale he makes.. so the education and community work we do here, will benefit from his work.. how generous!

This piece is called SKYLA - after the Skylark



BAROW - named after a barn owl

BLAGR - Black Grouse

PIEFL  - Pied Flycatcher




If you are interested in learning more about Daniel's work visit his website http://www.daniellacey.com/ or visit the CLA gamefair this weekend at Blenheim Palace.. where Daniel is exhibiting.. 18th - 20th July

We are currently working with a local jeweller and chocolatier to inspire some more moorland creations so ... watch this space.

 It is a wonderful time to visit the moor and watch the harriers and the other wonderful birds on the moor. You can safely watch and photograph the birds from the road but please remember a licence is required to approach the birds or photograph them off the road. These are very rare birds and this is an excellent opportunity to watch them at close quarters safely.
Why not drop into the Eskdale Hotel on Langholm high Street to see nest footage from one of the Harrier nests at Langholm.

 The Hen Harrier nest camera stars of 2014 have now fledged and are spending very little time in the nest.. so the Display in the Eskdale will be showing highlights from this season from incubation, hatching and growing chicks, so if you missed anything drop in and  watch the Langholm Hen Harrier story. 
 We will shortly begin sharing the movements of our satellite tagged birds here too.
  .......or join us for a Guided watch - 'Watching the Moorland Skies' -  every Wednesday evening 6pm - 8pm  in July. NY3986 , look for the Making the Most of Moorlands Banner or contact cat@langholminitiative.co.uk for more details

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Watching the Moorland Skies

An excellent evening was had by all on Langholm Moor yesterday at our 'Watching the Moorland skies' event. Beautiful sunshine and light winds made for perfect viewing conditions of a variety moorland species including a family of  Merlin; the young birds gaining confidence on the wing but still filing the air with their food begging calls.
 
We were surrounded by Short Eared Owls - with both adults and young birds active it was difficult to know which direction to look in. The harriers didn't fail us and we enjoyed wonderful views of young birds exercising their wings and pestering their parents for food.  Kestrel, Raven and an appearance by a Hobby made a lovely addition to the evening. Red Grouse broods with good sized young could be seen grazing on blueberries as they kept a wary eye out for anything that might like to make them lunch.



A young Short Eared Owl (Bob Little)

The activity in the skies was very engaging, but the invertebrate life on the ground was also drawing our attention.


Emperor Caterpillar
 


Northern Eggar Moth
 
 Two young Hen Harriers (one female and one male) have now been fitted with Satellite tags and we will follow their progress on this blog. Our competition to name a hen harrier closes tomorrow Friday 11th July.. send your name suggestions to cat@langholminitiative.co.uk or drop into the Eskdale Hotel on Langholm High Street and post your entry into the nest box.
 

 
 
  It is a wonderful time to visit the moor and watch the harriers and the other wonderful birds on the moor. You can safely watch and photograph the birds from the road but please remember a licence is required to approach the birds or photograph them off the road. These are very rare birds and this is an excellent opportunity to watch them at close quarters safely.
 
Why not drop into the Eskdale Hotel on Langholm high Street to see nest footage from one of the Harrier nests at Langholm and enter our 'Name a Hen Harrier 'competition.
 
  .......or join us for a Guided watch - 'Watching the Moorland Skies' -  every Wednesday evening 6pm - 8pm  in July. NY3986 , look for the Making the Most of Moorlands Banner or contact cat@langholminitiative.co.uk for more details

We are just a small charity and rely on donated photographs.. many thanks to Chas Moonie for these beautiful photos of Hen Harrier.