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

Monday, 19 June 2017

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Fantastic afternoon at MTAF!!

Had a great afternoon at the Muckle Toon Adventure Festival yesterday - the weather was magnificent and we had a great Stream Dipping session followed by a tent talk about local wildlife and they even let me sing a few songs!! Huge thanks to Dawn and all the organisers for putting in an enormous amount of effort to ensure that, once again, the festival was a massive success!! Well Done Guys and thanks for inviting me along! - Rick

Making the Most of Moorlands - Update

Lizards on the Mistle Thrush menu!

Just an interesting picture of a Mistle Thrush carrying a Common Lizard - hadn't seen this before. Also found a Spotted Flycatcher on 4 eggs last week - Rick

Mistle Thrush with Common Lizard

Spotted Flycatcher on 4 eggs

Making the Most of Moorlands - Update

Owls doing well 


Here are some pictures of the three most common Owl species on the Moor; Barn, Tawny and Short-eared. All have bred on the Hill this season, making good use of the high vole numbers, with the Barn Owls being particularly successful with a total of 25 young successfully fledged so far - Rick

Barn Owl

Tawny Owl

Short-eared Owl (Photo courtesy of Bryan Benn)

Young Barn Owl

Young Tawny Owls

Young Short-eared Owls

Cathy's last day

Making the Most of Moorlands: Update

Cathy's Last Day

It's my last day as Seasonal Education Assistant here at the Making the Most of Moorlands Project. I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me / the project over the past 6 months especially the young people, their parents and teachers at our local schools - it's been great getting to know you all!

Much fun has been had with the John Muir Award, Learning Base, Nature Clubs and School visits as you can see below

And Thank You to everyone for supporting the Moorland Team during our Moorland May events, Cathy

Friday, 26 May 2017

Moorland May Music Festival THIS WEEKEND!

The sun is shining and the stages are set for what is going to be a FANTASTIC weekend of live music and arts here in Langholm.

The Open Air Market will be bustling at the marketplace as well as various Spring Fling venues showcasing the hottest artistic talent AND it's our very own Moorland May MUSIC FESTIVAL!

Woodturning Storyteller Rolf Buwert will be at / around the Welcome to Langholm shop between 1030am - 3pm  - Come and see him and let your little ones be enthralled by the history of Haggis Hunting in Scotland!

And join us this evening and tomorrow all day for a series of live performances - see programme below:

See you there! Cathy

Nature Clubs Update!

Hi Everyone - it's been a busy few weeks here at the Making the Most of Moorlands Project with 3 new Nature Clubs kicking off at the local primary schools of Langholm, Canonbie and Hottsbridge.

Please enjoy the photos below which show a little of what we have been up to so far!

The 3 different groups have taken part in a variety of different activities including stream dipping, owl pellet dissection, bird cake making and natural art! More to come, watch this space......Cathy

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Making the Most of Moorlands - Moorland May Update


Full festival listings at this link - It's going to be a Merry Old May-time!!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Fun had at 1st Canonbie Nature Club Session

13 brave youngsters joined us in the freezing cold and sleet on Monday for the first session of our new Nature Club. They were tasked with dissecting owl pellets and making displays of what they found. They also toped up the bird feeders and introduced themselves to the friendly pheasants!

More fun to be had for the next session on the 8th -  looking forward to it! Cathy

Friday, 21 April 2017

Making the Most of Moorlands - A long over-due update!!

News from 'The Hill'

Firstly, allow me  to apologise for the lack of updates recently. Things have been a bit manic but that's no excuse! So here's a summary of the last few months. 

Wildlife Update: 

Breeding started early in the raptors as a promising vole year spurred a Barn Owl into action, incubating a clutch of four eggs on March 10th! Hen harriers are back in good numbers with latest estimates as high as 9 pairs. Sky-dancing has been regular and some fantastic displays have been observed. Merlins are making everything aware of their presence by cuffing up anything that enters their territory good numbers of Black grouse have been observed at various Lek sites around the Moor. 

Spring Migrants have been steadily arriving, the first of which was a singing Chiffchaff at Longwood. Species and rough dates as follows:

Chiffchaff - 27.3.2017

Wheatear: 31.3.2017

Sand Martin: 1.4.2017

Willow Warbler: 7.4.2017

Swallow: 10.4.2017

Pied Flycatcher: 20.4.2017

Common Sandpiper: 20.4.2017

Good numbers of Curlew on the moor and more Lapwings than last year also.

Wheatear 31.3.2017

Common Sandpiper 20.4.2017

Pied Flycatcher 20.4.2017


Education Update: 

Lots going on with school groups at the moment. 40 S1students are working towards their John Muir Discovery Award, Lewis and Kain from Langholm Learning Base our helping out every Tuesday and Ryan Kennedy is volunteering for a full day every Monday. 

John Muir Group 2017

Lewis and Kain

Ryan putting up a trail camera for Barn Owls


The Duke of Edinburgh Volunteers have busy with litter picks and other activities through the winter racking up hours towards their Silver Award - Thanks for all your help Guys!!

Lydia and Mathew

Photography Workshop:

Two senior students from Langholm Academy have been creating a portfolio of Moorland related photography - the results of which will be displayed during the Moorland May Festival 2017.

Easter Events:

Seasonal Education Assistant Cathy Hooper has been running a series of very successful holiday activities over Easter. Lots of youngsters headed out onto the moor for a wide variety of fun filled sessions from Bird watching and Bushcraft to Stream Dipping. Everyone had a jolly nice time!!

A slug on the nose!!

Wee water beasties.... and Leo