Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Moorland Musical May 26th

Saturday evening of the walking festival saw the premiere of the Moorland Musical. This photo shows Bryony and Katrina rehearsing the diversionary food puppet show. The performance was filmed and can be seen on our facebook page (Making the most of Moorlands).

This photo shows the cast and crew.. huge thanks to Aly, Katrina, Beth, Bryony, Judith, Chris, Rory Henry and Nicky.

Langholm Walking Festival 2012

Wildlife Walk

We couldn't have asked for better weather (blue skies, sunshine and a slight breeze) for our moorland walk. The group started at the Buccleuch Centre in Langholm and climbed Whita Hill, using every excuse to stop and look at flowers, butterflies and birds  a good excuse to catch our breath in the heat of the day. We were met by Dr Aly McCluskie at the Castle Craigs, who talked to the group about Hen Harriers, diversionary feeding and the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project.

The breeze on the top of  Whita felt more of a gale, albeit a warm one, so the group made their way down the far side of Whita through the bible fields towards Rashiel. We were lucky enough to get very good sightings of several waders, including Lapwing and Curlew, which have settled on the ground recently cut and re-seeded as part of the restoration work on the moor. On arrival at Rashiel the group got the opportunity to talk to Head Gamekeeper Simon Lester about the moorland management.
We were also lucky enough to bump into Raptor experts Malcolm Henderson and Caroline Blackie who invited the group to join them for the ringing of a brood of barn owls.

In between processing the young barn owls are placed safely out of the way of potentially trampling feet, they sit surprisingly calmly and watch the proceedings.

Caroline and Malcolm are both very experienced with working with raptors and hold relevant permits and licences for ringing barn owls.

The group watched as the young barn owls were weighed, aged (this can be done down to the day) and sexed and even got to have their photo taken holding a chick.
 As a ringer, I was invited to ring a couple of the barn owl chicks.. many thanks Malcolm and Caroline!
 After the excitement of the barn owl ringing, the group settled down to have lunch by the river, some making the most of the limited shade.

 Whilst enjoying lunch, we discovered this impressive looking Poplar Hawk moth, which was amazingly well camouflaged on a twig.
 A scramble over a wobbly stile and bouncy suspension bridge followed by a trundle back to the Buccleuch Centre for tea and cake concluded our fabulous walk.


Langholm Primary School Afterschool Group

Youngsters from Langholm Primary after-school group have been enjoying weekly visits up onto the moor throughout April and May, discovering creatures such as palmate newts and Golden ringed dragonfly nymphs. The group has had great fun exploring the Tarras river and the ditches and puddles which held more life than anyone had expected.

This beautiful Emperor moth unexpectedly joined us in the minibus on the way home; it was released safely back on to the moor.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

May 17th

a wet, grey day but had a fantastic afternoon with Langholm Primary afterschool group..
who'd have thought you could have so much fun grubbing about in ditches at the side of the road?.. we found lots of tadpoles, toadspawn, diving beetles, cased caddisfly larvae and several palmate newts.

Friday, 11 May 2012

May 11th 2012

A group of students from Langholm Academy and Langholm Primary have been volunteering with the Making the Most of Moorlands Project  for several weeks now, working towards their John Muir Discovery Award. The group volunteer every Friday and have undertaken various moorland activities to help them reach the Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share challenges of the award.

Today the group explored the freshwater invertebrate life in the Tarras and came face to face with some weird and wonderful creatures including a Golden Ringed Dragonfly nymph (photo), Swimming Mayfly nymph and Cased Caddisfly Larvae.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Making the Most of Moorlands project recently played host to a student from Moulton College in Northamptonshire. Kate spent a week in Langholm undertaking works experience.

 This is what Kate had to say after her week in Langholm:

'I'm so glad I chose to spend a week in Langholm as it has taught me so much and has given me a wide range of experience, which has made me come home to Warwickshire feeling like a different person. I became interested to in the project when Dr Cat Barlow came to my college, Moulton College in Northampton, and gave a presentation. I was interested in the project because I take BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Countryside Management and wish to pursue my future career in conservation and ecology after going to University.
Being only seventeen and in my first year in my course at college it meant that I had not done much work experience so the experience at Langholm was fantastic because it covered a variety of tasks.
I experienced many things in the week I was there, from setting out mustelid tunnels, seeing the hen harriers, to moorland walks, ringing birds and even a wild food forage. None of which can I actually say was my favourite part as I found them all amazing and interesting.
I came home overwhelmed with information that I had learnt and I have found that I am much more confident in identifying plants, birds, mustelids and even the skeletons of some animals. I would have loved to have had longer than a week to spend at Langholm as it was outstanding experience and I would happily go back.'
Kate Howe (17 yrs, Warwickshire) Moulton College
April 15th saw Cumbrian Chef John Crouch lead a spring themed wild food forage and cooking demonstration. The group enjoyed sunny weather whilst foraging for dandelion, wood sorrel, hawthorn leaves, Ramsoms, wood sorrel and ivy-leaved toadflax for a hedgerow salad.

The group also enjoyed a Hawthorn Roulade, Fried Herrings with Garlic Mustard, Nettle and Lentil Soup and an Easter Trifle with Crystallised flowers.

April has been a great month for spotting the first young birds. Have been watching several dipper nests on the Esk and the Tarras, watching them take their first flights and steps has been amazing. The cold northerly winds has slowed progress on the moor, many smaller birds have moved to lower ground. Lapwing, Curlew, Golden Plover, Black Grouse and Red Grouse have been seen and heard displaying. A single male Hen Harrier has been displaying on the hill, but as yet he has no mate..

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