Wednesday, 30 May 2012

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.



  1. The comments from the walkers after were just great and the Barn Owl chicks were a real hit.

  2. looks interesting - do you have anything like this coming up?

  3. Hello Catherine, we do have a fwe events coming up. Details can be found on our website events page and we have a guided walk as part of the Muckle Toon Adventure Festival which took over from the walking festival . Dawn moorland walk to looka nd listen for moorland birds. Booking on MTAF website hope to see you along at one of our events.