Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Miranda in Mayo

Apologies for the delay in posts, severe internet broadband problems here..

Miranda is continuing her interesting journey and is currently in Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. This map shows her estimated route over the last four months.

Miranda 5th July to 21st November 2013

Miranda 21st November
 Homely Hattie and Grainne are static in comparison with Miranda but just as interesting from an ecological perspective. What has got into Miranda that has not (yet) got into her sister Grainne and neighbour Hattie?
Hattie and Grainne 10 day home range to 20th November 2013
 Take a look at these two graphs (and especially the scale on the y axis) Hattie has barely been 8km from the nest but Miranda is now around 500km away.
Hattie and Grainne maximum distance (km) from nest over time

Miranda maximum distance (km) from nest over time

many thanks to Stephen Murphy NE for all this information.

Our fabulous friends in treland are keping a close eye on Miranda as well as their own tagged bird Heather, check out Hen Harrier Ireland http://henharrierireland.blogspot.co.uk/ for more information

Monday, 25 November 2013

we are having serious internet/broadband problems, will get HH update as soon as possible
we are having serious internet/broadband problems, will get HH update as soon as possible

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

D&G Rural Award Healthier Scotland Winners!!!!!!

I am so pleased to announce that the Making the Most of Moorlands project has won a D&G LEADER Rural Award 2011-2013. We were short-listed for the Healthier Scotland category back in the spring and welcomed judge Amanda Byrne to Langholm in June. Amanda met some of our fabulous project volunteers and was treated to a few snippets from the moorland musical including 'Grouse free diet'. On the evening of 15th November I attended the awards ceremony in Dumfries with project volunteer David Dickson and was delighted for the project to be named winner of its category. We are also featured in the Good Practice Guide which is distributed across Europe. Thank you so much to all our project volunteers and project partners and funders, this award is a reflection of all your enthusiasm and hard work and support.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Scotland Small?

I was asked to speak to the Langholm Archaeology group on Wednesday evening about the biodiversity found on Whita - the well known hill on the east side of Langholm town maybe best known for its monument. 

Whita hill and monument as seen from Moricambe Bay on the Solway, Cumbria.
At first  I worried that I would struggle to find enough to speak about but - being used to working with moorland and its marginal biodiversity in general, but when I sat down and began to make a list of species I had seen on Whita alone it was vast.  

I was sent this lovely poem by Hugh MacDiarmid which I think sums up Whita beautifully.

Scotland Small?

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner
To a fool who cries 'Nothing but heather' where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing round
Sees not only the heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet
Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
Within living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green, and pink; sundew and butterwort
Waiting with wide-open sticky leaves for their tiny winged prey;
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them;
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour.
'Nothing but heather!' - How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!

-- Hugh MacDiarmid

Green Tiger Beetle (Laurie Campbell)

Adder (Laurie Campbell)

Ladies bedstraw and Wild Thyme (Laurie Campbell)

Lousewort (Laurie Campbell)

Stonechat (Laurie Campbell)

Male Hen Harrier skydancing (John Wright)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Miranda's movements are proving a real joy to follow.  In stark contrast to her sister Grainne, Miranda is exploring and covering considerable distances. After enjoying the delights of Co. Antrim and Co. Down Miranda is now back in Co Donegal.
Miranda soaring the skies of Co. Donegal
 many thanks to Daniel Maloney for this picture.

Miranda the day she was fitted with her tag at Langholm

Grainne and Hattie have not moved from their favoured patch on Langholm moor and we've been lucky enough to get some lovely views of them hunting . There are still good numbers of meadow pipits and reed bunting about, maybe  - when colder weather hits and the small birds move on Grainne and Hattie will follow, who knows?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Hen Harrier update 5th November

Miranda is continuing her tour of Northern Ireland and is currently between Belfast and Strangford Loch. In the last ten days Miranda has moved around 251km.

Grainne 10 day range to 5th November 2013
Grainne is contrast to her sister is not moving far from her home range.

Hattie 10 day range to 5th November 2013

Hattie has seemingly found rich pickings as her home range is contracting and she has become more predictable, mirroring Grainne’s home range. They roost close to each other and on several occasions in recent days both were tracked synchronously in the same “airspace”.  
If a bird stays within a certain area for say several days it is safe to assume that catchable prey is available.