Monday, 30 June 2014

First young Harriers seen on the wing

This season is flying by.. is seems only days ago that the harriers were skydancing overhead signalling the beginning of an incredible season ; this weekend the first 2014 harrier chicks at Langholm have been seen taking their first tentative flights. 
  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 for more details

 check out these wonderful images of Hattie and her male taking diversionary food from the feed posts. Many thanks to the LMDP staff for allowing us to share these images.


Hattie's male

Thursday, 26 June 2014

First LMDP wing tagged harrier seen back at Langholm

There has been a sprinkling, rather than a flood, of wing tag sightings of Langholm Hen Harriers in the last few years but each and every sighting is exciting. Until a week or so ago, none have been seen back on their home ground but just recently a wing tagged adult male harrier was seen at Langholm. The bird was tagged by Aly McCluskie in 2011 and I was lucky enough to be there to see this brood tagged. The left wing tag (yellow) indicates that the bird was tagged at Langholm, the right wing tag (dark blue) indicates the year the bird was tagged 2011 and the number 1 tells us exactly which bird in the brood it was. The bird was seen twice in the day and the sighting of the right wing was very distant so I have only just received confirmation of the year this bird was tagged (many thanks to all involved). This is the first Hen Harrier, wing-tagged during the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project (2007 - present) that has been seen back at Langholm.  We have no idea what this bird has been up to since he fledged the moor but it great to know he is alive and kicking (so to speak)..
 click on each image to see it enlarged.. (these views were distant so forgive the image quality).

Right wing tag indicates the year (2011) John Wright

 the left wing tag Yellow - indicates Langholm John Wright


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What a year at Langholm

This year is turning out to be one of those years I have only dreamt of being part of.. sleep is becoming one of those things that needs to be done but feels like wasted time away form the moor. With eleven Hen Harrier nests it is rare to visit the moor and not see a harrier. The harrier action  is just one aspect of what seems to be a great season for wildlife on the moor; visitors to the moor have enjoyed  incredible views of Short Eared Owls (now feeding fledged young) Red Grouse broods meandering their way through heather and blaeberry; Whinchat singing from what feels like every bracken patch, bumper Barn owl broods, and an increase in wader sightings.
Hen Harriers have experienced a difficult past ( o say the least) and while we are enjoying this wonderful season at Langholm and celebrating the success of three nests in England this year, Harriers still face a very uncertain future. There are various theories being suggested as to why harriers are doing so well at Langholm this year - maybe the high vole numbers, maybe the mild winter leading to better overwinter survival of young birds, maybe a combination of these and other factors. Whatever the reason, 45+ young harriers fledging from Langholm this year can only help the struggling UK population.
The March grouse counts showed favourable results   but it is too early to say whether that has translated into good breeding success and enough grouse to shoot this year - one of the aims of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project.

Name a Hen Harrier

Last year 2013/2014 thousands of people followed the progress of four satellite tagged Hen Harriers Hattie, Grainne, Blue and Miranda from Langholm moor on our project blog.  This summer two or three young harriers will be tagged by Stephen Murphy of Natural England and we’ll follow their progress on our blog.

 To make it easier to follow these wonderful birds, we are inviting you to take part in a competition to name this years tagged Harriers.
 In 2013 four young harriers were tagged and named by local volunteers
Hattie - inspired by the harrier featured in our moorland musical
Grainne  - Celtic for Grace..
Blue    - named after the Scottish name for a male Hen Harrier ' Blue gled'
Miranda - named by Langholm local Explorer Scout Group after comedienne Miranda Hart

What would your name suggestion be?

Email your Hen Harrier name suggestion, your own name and contact details to  or drop into the Eskdale Hotel on Langholm High Street where our nest cameras are showing footage from one of the Langholm Hen Harrier nests 11am – 11pm; you can post your name suggestion and details into out 'nest box'. The fantastic team of staff and volunteers at Langholm who have helped to monitor and protect the harriers this year will choose which names will be given to the tagged harriers this year.
One chick has already been tagged – one of Grainne’s (Celtic for Grace) chicks – so we’ll be following both mother and daughter this year. We’ll need names for both male and female chicks so get thinking.

 To find out more about our project visit our website, project blog  or follow us on Facebook and Twitter Langholmmoorland. For information about the scientific work going on at Langholm visit The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project website .

If you would like help on where and how to watch Hen Harriers and other incredible moorland wildlife at Langholm safely get in touch with Cat Barlow for information about guided walks and guided watches.  Hen Harriers and other raptors on the moor have legal protection from disturbance so it is important to be careful where you go but you can watch and photograph from the roadside without needing a licence. Hen Harriers, Red Grouse and most other moorland birds are ground nesting, it is vital to keep your dogs on leads on and around moorlands at this time of year.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Meanwhile our nest camera brood are growing fast


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Second generation Hen Harrier satellite tagged

Stephen Murphy of Natural England visited Langholm moor on 19th June to fit a satellite tag to a female harrier chick. The chick was from Grainne's nest a female Hen Harrier tagged at Langholm last year - so the second generation of tagged birds at Langholm. This new tag will hopefully give us some interesting information about how a mother and daughter interact after leaving the nest.  As soon as the chicks fledge the nest - updates will be available as usual on the this blog. Hopefully a second tag  will be fitted in the coming days.

second generation tagged chick

Monday, 16 June 2014

June 2014 Hen Harrier nest camera

Footage from our Hen Harrier nest camera is being shown in the Eskdale Hotel on  Langholm High street, why not pop in for tea and cake or sit back and enjoy a pint while watching the chicks in the nest.  Here is a taster of the views we have been enjoying.  It is such a privilege to work with such a wonderful bird and a fantastic team of people on the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project.

 One Hen Harrier brood, belonging to Grainne - a satellite tagged bird from Langholm last year has been ringed already and the chicks not long away from fledging..

Nest boxes around the moorland have been busy this year with Pied Flycatcher and Redstart broods as well as our more common Blue Tit and Great Tit families.

Redstart nest

Redstart chick

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

June 2014

Wow, what an amazing few weeks on the moor, we've enjoyed mixed weather  - some days of glorious sunshine interspersed with cold winds and torrential rain showers..

Firstly an update on the Harriers - well it is turning out to be an amazing year at Langholm and I hear there is positive news south of the border too (check out the Skydancer Blog). At Langholm moor there are eight active Hen Harrier nests, Seven of which have already hatched or are in the process of hatching - including the sat tagged 2cy females Hattie and Grainne.

Grainne's nest

We have our nest cameras in on an adult female nesting at Langholm and have managed to capture some incredible footage of incubation, hatching and early feeds. The footage is being shown at The Eskdale Hotel on Langholm High Street - drop in anytime between 11am and 11pm to watch as the chicks hatch and grow. Video clips will also be posted shortly here on the blog and on our facebook page.
 It will be worth watching Springwatch  this evening -11th Wednesday June -  footage shot earlier in the season of Hattie skydancing with her male will be shown - hopefully raising the profile of the beautiful Hen Harrier and prompting some discussion about the future of Hen Harrier conservation.

These wonderful composite images taken by David Palmar show some of the wonderful patterns the harriers draw in the sky as they dance.
Composite image of Male Hen Harrier skydancing (David Palmar

Composite image of a food pass between a pair of Hen Harriers (David Palmar)

David Palmar

I've mentioned before that vole numbers are high at Langholm at the moment and everything is making the most of them including the Harriers. Barn owls broods in the area are between four and seven which is incredible, and will hopefully help the population recover from a couple of bad winters in previous years.

Barn owl brood of 7

oldest and youngest in the brood 

The Short eared owl action is fantastic, adults are seen very regularly and sometimes several in the air at the same time, it is hard to know which direction to look in sometimes.  We are making the most of these wonderful views and ringing any chicks we can find.

Short Eared Owl (John Wright)

Short Eared Owl (John Wright)

Short Eared Owl fledged chick waiting to be fed (John Wright)

Short Eared Owl chick well hidden in the vegetation

Short Eared Owl chick

If you are interested in visiting Langholm moor to watch the wonderful Hen Harriers and other fantastic wildlife, please get in touch with  Making the Most of Moorlands project manager Cat Barlow  .

All the nest visits and ringing is done by experienced fieldworkers under licence.