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.

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