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 http://www.langholmproject.com/ 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.