Thursday, 31 July 2014

An incredible season at Langholm

Well the breeding season is drawing to a close.. although no one has told the barn owls (two pairs have begun on second broods already). The great weather and high vole numbers have made for an incredible season at Langholm moor this year but birds are now beginning to move away. The diversionary feeding of the Hen Harriers is coming to an end and young harriers are beginning to disperse across the moor. Grouse counts are under way and the decision whether or not to shoot grouse this year is not far off.
A total of 47 young hen harriers have fledged Langholm Moor this year.. which is phenomenal ..  now comes the time when they leave the safety of Langholm and venture off on their own.  We can only watch and hope as many as possible can survive their first winter and breed next year.
It is also time to say goodbye to the wonderful RSPB seasonal staff, Anna McWilliams and Kirstie Hazelwood, it has been a real pleasure working with you and to the hard working MSc students Kat Fingland and Sarah Emerson  .. good luck with your write up and all the best for the future..

Name a Hen Harrier

Thank you to everyone  who entered our 'Name a Hen Harrier' competition, we received some wonderful suggestions. I was glad to pass on the decision to the wonderful team at the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, as there were so many great name suggestions.  
The chosen names are:

Female      Annie (made up of letters from her mother Grainne's name)..

Annie (Grainne's daughter)

 Male          Sid - (named after a character from the animated film Ice Age.. apparently Hen Harrier chicks up until about a week or so old look like this Sloth character called Sid), below is a short video clip.. you decide!

'Sid' male chick having his harness checked for a good, comfortable fit

Follow the Langholm Harriers

So this year we'll be following 5 satellite tagged Harriers from Langholm moor: Grainne, Hattie and Miranda (females all tagged in 2013) and Annie (female) and Sid (male) 2014.
Hattie and Grainne have made no major movements away from the moor, Miranda is still safe in Northern Ireland.  We'll be working with some fab folks in Ireland and Northern Ireland to bring you more detailed info on Miranda's movements
Annie is the offspring of Grainne; this is only the second time the satellite tagging of Hen Harriers harriers from successive generations has been done and we've been wondering whether the movements of mother and daughter would show any similarities.. One of the things I love about harriers is that they remind us again and again how unpredictable they are.  Annie has caught us on the hop and left the moor already, having flown north west just a few days ago.. 
24th -30th July Langholm Harrier movements

Many thanks to Stephen Murphy (Natural England) for this info.

Sid is wearing an RSPB tag and we looking forward to receiving an update on his movements soon.

The decision was taken this year to colour ring the other young harriers, so watch out for black rings with yellow text..

Harrier chicks wearing colour rings

We've enjoyed some great 'Wildlife Detective' activities this summer; including one cloudy morning  - which meant perfect conditions for the reptile refuges .. Common Toads, Common Lizards, Slow Worms, Voles, Common Shrews, Ant nests made for a very exciting morning.

Olivia investigating a Slowworm and Callum discovering a predated pheasant egg

Callum getting up close and personal with a Common Toad

We've had a month of fantastic 'Watching the moorland skies' events - great to meet lots of new folk and fantastic views of the birds:  Hen Harriers, Short Eared Owls, Merlin, Kestrel, Grouse, Curlew, Stonechat, Whinchat and Hobby to name but a few.  Yesterday evening (July 30th) was our last guided watch event this summer; Short Eared Owls, Buzzards, and Kestrels all put in an appearance but it was the first time in months I've spent time on the moor and not seen a harrier..

As we near the 'Glorious 12th' - the beginning of the Grouse shooting season in August, the press and publicity surrounding the Hen Harrier and Red Grouse moor conflict increases..
So are 'we' any closer to resolving it? I think if there was an easy solution then we wouldn't still have a problem..  Check out some of these links and decide for yourself..

 What is Hen Harrier day 2014?

RSPB are calling for Licencing of Grouse moors,  see what Martin Harper has to say -   

Download your free Grouse Shooting and Hen Harrier guide from GWCT here:

If you would like to sign the e-petition asking for the Defra Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan to be published follow this link:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update. Great name for Grainne's daughter. Go safely Annie! Wonderful to see the hard work of staff and the long hours they've put in coming together with great results. Brilliant to have people with such dedication to moorland species - thank you guys, I appreciate your work, and only wish more would. Thanks also for publishing the links. These special birds need all the help they can get.