Monday, 25 August 2014

Annie didn't stay long

There is a definite Autumnal feel to the air and we weren't far from a frost at the weekend, which was a bit of a shock for August. I had a fantastic day on the moor on Friday with students from Langholm Academy - learning about the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project as part of their Environmental Science module. It is so refreshing to work with young people of this age group as they question every aspect of the management, and rightly so. From young people with countryside / farming / shooting background to those who have had little engagement with the moor before.. I always ask them what they want from their surrounding landscape?  and how do they see the moor in 20 or 50 years time?. a very engaging and thoughtful group. Weather permitting we'll be out this week getting our hands dirty taking a closer look at the vegetation on the moor and the techniques used to manage it.

Langholm Harriers

 Annie's return to Langholm moor last week was brief, she stayed just a day or so and made a loop back east to Catcleugh Reservoir in Northumberland before headed west again to ground near Tweedsmuir in the Scottish Borders.

Hattie and Grainne (2013 tagged females) are running true to form and sticking within the boundaries of the moor, hunting mostly on the rough grassland. As far as we know Miranda is doing ok in Northern Ireland but data from her tag has been irregular. We are still waiting for information on Sid (the male 2014 tagged chick's) progress but will post here when it arrives.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Annie comes home

Annie 18th August

We've just been notified that Annie (2014 tagged female harrier) has returned home to Langholm.  Her signal shows she has arrived back on the northern edge of the moor  and not yet visited her old nest site.. but we'll be keeping an eye out for her. Maybe she has come back home to feed up on voles or just to check the moor is still there.. who knows. I can't imagine she'll hang around long, it will be interesting to see where she explores next. (click on the image to see it enlarged).

Friday, 15 August 2014



 After the incredible weather we have enjoyed over the last couple of months, the rain has returned to remind us here at Langholm not to get too comfortable! In between the heavy rain showers, it is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the moor. It is at this time of year that heather moorland comes into it own and wows us with stunning displays of violet..  Sadly the rusty brown colouration of heather affected by the heather beetle grub has made an appearance at Langholm again this year; not as extensively as in previous years but it always seems to be by the roadside so is often the first view you get crossing the moor. If you look a little further afield and there are some wonderful views to be enjoyed.

August on Langholm moor

Healthy Heather in full flower (Tom Hutton)
Heather affected by Heather Beetle (Tom Hutton)
Heather Beetle grubs (Laurie Campbell)

Young Harriers hunting on the moor (Tom Hutton)

As we've mentioned in previous posts Hen harriers have had an incredible breeding season at Langholm with a total number of 12 nests. We can confirm (thanks to    that there were 12 females, and 9 males (6 monogamous and 3 bigamous). Ten of these nesting attempts were successful and fledged 47 young (brood sizes between three and six), which is more than in all previous breeding seasons since the start of the project combined. The two failed nesting attempts were deserted during incubation (one secondary female and a very late nesting attempt). 
Hattie and Grainne (both female birds fledged from Langholm in 2013 and both bred this year) are still exhibiting their strong bond to Langholm moor and are showing no signs of varying from that pattern. Annie (Grainne's daughter), however,  has exhibited the opposite pattern of behaviour from her mother, leaving the natal area around a month after leaving the nest. This opportunity to follow a mother and daughter is throwing up some really interesting questions -  such as what drives one harrier to leave the moor after a month and another to stay for a year? We have not  yet received data about Sid (male chick fledged from Langholm this year) but look forward to seeing what he is up to and will share this data, here, as soon as we can.
 Annie has flown 85km East and is currently in Northumberland, south west of Wooler.
Hattie, Grainne and Annie 10th - 15th August
Miranda did not breed this year but is doing is ok in Northern Ireland.. her tag is not behaving quite as expected (so we can't bring you a map at this time) but visual sightings confirm she is safe.