Blog Post: Skydancing with Gill Lewis

Community Engagement Officer for England, Aimée Nicholson, talks about her experiences of working with children's author Gill Lewis. One of the greatest parts of being a Community Engagement Officer for the Hen Harrier LIFE project is being able to go into a school on a morning with children who know nothing about hen harriers and leave the same children, at the end of the day, Skydancing and singing about Harry the Harrier. It is a wonderful thing to behold a future generation of naturalists getting enthused over a very special bird of prey. Children’s author Gill Lewis has spent the past few years doing the same whilst researching and writing her book Skydancer. This is a story about young people living on the moors and their experiences when they encounter hen harriers on this moorland, which is managed for driven grouse shooting. Th...

Comment on Two more hen harriers go missing

Satellite tagging birds and monitoring nests gives excellent data which can be used to help these birds. It also shows that these birds are persecuted to the severe detriment of the species in the U.K. which will not change until those killing the birds stop doing so. Please keep monitoring nests and fitting satellite tags, the more the better. ...

Blog Post: Two more hen harriers go missing

RSPB's Project Manager for Hen Harrier LIFE, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, provides an update on the class of 2017. Through a career in conservation, you have the privilege of working with some amazing wildlife, but you also have to face the reality that most individuals will never fulfil their full potential, due to the threats they face on a daily basis. As I’ve followed the journeys of the juvenile hen harriers in the class of 2017 , it’s been difficult to remain hopeful for our youngsters, in the face of an uncertain fate. First we lost Calluna , whose satellite tag transmissions stopped abruptly on 12 th August on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park, then on 14 th August there was Mannin ’s failed sea crossing from the Isle of Man. I’m sad to report that we have now lost a further three birds. Sirius was a male hen harrier, w...

Backsbottom Farm 2017-11-15 10:33:00

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris  Author: Macfarlane R & Morris J, Illustrated, Nature, Reviewer: Peter Reason, Words Reviewed by Peter ReasonWhen our postman handed me the package that contained my review copy of The Lost Words I blurted out, ‘I’ve been waiting for this!’ In the weeks before its delivery I had read hugely appreciative reviews in the national press and on line. The book has benefited from a major marketing campaign from the publishers, aimed firmly at the Christmas market, and attracted much attention. So while delighted to get my copy I was also a bit anxious: would I like it or was it over-hyped? Would I find anything to write about it that has not already been written?I took the book to my favourite armchair and slowly turned the pages, first taking ...

Raptor Persecution…….again……

Bowland: Crimes Against Natureby Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard · 22nd September 2017 We have all heard of the expression ‘to turn a blind eye’, meaning to pretend that a particular act or occurrence has gone unnoticed and unregistered, to ignore something or even to neglect it. I am sure there have been times in most people’s lives where they have ‘turned a blind eye’ to something. Though (hopefully!) these incidents have been rather minor ones, incidents like pretending you did not see your little brother smash your mum’s vase, or ignoring the fact that your dog just ate your favourite pair of shoes. They are incidents that are minor irritations, but they are not ones that will not have a greater impact on our lives and not generally things of huge importance. They are not for...

Statement on Persecution of Birds of Prey

copyright F.of B.7th November 2017The Forest of Bowland AONB is an important area for the birds of prey that we associate with the English uplands, such as hen harrier, peregrine, merlin and short-eared owls.  However, the RSPB Birdcrime Report 2016 published last week highlights how some of these iconic species continue to be the subject of illegal acts of persecution throughout much of England and particularly the northern uplands.The Chair of the Forest of Bowland AONB Joint Advisory Committee, County Councillor Albert Atkinson stated:"It is particularly concerning to the Committee that these acts of illegal persecution continue; badly affecting the populations of birds of prey that are synonymous with the Forest of Bowland. These acts undoubtedly have an impact on the reputation of Bowland as an 'Area of Outstanding Natur...

Blog Post: Introducing Cathleen

Our new(ish) Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager Dr Cathleen Thomas reflects on her first few months in the role. Avid followers may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. Some of you will know that Blánaid Denman left the Hen Harrier LIFE project in August to become the RSPB’s Area Conservation Manager for the North East and Cumbria. Blánaid has done some great work on the project and we’re sad to see her go, but the baton has been passed on and I now have the privilege of managing the Hen Harrier LIFE project through to its end. I’ve had a mind boggling couple of months getting up to speed with our hen harriers as the project reaches the halfway point. This year we satellite tagged more birds than ever before and it’s amazing to see how much we’re learning about their dispersal and range, provid...

Farmers Workshop on Natural Flood Management

19 Oct 2017Guided walk around demonstration area on farm Natural Flood Management Farmers meeting on 19th October 2017 visited the slow the flow demonstration on Backsbottom Farm to see check dams, swales and blanket bog restoration and discussed mob grazing and keyline subsoiling. Early in the day we had brief presentations from Lune Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, Natural England and the Abbeystead Estate. It was a morning of lively discussion with 20 participants. Thanks to Sandra Silk from the Forest of Bowland AONB for organising this.Slow The Flow:        Check Dams and In River Training Demonstration area ...

Blog Post: Mannin’s failed sea-crossing

RSPB Scotland’s Investigation Intelligence Officer Jenni Burrell provides an update on Mannin, the Isle of Man sat-tagged hen harrier.   Monitoring satellite-tagged hen harriers can bring many positives – following an individual bird from the day it was fitted with a transmitter until its first flights away from the nest area, its travels through the UK (and beyond in some cases ) or even hopefully until its own first nesting attempt. Unfortunately, however, it can also bring some negatives. Sadly, here, we report on the death of another of our 2017 birds.  Mannin, along with his sister Grayse, was tagged on the Isle of Man on 3 rd July 2017 by trained & licensed members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and Manx Ringing Group in partnership with Manx Birdlife. After fledging in July, Mannin explored his home island until 14 th Augu...

Comment on Meet the Hen Harrier Class of 2017

Good luck to them all. Is this statement on the BBC website about Calluna missing Chris "Scotland remains a stronghold for the birds, with 80% of the UK population. Current estimates suggest there are about 600 breeding pairs across the UK."

Blog Post: Meet the Hen Harrier Class of 2017

RSPB Scotland’s Investigations Intelligence Officer Jenni Burrell introduces the new class. This year the Hen Harrier Life Project website has been improved to provide a more interactive experience for visitors. You can choose to look at individual birds, track their journey and look at any points of interests that appear. The profiles of twelve of this year’s satellite-tag hen harriers are now online and what a brilliant bunch they are. Take a look on the website to learn more about their stories and meet: Calluna (image by RSPB) Eric (image by Alan Leitch) Heather  (i mage by Brian Etheridge)   Lia  (i mage by Guy Anderson)   Mairie  (i mage by Paul Howarth)   Mannin  (i mage by James Leonard)   Manu  (image by Tim Jones)   Rannoch  (i mage by Brian Etheridge)     Saorsa (i mage by Brian Etheridge)   Skylar  (image by ...

Comment on Calluna has disappeared!

My expectation is that far more hen barriers are being lost to persecution than the 30% of golden eagles. A scientific paper proving this is necessary because pf the power of those responsible for the persecution.

Comment on Calluna has disappeared!

Whilst I do hope that no more hen harriers are lost like Calluna, it is more realistic to hope that enough hen harriers will be tagged to give an estimate of the first and subsequent year losses to persecution just as has happened with golden eagles. My expectation that ...

Comment on Calluna has disappeared!

I'm afraid that anyone questioning the reliability of satellite tags needs to pay attention to one fact - the location where the tracking ceased.  Grouse moors relentlessly raise their ugly heads when this question is asked.  The truth is that Calluna will be far from the last bird to be lost unless something drastic is done to consign the hideous world of driven grouse shooting into history. ...

Blog Post: Calluna has disappeared!

I’m very sad to have to report that one of the hen harrier’s satellite tagged as part of the LIFE project this year, has already disappeared. “Calluna”, a female harrier, was tagged this summer at a nest on the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge estate, near Braemar. We were monitoring her transmitter’s data which showed that she fledged from the nest in July. She left the area in early August, and gradually headed east over the Deeside moors. However, while the tag data showed it to be working perfectly, transmissions abruptly ended on 12 th August, with no further data transmitted. Calluna’s last recorded position was on a grouse moor a few miles north of Ballater, in the Cairngorms National Park. For regular followers of our hen harriers, this will be a depressingly familiar story. I’m sure some will focus on the da...

Lost Butterflies

At last we are getting butterflies in the garden, we had Large Whites and Green veined Whites at the start of the summer then the occasional Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper but only the occasional Tortoiseshell. Now that the buddleia and teasels are flowering we are happy to see Red Admirals, Peacocks and Commas coming into the garden. I hope the Commas might be from caterpillars I found on the hops I grew, as I knew they were a plant their caterpillars like to feed on. We grow lots of plants specifically for their nectar, borage and echiums are a real hit with the bees and hoverflies and we don't use any pesticides, we also leave plants to die back naturally and only cut back in the spring so there are lots of places for overwintering insects. We stock firewood in the outbuildings and often find butterflies and moths hibernating in there (and ...
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