Derwent Inktense Pencils

Don't know why but watercolour pan paints always go mouldy on me. I bought myself some Derwent Inktense Pencils that are water soluble to see if they might be a substitute. I did a quick painting of a Tree Peony Flower today and I am reasonably happy with the result although I found it hard to mix enough colour at a time and with watercolour you need to work quickly so some hard edges have occurred and lifting the colour was starting to damage the paper....

Elizabeth Mills 2018-06-10 11:09:00

This is the time of year when often quite expansive areas of webs appear in some of our hedgerows. They are produced by species of small ermine moths who are seeking safety in numbers and also trying to disguise their prescence from anything that might like to eat them. I also imagine any bird trying to peck at them would get cobwebs stuck all over its plumage and beak.  The webs slowly disintegrate over the summer and usually the hedgerows recover. The adults can be found on the wing  later on and all are white or greyish with many small black dots, hence the ermine name....

Elizabeth Mills 2018-06-10 10:48:00

The dry spell we have been having has suited the climbing and shrub roses in the garden, most were inherited with the garden or bought from the "sick plant" sections at garden centres cheap ( usually just bone dry) so no labels. The peachy poppies papery petals (phew- glad I'm not saying that) look lovely in the sun against the fat pink spikes of the Bistort....

Blog Post: Hen harriers breed in Bowland

Recently, it’s been one bad news story after another on this blog with many reports of our satellite-tagged hen harriers disappearing in unexplained circumstances.  So, it makes a nice change to give you some good news. I’m delighted to report that, for the first time since 2015, there are hen harrier chicks at Bowland in Lancashire. RSPB wardens discovered two hen harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them.   One of the two hen harrier nests  with chicks in Bowland. Photo by M Demain A single male hen harrier is responsible for both of the nests and he is currently taking food regularly to them.  Bowland used to be known as England’...

Mark Avery on Forest of Bowland AONB Consultation

Please respond to Forest of Bowland AONB consultationMark ♦ May 18, 2018 ♦ 4 CommentThe Forest of Bowland AONB is consulting on its next 5-year plan for 2019-24.  They would like your views by a week today, 25 May.  It’s easy to fill in the short consultation form – takes about 5 minutes. Have a look at their last plan with its images of Hen Harriers and talk of natural beauty and how that means a lot more than just landscape – click here. There are very few questions, and most of them are a choice of boxes to tick, but questions 3 and 5 allow free text.  Here are my responses to those questions. Q3: Hen Harriers – though their numbers are dramatically depleted. This is, as your previous management plan states, ‘the iconic bird of prey of the area’ and yet in th...

Comment on Silent spring? Saorsa, Finn and Blue all suddenly disappear

The plight of our hen harriers is a national disgrace. The relentless persecution will not end until driven grouse shooting is consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs. Then we can start to rebuild the shattered ecology of our uplands, and our national Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can become what they were intended to be. ...

Comment on Silent spring? Saorsa, Finn and Blue all suddenly disappear

This is so sad. There can be little doubt as to the fate of these birds. As there is no risk of being caught and punished, the perpetrators do not seem to care that people who do care about these birds know what is happening.

Blog Post: Silent spring? Saorsa, Finn and Blue all suddenly disappear

Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, reports on the sudden disappearance of three tagged hen harriers in suspicious circumstances With the arrival of spring, we look forward to the warmer weather kickstarting the growth of new flowers as buds burst into life. Animals start to appear again, some rousing sleepily from their hibernation. We dust ourselves off after the long winter, ready for a summer of activity. Our hen harriers become more active too as they begin to move away from their winter roosts, making longer flights towards upland areas to scope out potential nesting sites, ready to pair up and raise a brood of their own. Here at the Hen Harrier LIFE project, we already have reports of skydancing males, pair bonding and nest building. We watch with anticipation to see if our tagged birds will settle and try to rai...

Flies and Bees

Went for a walk around Whitewell. There were lots of black flies on nettles and flying clumsily around with long legs dangling - these were the St Mark's flies. There were also lots of Noon flies sunning themselves on leaves.They mate on cow pats and the female lays one egg in a different cow pat which hatches out quickly and feeds voraciously on any other larvae in the pat. The adults  feed on flower pollen. There were plenty of Green Bottles and depending on the direction the light hit them they could appear almost bright copper in the sunshine.Female St Mark's FlyMale St Mark's FlyCrane Fly mating.Noon Fly Mesembrina meridianaOrange Tailed Mining Bee, Andrena haemorrhoa (?)Soldier FlyGreen BottleSoldier Beetle...
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Tawny Mining Bees

Saturday was really warm and sunny and we had a gentle walk along the riverbank in Newton. Wood anemone , primrose, celandine, marsh marigolds all in flower and lots of Bumble bees, Red Tailed, Buff and Early flying around. Also noticed some really rich red insects flying around and finally managed to photograph one. It was a female Tawny Mining Bee, its dense, rich ginger coloured coat glowing in the sunlight, very glam. The males are usually smaller and not so densley haired and duller but they make up for it with a patch of white hair on their faces, that looks like a moustache.This is one of the species that can be parasitized by beeflies. If you see a small hole in the ground with a little volcano of soil around it , then you may have found a Tawny Mining bee nest....
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Bee-flies and spring

As soon as the "Lollipop Primroses" (Primula Denticulata) start to flower and we get some warm sunny days, I start listening out for a high pitched whine in the garden and looking out for quickly darting and hovering golden furry flies. For me it means spring is definitely underway when the Bee Flies are back in the garden. For a start they apparently don't feel inclined to fly if the temperature is below 17 degrees c. so sunny days are a must for them. All that hovering and zooming about must require a lot of energy. It also means that the solitary bees whose nests and larvae they parasitize have had time to get their breeding cycles underway. The adult beeflies have a really long proboscis that sticks out from their face to reach deep into flowers for nectar. It looks like it could do you an injury if it decided to, but beeflies are total...
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First signs of nesting

We had the bird ringers visit yesterday, unfortunately increasing wind cut short the session but notable was a Siskin with a brood patch (an area of naked skin which would be in contact with the eggs) looking a the weather today hope the nest is somewhere sheltered. The Pied wagtails are regularly going in and out of the big tin shed they nested in last year. ...

Comment on Same Old Story?

I met Findlay on the HH day at Sheffield, hopefully he is the start of a new generation that are not only interested in the environment but politics too, it's the only way we are going to get any action on conservation of Birds of Prey.

Blog Post: Same Old Story?

Today we have a guest blog from Findlay Wilde, a 16 year old conservationist, ringer, birder, environmental blogger and campaigner. Findlay is working hard to protect nature, and raise awareness about hen harrier persecution.   Whenever I get asked to write a blog about my thoughts and feelings towards hen harriers, I start with such enthusiasm, but as I get into the detail I feel my energy start to fade, in just the same way our hen harrier numbers are fading away. As I write this, the news that Aalin has gone missing is fresh in my mind. News like this instantly turns my thoughts to Finn , and when I heard about Aalin going missing I automatically checked my emails to see if a recent update had come through on Finn’s whereabouts. Fortunately she continues to do well; against the odds.   When this blog is posted, I can almost sense so...

Comment on Another Skydancer lost: Aalin disappears in Wales

My OS map shows several grouse butts on Ruabon Mountain. I didn't realise that there were many driven grouse shoots in Wales. It is impossible not to be drawn to the obvious conclusion. Eventually something concrete must happen.

Blog Post: Another Skydancer lost: Aalin disappears in Wales

Dr. Cathleen Thomas, RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager explains that today we have more sad news about another bird, this time from the Hen Harrier Class of 2016. The population of hen harriers on the Isle of Man almost halved between 2004 and 2010, dropping from 57 to 29 pairs. No one was quite sure why this might be, but one theory was that young hen harriers could be migrating to the UK mainland and not returning, so we hoped that putting satellite tags on birds born on the island would help us to solve the mystery. In July 2016, we tagged a bird named Aalin, on the Isle of Man, in collaboration with Manx Birdlife. Aalin left the island that year, and spent the winter of 2016 in Shropshire, before heading to Wales in the spring of 2017. The regular transmissions we received from her tag showed that she stayed in north Wales, unt...

Justice for Hen Harriers! #justice4henharriers

Mark Avery I'm an author and environmental campaigner. One of my passions is ending the illegal persecution of a wonderful bird called the Hen Harrier. We've reached our funding target March 2, 2018 We did it - together!  Over 900 of us have raised the money needed to mount our judicial review against Natural England.And it took four and a half days.  You are amazing!The speed with which the total was reached just shows how strongly people feel about this issue. We are doing our bit to get #justice4henharriers.Thank you - that's all I can say. THANK YOU!Read More >> I'm one of a group of like-minded campaigners seeking a better deal for threatened wildlife. We need your support to challenge the government to do more, and do the right things, for a persecuted bird, the Hen Harrier.Hen Harriers are wonderful birds whic...