Below are aggregated posts from various wildlife blogs created by people within the Forest of Bowland ( accept no responsibility for any content not created directly by

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April 17th, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Butterflies and Beeflies

The garden has burst into life over the last couple of weeks. On April 9th saw our first Bee flies of the year feeding on Primula denticulata flowers and in the evening we watched our first bat probably a Pipistrelle feeding at dusk over the garden. Th…

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April 11th, 2015

Alison Kelsall

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Nature Diary

The following wildlife was seen during a stay at the cottage 28th March to 4th April 2015starlings, magpies, blackbirds, robins, blue tits, siskin, greenfinch, chaffinch, sheep, cows, pheasants, chickens, ducks, lambs, horse, kestral, butterfly, wood p…

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April 6th, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Easter Bunny

Over EasterThe Easter Bunny made a nest,Barrie made a moth borderand I made a blousewith tadpoles.Happy Easter!

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April 5th, 2015

Cobden Farm Bed and Breakfast

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Cobden Farm Bed and Breakfast 2015-04-05 22:23:00

It’s been a long, slow start to Spring at Cobden Farm. Finally it’s arrived – and the daffodils decided to bloom in time for Easter Sunday. Hurray.Looking from Cobden Farm to Sabden and Pendle HillCobden Farm B and B website

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April 3rd, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

March winds and April drizzle

It’s true what they say about Britain, everyone else has climate, we have weather. Over the last week (sometimes the same day) we have had gales, hale,sleet, bright sunshine and now drizzle. Yesterday was T shirt weather and warm enough to eat out in t…

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March 22nd, 2015

Height Top Farm

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height top farm 2015-03-22 11:53:00

HEIGHT TOP FARM HOLIDAY COTTAGESHaving a Sunday morning cuddle in the glorious sunshine.

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March 19th, 2015

Height Top Farm

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height top farm 2015-03-19 14:39:00


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March 9th, 2015

Chris Collett

Blog Post: Introducing James Bray

This week we hear from the newest member of the Skydancer team who tells us a bit about himself and his new role, as well as giving us an update on our sat-tagged birds, Burt and Highlander. Hello. My name is James Bray and I have just started as the RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer, and my role will be to help monitor and protect Bowland’s birds of prey. As Bowland has been so important for hen harriers in England over the years, this will be very exciting and challenging work. However, I am very fortunate to be joining an incredibly dedicated and skilled team of volunteers and staff from a range of different organisations. I have been made to feel very welcome and have been really impressed with the expertise and enthusiasm that I have encountered. I previously worked for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Scotland taking part in a varied range of research projects in a range of habitats and locations. This included monitoring the wader-filled fields of the machair on the Outer Hebrides, and carrying out bird surveys on the high tops of the Cairngorms. One thing that I will not miss is the sitka spruce plantations that we occasionally had to survey – needles is a very appropriate term. I was also responsible for BTO Scotland’s training programme, running bird identification and surveying courses for volunteers, and encouraging more people to take part in bird surveying and monitoring. On my second day of work here, my colleague Gavin Thomas gave me a great introduction to Bowland by taking me to monitor a harrier roost on the edge of Bowland. Clear skies and calm conditions provided beautiful conditions and we were soon watching a couple of ringtail hen harriers drifting over the grassy slopes. I never tire of watching harriers, they are endlessly fascinating as they rock slowly from side to side, flying low over moorland, with bursts of acceleration or sudden stalls quickly followed by a drop to the ground. With a Barn Owl quartering the hillside in the background, my trip out with Gavin was a sensational way to start my time in Bowland. These two photos, taken by a nest camera at one of the successful nests on the United Utilities Bowland estate last year, provide some idea of how spectacular these birds are.     Meanwhile, Burt and Highlander, both seem to have taken a liking to their wintering grounds as they are still in the same areas that they have been in since before Christmas, with Highlander on the south-east Lancashire / Yorkshire border, and Burt in Cumbria. It is likely that the relatively mild winter has allowed good numbers of voles to survive in these areas, providing plenty of food for these two birds. It is great to see these two young birds doing so well in their first winter as it is in this period that natural mortality is usually at its greatest. This map shows that their autumn wanderings have given way to a more sedentary period, although they do cover relatively large areas within their wintering grounds.   As we look forward a month or two, it is possible that both birds will attempt to breed this year, particularly as so much suitable habitat is available. This is in part due to the rather disgraceful fact that that there are so few hen harriers left in England. As I join the work to try to bring hen harriers back from the brink in England, let’s hope that Burt and Highlander continue to thrive and play a practical part in the species’ future. In the meantime should you be enjoying an early spring foray into the countryside and are lucky enough to see a hen harrier, please report it to the hen harrier hotline at  or on 0845 4600 121 (calls charged at local rate).  Reports of sightings should include the date and location and a six-figure grid reference where possible.

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March 4th, 2015

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: LIFE support for hen harriers – 2015 and beyond

Suddenly it’s March (where did February go??), which means that any moment now the breeding season will begin in earnest.  And of course the big question is hanging in the air is what will this year hold for hen harriers? I both love and hate this time of year – so much hope, so much possibility, and yet so much trepidation. For the last three seasons, the award-winning Skydancer Project has funded and coordinated RSPB’s hen harrier monitoring and nest protection work in the north of England, and I’m delighted to say that this year, it’s going to be getting an extra boost. Our new Hen Harrier LIFE Project represents an exciting and ambitious, five-year programme of hen harrier conservation, combining direct conservation action with community engagement and awareness-raising measures, to build on and extend the work of Skydancer, both into the future, to 2019, and geographically into southern and eastern Scotland. We talk a lot about hen harriers in England but the reality is that there’s nothing separating hen harriers here from those in Scotland, Wales, or to a certain extent, Ireland or the Isle of Man. Bowland Betty showed us just how wide-ranging hen harriers can be and a few birds have even been tracked as far as France or Spain . Essentially, anything that affects hen harriers in one part of their range is likely to affect the population as a whole, and as birds don’t recognise boundaries, neither should we. The Hen Harrier LIFE Project is unique in being the first truly cross-border conservation initiative for this species. The LIFE Project will focus on seven Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated for breeding hen harriers, two in England and five in Scotland, illustrated below. Although these SPA designations constitute a legally binding government obligation to maintain favourable conservation status, it’s worth noting that not one of those listed is currently meeting its designation criteria for hen harriers. It stands to reason that to protect hen harriers inside SPAs, we need to protect them outside SPAs. By funding satellite tags, the LIFE project will enable us to follow these birds wherever they go, facilitating better understanding of their movements and helping to identify where they’re most vulnerable. A few of these tagged birds will be made public each year and you’ll be able to follow their incredible journeys through an interactive map on our project website (watch this space ). By telling these stories, we hope to raise awareness and understanding of  hen harriers, encouraging recognition that these magnificent birds “belong” to all of us, and we are all responsible for their protection. Speaking of which, the LIFE project will be aiding direct protection of hen harrier nests and roosts by providing access to remote cameras and other vital monitoring equipment. We’ll also be working closely with the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) and Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG) to monitor hen harriers populations throughout both breeding and wintering seasons. The project has employed two new Assistant Investigations Officers to focus on hen harriers and the uplands, who will work closely with police and statutory bodies to help address the ongoing issue of illegal persecution and disturbance. It’s a universal truth that all good things must come to an end but thanks to LIFE, Skydancer’s fantastic community engagement work won’t just fade away when the project finishes in September. The LIFE Project will continue key elements of this work, working with schools, local community groups, and gamekeeping colleges to raise awareness and build support for hen harrier conservation in areas where these birds should be. We’ll particularly be looking for opportunities to work positively with landowners to champion best practice for hen harriers where it occurs. Finally, if Hen Harrier Day last year has taught us anything, it’s that the issue of hen harrier conservation is bigger than any one organisation. So with this in mind, the LIFE project is already working to build links with other hen harrier projects such as Natural England’s Hen Harrier Recovery Project , the PAWS Heads Up for Harriers scheme , and the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project ; not to mention the National Parks and AONBs, and other conservation organisations; to develop a coherent conservation network for hen harriers across the project areas. Last year was a big one for hen harriers in England (see  here , here , here , and here ), placing this vulnerable bird of prey firmly in the political spotlight. Now, with the deadline for government pre-election shutdown only a few weeks away, it remains to be seen whether any decisions will be made on Defra’s proposed Hen Harrier Action Plan (see here for RSPB’s stance). Whatever the outcome, both Skydancer and the Hen Harrier LIFE Project stand as clear demonstrations of RSPB’s commitment to securing a sustainable future for hen harriers and our willingness to work positively and openly with anyone who feels the same. So here’s to 2015 and whatever the breeding season may bring – we’re ready for it. For more information on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project, visit

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March 2nd, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2015-03-02 17:03:00

We’ve had some very wintry weather the last couple of days.We went over to Bleasdale yesterday and watched hares chasing one another in the biting cold wind as the snow fell. This morning wasn’t much better, very windy and cold with snow flurries. We d…

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February 17th, 2015

Chris Collett

Blog Post: The fantastic fundraising efforts of the Liverpool Liverbirds

Recently, I’ve been hearing about the fantastic fundraising efforts of the Liverpool Liverbirds RSPB Wildlife Explorers.  Leader Elaine Caldwell explains:  “Back in September we held a meeting all about hen harriers to raise awareness about these beautiful birds and the problems they are facing, what the RSPB are doing, and what we as a group could do, to help”.  And help they have.  To raise awareness, Tessa made leaflets about hen harriers and sold them to raise £23.44.  Louis, aged 10, and Carys, aged 8, (both pictured below) held a homemade cake sale in their front garden and raised £64.52. Louis said “I really enjoyed selling cakes to give money to a good cause” .  Carys agreed: “It was great fun doing our cake sale for the hen harriers and we sold all our cakes.”  To collect the money from their fundraising exploits, the group even decorated their own homemade collection tins.   Wildlife Explorer member Joel, aged 10, explains why he wanted to fundraise for hen harriers. “When I heard about hen harriers being shot and killed I wanted to do something to help before they are extinct.  I did a sponsored bike ride with my brother Rafferty (aged 7) and we raised some money to send in.”  Joel and Rafferty (pictured with their homemade collection tins above) rode over 15 miles between them, and raised £69.50.  John did a combination of bike riding and cake selling at school and raised £40. The group have also made a poster with hen harrier facts, played Skydancing games, and made hen harrier habitat collages: Liverpool Liverbirds have so far raised over £200, a brilliant achievement! Leader Elaine said: “We have been staggered by the money they have raised.  Their activities also helped spread the word about the plight of hen harriers among family, friends, neighbours and classmates, so a great effort and great results all round.  We are really proud of their achievements.  T he fact they really got behind the campaign in such a big way shows that young people care about nature and are just as passionate about protecting it for the future too. This a great message for us adults to hear”. I couldn’t have put it better myself, well done and a big thank you to the Liverpool Liverbirds – you are all true Hen Harrier Heroes. The Liverpool Liverbirds aren’t the only Wildlife Explorers group who’ve been fundraising for hen harriers – both Macclesfield and Leighton Moss RSPB Wildlife Explorers have too.  I’ll tell you more about that soon. So, this is the final year of Skydancer and we have lots of great things coming up that I’m really looking forward to telling you about, but what’s happening after Skydancer?  Well, let me set the scene, Blánaid Denman has moved on to project manage a new and exciting hen harrier project funded through LIFE, and with that to whet your appetite I’ll leave Blánaid to tell you more in the next Skydancer blog…

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February 13th, 2015

Backsbottom Farm

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Barn Owl Box

                                  We’re hoping to attract a pair of barn owls to a new homeRod’s desig…

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February 12th, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2015-02-12 13:49:00

The rabbits have discovered its nice and dry under the log piles and been burrowing. The woods are full of little piles of cone cores and scales often on mossy tree stumps with a good view of the surroundings where the squirrels have sat eating. The fo…

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February 10th, 2015

Alison Kelsall

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Lapwings return

The lapwings have returned to the farm. Heard them calling this evening!

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February 10th, 2015


Comment on Introducing Julie Chrisp

That drawing of a hen harrier is amazing – it’s staggering to think that someone of only 8 or 9 years old produced that!   I hope the job goes really well, Julie.  Looking forward to the next blog.

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February 9th, 2015

Height Top Farm

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height top farm 2015-02-09 16:44:00

HEIGHT TOP FARM HOLIDAY COTTAGESA covey (there were eleven) of young grey partridge at Height Top this afternoon.

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February 9th, 2015

Chris Collett

Blog Post: Introducing Julie Chrisp

Hi everyone. This is my first outing on the Skydancer blog so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Julie Chrisp and I have recently started in post as Engagement Officer with Skydancer.  I am absolutely delighted to be joining the team – I’m not completely new to Skydancer, I was involved during the development phase of the project – so it’s great to be back to take Skydancer full circle.      I started just before Christmas, taking over from Blánaid Denman who had worked in the role since the beginning of Skydancer in 2011 – her time with the project culminating in Skydancer winning Best Education Project in the National Lottery Awards 2014. This was a fantastic achievement by Blánaid and the team and quite some shoes for me to fill.   Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be posting regular blogs to keep you up to date with all the exciting community engagement work we’ll be doing through Skydancer with schools, agricultural colleges, community groups and the wider public and telling you all about the fantastic efforts and activities people are undertaking to help hen harriers.   My first official duty as Skydancer Engagement Officer was to issue Springfields First School Nature Club, near Stoke-on-Trent, with their Hen Harrier Hero Awards .  21 children from year four were presented with their certificates in a special assembly before Christmas.  The children also donated their Nature Club subscription to the Hen Harrier Appeal .      To gain their Hen Harrier Hero award the group took part in various hen harrier-themed activities.  They drew pictures, wrote stories and poems, made hen harrier posters with five facts about hen harriers that they pledged to show to at least five people. They investigated bird of prey food chains plus the group even staged their own assembly, informing the rest of the school and year four parents about hen harriers.  A fantastic effort I’m sure you’ll agree. Image of a female hen harrier   Bird of prey food chain Next time, I’ll be blogging about the amazing work of the Liverpool Liverbirds RSPB Wildlife Explorers.

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February 8th, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2015-02-08 10:43:00

We’ve had a beautiful start to February, ok its cold but we’ve had lots of fine sunny days with clear blue skies and yesterday we sat outside in the sun having our lunch. The trees are full of birdsong and the Nuthatches are back at the nestbox they us…

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February 8th, 2015

Height Top Farm

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height top farm 2015-02-08 10:37:00

HEIGHT TOP FARM HOLIDAY COTTAGESA  great view from here this morning, it’s cold, frosty and sunny. Perfect for doing anything outside

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February 2nd, 2015

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2015-02-02 16:46:00

Barrie looked out into the garden last night and saw a deer close by the house outlined in the silvery light of an almost full moon. The snowdrops are out in the garden, “Candlemas Bells” as my gran called them, fitting for today.

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