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

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Guest Post: Calling local farmers and land managers

Nature conservation charity, the RSPB, would love to hear from local farmers and land managers in Bowland who are interested in helping nature thrive on their land.

The Forest of Bowland is one of the best places for wildlife in the UK and has huge potential to provide even more homes for important upland birds including lapwings and curlews, as well as other animals such as brown hares and insects like green hairstreak butterflies and golden-ringed dragonflies.

As a result, RSPB conservation advisor Gavin Thomas is offering free advice and support to anyone in the area who wants to manage areas of their land in a more wildlife-friendly way.

As well as advice, the RSPB is also offering farmers in the Forest of Bowland free farmland bird surveys. These stock takes will show what wildlife makes its home on a farm and, when repeated at a later date, will reveal how a farmer’s efforts are producing real results for wildlife.

Farmers and landowners interested in chatting to Gavin about giving nature a home on their land can call him on 07814 462429 or email him at gavin.thomas@rspb.org.uk.

April 19th, 2014

Backsbottom Farm

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Compost Turning

                       Here’s Adam turning the compost heap looked on by a curious Owl ….Isabella

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April 19th, 2014

Backsbottom Farm

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Sheep scanning

Here’s Rod and Adam walking up the farm track with the “yowes” that were scanned at our neighbour’s farm at Barkingate.Roeburndale West Road–now you see them……..now you don’t!

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April 18th, 2014

Height Top Farm

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height top farm 2014-04-18 11:51:00

HEIGHT TOP FARM HOLIDAY COTTAGESA glorious morning here at Height Top. Three balloons landed in Higham this morning. Two in the fields and one on the football pitch in the village.  

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April 17th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

File: Marvellous Moors

Experiencing the amazing moorland landscape firsthand with West Woodburn First School and Newsham Primary School, on a Skydancer field trip in Northumberland, March 2014

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April 17th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

File: Creative collage 2

One of the finished moorland collages created by children from Newsham Primary School, Blyth and West Woodburn First School, Northumberland after a Skydancer field trip as part of their Hen Harrier Hero Awards.

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April 17th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

File: Creative collages

Children from Newsham Primary School, Blyth, get one step closer to earning their Hen Harrier Hero Awards by making moorland collages, following their Skydancer field trip, March, 2014.

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April 17th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

File: Fun in the sun

Children from West Woodburn First School and Newsham Primary School enjoy the sunshine & learn all about the building blocks of the moorland landscape on a Skydancer field trip in Northumberland, March 2014.

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April 16th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: Watching and waiting in Northumberland

Latest update from Stephen Temperley, our Species Protection Coordinator, overseeing hen harrier monitoring and nest protection efforts in Northumberland this year. Across Northumberland these last couple of days, the clement weather has been very welcome indeed – for the farmers, for the muirburners, for the Northumberland National Park Wardens, for all nature-lovers who like to get out there but, with regard to the project, most of all for my volunteers, for myself and of course for the birds themselves. What a joy to be able to see for miles, to bask in a relatively warm sun and to be able to describe the movement of the air as a zephyr or a breeze rather than a wind that cuts right through you.  Don’t get me wrong – cold has not been a substantial problem at all this winter or spring. It’s the lack of visibility that has proven so frustrating. Certainly from the end of March to the middle of last week we had a cold east wind prevailing that brought in a harr (a wet fog with mizzle, drizzle, rain, you name it) and cut down visibility consistently to 50-200 m over the higher moorland where our monitoring has to be concentrated. Accordingly, under such circumstances, any hen harrier sightings had to owe a great deal to serendipity.  Nevertheless, over the two weeks or so of crummy visibility, my inestimable team of volunteers and me together managed to establish a minimum of two adult females and two adult males in residence across the county, although one each of those females and males seem to have remained more attached to their wintering habitats, rather than moseying along to the potential breeding areas. Male hen harrier silhouetted against the sky. (c) Amy Challis, 2008  Now at least I can tell you that the potential is such we have great cause for optimism. At least one adult female and one adult male are showing more than a passing interest in the most historic, and therefore the most likely, breeding areas. The muirburn deadline for upland keepers has now passed (as of the 15 th of April) so, hopefully, potential disturbance is now at a minimum. Meadow pipits, skylarks, lapwings, curlews, golden plovers, red grouse, etc – all are back on their breeding grounds, all are calling, displaying and breeding, and it provides a wonderful, rewarding background to monitoring. Now if only the male and female harriers could meet and get it on, their hormonal instincts would take over and we will be in business. Let’s hope my next blog bears this out……

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April 16th, 2014

Bleasdale Cottages

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Eye to Eye

We have had several wildlife photographers staying in the cottages recently.It’s good to see the Barn Owl is still with us.These two pictures were taken by Dr Clive Mowforth who also made this owl box.

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April 9th, 2014

Bleasdale Cottages

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Boxing Brown Hares.

Last weekend we had two wildlife photographers, David and Louise Gibbon, staying in Garden Cottage. Their aim was to photograph boxing hares, they set up their pop-up hide in a field down the road. We knew that they would have sightings of Brown H…

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April 7th, 2014

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2014-04-07 16:08:00

The fields are full of lambs right now and the cowslips I grew from seed are flowering.And where is baby Oleg? My pet ferret Bramble lost her toy teddy and we hoped baby Oleg would arrive and keep her company but he seems to have gone awol.Here she is …

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April 7th, 2014

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2014-04-07 13:57:00

Got some new Colour Soft pencils and thought I would have a go at drawing a Sexton Beetle that came to my moth trap last summer. I love Sexton beetles they are the undertakers of the animal world, big and robust looking (for a beetle) with a striking o…

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March 18th, 2014

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2014-03-18 17:12:00

The unseasonably mild weather of the last two weeks has really brought the garden on. However all the lovely primrose flowers and fresh new growth of my herbs has been a huge draw for all the local rabbits and pheasants who spend the day pecking and ni…

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March 6th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: Kicking off 2014 with enthusiasm and pragmatism

Spring is suddenly upon us and as the breeding season gets underway in earnest, so too do our efforts to identify, monitor and protect any hen harrier nesting attempts in England. I’m delighted to welcome back Stephen Temperley as our Species Protection Coordinatior for Northumberland, and I bring you his determined, yet hopeful, first blog of the season. I’ll begin my first blog of the season by referring you to a fascinating and important peer-reviewed scientific paper published last November in the Journal Bird Study (Hayhow, et al 2013) . Using data from the fourth national survey of hen harriers, carried out in 2010, the authors have determined that the UK and Isle of Man population declined by 18% between 2004 and 2010. The hen harrier population of Scotland declined by 20%, whereas the welsh population increased by 33%. While the very low numbers in England make statistical extrapolation unreliable, it was noted the by far the most significant declines occurred on heather moorland managed for large-scale (beaten) grouse shooting. They conclude that illegal persecution limits the size of the English population to very low levels. Hard to argue with, particularly when we take into account the conclusions of Fielding et al (2011) , that there exists sufficient habitat to support 323-340 pairs across England. The last few years have been desperately bad for hen harriers in England: in 2010 there were 7 successful hen harrier nests, from which 23 young fledged. These paltry numbers declined progressively in subsequent years, so that in 2012 England had only a single successful nest. It couldn’t get worse I hear you say – well it could, and it did. We had such high hopes in 2013 when a nest attempt got underway in Northumberland. For a more detailed account of this attempt and our protection program, you can read my final blog from last year  here .  From the point of view of protection the RSPB monitoring operation set up in response to the 2013 Northumberland attempt was an unmitigated success; the birds remained undisturbed during a 24/7 monitoring scheme that RSPB staff and volunteers kept up for eleven weeks. During that time the poor female incubated her two eggs for almost fifty days (average for this species 29-31 days), with the male providing her with food items every day without fail throughout that time. Unfortunately the eggs did not hatch, with a full forensic analysis revealing they were infertile. So – in case you were not aware, it came to pass that in 2013 there were no successful breeding attempts in England . With Circus cyaneus on the cusp of extinction in England, every breeding attempt, every egg and every fledgling this year will be precious. While the breeding failures of recent years have been very hard for all of us to bear, I am encouraged by the fact that the 2013-2014 winter hen harrier numbers across Northern England have been particularly buoyant, indeed the best I have known for almost ten years. This has to be good sign with respect to breeding potential. During the earliest stages of this year’s breeding cycle (up to the beginning of egg-laying), myself and a few highly experienced workers will be monitoring extenstively but watching keenly from a distance to avoid any potential disturbance. Thus, while the birds are only just beginning to emerge from winter habits and habitats, we prepare and we watch with a combination of wide-eyed enthusiasm and hard-headed pragmatism. And, believe me, when it comes to the fate of hen harriers in England that combination is not a contradiction in terms. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said (and I paraphrase): an artist is a person who can hold two fundamentally opposing viewpoints and still function. For artist, read hen harrier worker. Here’s to a successful 2014.

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February 26th, 2014

Bleasdale Cottages

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Lights, Camera, Action……

 As I sit at the computer by the window and looking out onto the garden feeling how good it is that the late afternoons are getting so much brighter and each time you go outside there are so many things on the move. The garden birds are …

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February 26th, 2014

Height Top Farm

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height top farm 2014-02-26 18:48:00

HEIGHT TOP FARM HOLIDAY COTTAGESMeeting today at Dunsop Bridge about the Bowland Haytime Project. Met our “Seed donors”.  Looking forward to seeing both our s and Higham School Children’s effort come to fruition.

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February 21st, 2014

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: Have a heroic half-term with the Hen Harrier Hero Awards!

It’s the last day of half-term week, the weather’s been awful and the kids are bouncing off the walls. You’re running out of ideas to keep them occupied and counting down the days ’til school starts again, but fear ye not – I have just the thing! R…

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February 13th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: Wildlife crime & hen harriers hitting the headlines

With the gathering of the first United for Wildlife conference in London this week, the subject of international wildlife crime has been very much in the media spotlight. This has stimulated a huge amount of online commentary and debate about our tendency to view wildlife crime as a foreign issue, and whether or not we adhere to our responsibility to practice what we preach. Do we hold the importance of protecting our own iconic wildlife, such as hen harriers and golden eagles, as equal to the protection of international poster-species like rhinos and tigers? And if not, why not? You can watch Channel 4′s short documentary news piece on this topic here , which aired last night and features interviews with, amongst others, our own Scottish Head of Investigations, Ian Thomson, and the Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Alex Hogg. In addition, Martin Harper wrote an excellent blog on this yesterday, ” Tackling wildlife crime abroad… and at home “, which if you haven’t already read, I would strongly recommend. In it, he particularly focuses on hen harriers and explains why the pressure is now seriously on for Defra fulfil their commitment to produce an effective emergency recovery plan for hen harriers in England.  Time is ticking, and our wildlife is counting on us.

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February 11th, 2014

Blánaid Denman

Comment on Bird on the Brink – an evening of discussion & debate

Thanks, Ian. Always nice to hear.

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February 11th, 2014

THOMO

Comment on Bird on the Brink – an evening of discussion & debate

I actually heard you speak at the Newcastle RSPB Local Members Group last November on Tyneside and I really enjoyed that talk by you. Regards, Ian.

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Beacon Fell Country Park

Woodland, moorland and farmland. Visitor Centre several car parks. Many well marked paths. Mainly conifer plantations but also heath and moor. Grid ref. (SD566418)

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