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)

Wildlife Blogs ...

July 24th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Lychnis Moth Bell Sykes

Driving to Bell Sykes we noticed several Lychnis moth larvae feeding on the seeds of Red Campion.Reminds me of a visit to the Black Sheep Brewery.

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July 21st, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Elizabeth Mills 2016-07-21 21:34:00

We recycled old tractor tyres to make into flower beds and the wildflowers have really romped away. The little pond we made from an old water cistern has two resident frogs and a visiting toad who like to sit in the cool shade near it.Cornfield wildflo…

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July 18th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Stinkhorn fungus

 Stinkhorn fungi are bursting out under the trees,  the flies love feeding on the sticky caps.

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July 16th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

Friends of Bowland walk

Friends of Bowland organized a “Wildlife Wander” from Cross of Greets bridge. The weather fined up and it was lovely and sunny which brought out the grasshoppers, dragonflies and beetles. Lots of Meadow Pipits and Whinchats and possibly saw a Hen Harri…

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July 12th, 2016

Andre Farrar

Blog Post: Let’s take the opportunity for a better future for our upland wildlife.

We’ll be blogging regularly in the run up to Hen Harrier Day 2016 and as a prelude here is an analysis by Stuart Housden, our Director of Scotland, reviewing the issues facing the uplands in Britain and the fate of its hen harrier population and the work we are doing to tackle them. We believe fundamentally that intensive driven grouse shooting needs to reform or sooner or later it will die. We want actively to pursue constructive options – but our support is conditional on progress. This will be a topic we will return to over the coming weeks. We’ve never been afraid to tackle difficult issues, where powerful interests have much to lose, whether that’s those who profited from the world trade in birds’ plumage, or developers who pursue profitable developments at the expense of wildlife sites.  The RSPB has been actively stating the conservation case, and winning the arguments throughout our long history. Our passion for the cause that drives us – to see a world richer in nature – is at the heart of what we do. To this we add a calm evaluation of facts, data and information which we use to inform our policies. And, of course, our extensive network of nature reserves roots us in the practical issues of managing land and working in communities. A long running and currently very topical issue concerns the management of land for grouse shooting, particularly the intensive land management that now supports driven grouse shooting.  This happens on moorland and hills, places made special by the upland heaths and blanket bogs that are home to so much wildlife.  The management aims to produce extensive areas of heather which is regularly burnt to provide young shoots favoured by red grouse and where gamekeepers undertake the control of generalist predators such as crows and red foxes. Grouse moors are quite good for some important species (other than grouse) such as curlew and golden plover not least because of the legal reduction in numbers of generalist predators that would otherwise have an impact on ground-nesting wading birds as was found in this study carried out by GWCT.   But, there is strong scientific evidence which links intensive grouse moor management with illegal practices that result in fewer hen harriers, peregrine falcons and other protected birds of prey that should be found on these open landscapes.  Here’s our recent scientific review of the benefits & costs of grouse moors.. This illegal persecution of wildlife, when added to the intensification of the management of moorland (more burning, track construction, damage to peat areas, catching up and medication of grouse, killing mountain hares) is causing a number of serious questions to be posed to the grouse moor managing community. Female hen harrier – photo credit Andy Hay RSPB Images The RSPB’s Council has carefully considered the science and evaluated the impact that illegal persecution of protected species is having, alongside the damage to eco-systems, weighed against the benefits for some bird species.  We have also looked at other models of management and regulation in other countries, to see what we can learn.  It is apparent that the management of large sporting estates across the UK enjoys ‘light touch’ regulation compared with many other land use sectors (at home), and sports shooting in other countries. It is also apparent that the illegal killing of birds like hen harriers, red kites, golden eagles and peregrines on some upland areas is having a population and range-level impact . This was earlier revealed in the influential Hen Harrier and Golden Eagle Framework documents. In response, many have joined calls to ban driven grouse shooting, whilst those in the grouse moor community continue to challenge the evidence and wish to work in a voluntary capacity to improve practice. What is the RSPB doing to address this critical issue and where does it stand ? We are vigilant and remain absolutely committed to rooting out crime against protected species – often investigating and working with the police and other enforcement agencies to bring these cases to trial, and supporting the necessary action to pursue perpetrators through the courts Our annual BirdCrime report (here’s 2014) and our recent Scotland 20 Year review give further details.. Along with our partners, we are working on the ground to satellite track birds and give them the best possible chance of year round protection, for example through our Hen Harrier Life project . 2.         We believe the regulation of grouse shooting should be subject to a far more rigorous process, that ensures estates and their staff manage land in the public interest and within the law. Self-regulation has clearly failed.  A licensing system, with serious sanctions for breaches, including a sanction prohibiting sport shooting for periods, should now be pursued.  We’ll be returning to this issue over the coming weeks.   While we believe a licensed based approach has utility across the UK, we are currently focussing on the opportunity to develop its implementation in Scotland, where significant improvements in regulation are already helping to hold perpetrators of environmental crimes to account 3.         We continue to offer help to those managers who adopt progressive management, and will work constructively with them to find solutions to problems. For example, the diversionary feeding of hen harriers, trialled at Langholm, and which has proved to be successful in reducing grouse losses to predation. 4.         We do not support a ban on driven grouse shooting because we see this as unlikely to achieve the desired objectives as in our assessment it will not get political support without first showing that other approaches do not work. We also believe it focuses on the wrong area through highlighting the style of shooting (‘driven’ vs ‘walked up’), rather than the real problem – the desire to produce (and shoot) ever more grouse which is associated with increasingly intensive and sometime illegal management practices. Experience tells us it will also be extremely difficult to bring about a ban without first exhausting all regulatory approaches.  In short, if people break the law and kill protected wildlife (and this happens in many areas beyond driven grouse moors), such activity will not stop if driven grouse shooting is prohibited across the board. 5.         We have supported the Upland Stakeholder Forum’s joint action plan to increase the English hen harrier population ( the Hen Harrier Action Plan ) as the best current option for delivering progress in England. However, we believe so-called ‘brood management’ option still has significant questions to answer before any trial of the technique can be considered acceptable.  We made this clear as long ago as 2009 .  6.         So what might the future hold for the uplands?  It is increasingly evident that our uplands and the people and wildlife they support face an increasingly uncertain future.  The combination of a changing climate, unprofitable industries (e.g. farming and forestry) and heightened awareness of the importance of the uplands as a carbon store and source of drinking water all serve to remind that the way we use and manage the uplands is of vital importance.  And the connection between the uplands and communities downstream is also increasingly evident with major flood incidents increasingly the norm.  We urgently need to find new ways of restoring degraded habitats, restoring bog and heath, establishing new areas of woodland, restoring floodplains and finding ways to sustain High Nature Value farming systems, vital to the maintenance of meadows and pastures and a suite of priority species.  We know that many landowners who shoot, share our passion for the uplands and the wildlife they support.  And yet we are also aware that some continue to flout the law with no apparent understanding of the consequences of their actions either on the environment or indeed on their own community.  It is surely time for a change.  A change that embraces wider societal needs and puts grouse shooting on a more environmentally sustainable footing.  In the absence of a demonstrable change in behaviour, better regulation is now required to achieve change. We must also think about how to deliver the desired management of such large areas of the uplands.  How will the habitat of curlews, snipe, golden plover and other species for which these areas are very important be managed in the future (especially as populations of some of these key species have virtually gone from the lowlands).What role have the shooting community to play.  Will more intensive sheep grazing see the loss of heather ground, or will commercial forestry become the preferred land use? Something will fill the vacuum. We must ensure any new management properly addresses issues such as flooding caused by runoff from the hills, or damage to peatlands from drains or burning are addressed, rather than risk replacing one environmentally damaging form of management with another. Our Chairman of Council, Professor Steve Ormerod recently set out the RSPB’s position in a guest blog on Mark Avery’s website.  I hope you find this summary and the links to our ongoing work helpful in understanding the RSPB’s position on this issue. In essence, our approach is no different to that employed in dealing with any other land use – we want to promote good practice and eradicate bad, both through effective regulation and direct support for those who wish to work positively. We want to give hope to moor managers, by supporting them as they introduce best practise. But we will not flinch from exposing the illegal killing of protected hen harriers and other birds of prey, and will continue to do all in our power to combat wildlife crime.      

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July 11th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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Bowland Harriers © Mark Avery

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June 27th, 2016

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: The hen harrier rollercoaster continues…

It’s a turbulent and uncertain time for nature conservation (and everything else) in the wake of last week’s EU referendum result. The hen harrier is just one of the schedule 1 species currently afforded protection under the European Birds Directive. What will replace this and other vital pieces of European conservation legislation in the wake of Brexit is yet unknown, however you can read our Chief Executive, Mike Clarke’s reaction to the referendum result here .  One thing is certain, referendum or no, the emotional rollercoaster that is the hen harrier breeding season rolls on. The Bad News: It is with a heavy heart that only weeks after our beloved Highlander vanished over a moor in Durham, I have to share the news that our one remaining satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, has now also disappeared. Satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, photographed here at RSPB’s Wallasea reserve, in 2014 by Tony Orwell. For those who haven’t been following this blog, Chance was a female hen harrier, named by RSPB Scotland, who was tagged in June 2014 by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group before the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project began. However, the project followed her movements closely. RSPB staff who were monitoring Chance became concerned when her tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting at the end of May. A search of her last known location, on a South Lanarkshire grouse moor, was carried out by RSPB Investigations staff, but there was no sign of her. It is possible that she could have moved some distance from here before going offline. We don’t know what caused the satellite tag to fail but as with Highlander, transmission up to that point had been strong and there was no indication of battery failure. She has not been found. Needless to say, we are deeply saddened, disappointed and frustrated at the disappearance of Chance. We were looking forward to following her movements, monitoring any nesting attempts, and sharing them on the LIFE+ project website. We had high hopes that now in her second year, this would be the summer she raised a brood of her own.  We appeal to anyone who can provide any information about Chance’s disappearance to contact the RSPB in the first instance, or if the circumstances appear suspicious, Police Scotland on 101. You can also read a full statement on Chance’s life on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website here .  The Good News:   Around the same time that Chance disappeared, RSPB staff at our Geltsdale reserve in Cumbria became aware of a female hen harrier hanging around and displaying over the reserve. She was shortly after joined by an immature male, yet we didn’t dare hope that anything could come of it so late in the season. I have never been so delighted to be proved wrong. As of late last week, I can now confirm that we have a hen harrier nest with five eggs on Geltsdale, being watched round-the-clock by a team of dedicated wardens, overnight protection staff, and volunteers, armed with the latest remote monitoring technology. This is one of only three active nests in England this year and if successful, these will be the first hen harrier chicks to have fledged from Geltsdale since 2006 – exactly 10 years. A similar nesting attempt last year resulted in failure when the male hen harrier suddenly and inexplicably disappeared while hunting away from the nest. Faced with the prospect of starvation, the female had little choice but to abandon her eggs. With the Government and landowners now officially committed to the recovery of the species through the DEFRA Hen Harrier Action Plan, we have written to our neighbouring estates so they can play their part in helping to ensure that this year’s birds are safe when they leave our reserve to hunt. So what next?  We have everything crossed for successful hatching and fledging from all three nests and we are doing everything in our power to make that happen. However, with the recent sudden and unexplained disappearances of not one but two satellite tagged hen harriers, it is difficult to feel positive about the prospects of this year’s fledgelings once they take off. If this is happening to the satellite tagged birds, what can be said for all those hen harriers that haven’t been tagged? Through the EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE Project and with huge support from cosmetics company, LUSH, via the sales of their hen harrier bathbombs, RSPB will be fitting more satellite tags on hen harriers across a wider area this year than ever before. We will also continue to work closely with dedicated volunteers in the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) and Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG), and with other organisations and individuals to monitor and protect these birds on the ground wherever possible. A wise person once said, “There is more that unites us, than divides us.” We all want our hen harriers back.

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June 20th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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Richard Schilling Land Art Course at Backsbottom

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June 12th, 2016

Prasad

Comment on Another missing hen harrier

Good and thanks for the clarification. I thought he meant the coalition groups of the Hen Harrier Actionless Planless-plan. On the ground the RSPB is fantastic at wildlife crime reporting and in the European Courts fighting the government on muirburn …

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June 7th, 2016

Elizabeth Louise Mills

(Pink) Kittens with wings.

Had the moth trap out Monday night and caught several Elephant Hawk Moths and Small Elephant Hawkmoths. They just make me happy!

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June 7th, 2016

Blánaid Denman

Comment on Another missing hen harrier

Prasad – As mentioned on Martin Harper’s blog yesterday, a great way for you to find out more and get involved would be to come along to one of the 11 Hen Harrier Day events being held across England and Scotland on the 6-7 August. These events have g…

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June 6th, 2016

Prasad

Comment on Another missing hen harrier

Blánaid you quote James Bray as saying ‘a rapidly growing coalition of groups and individuals are fighting to change the way that the uplands are being managed and to stop the persecution of birds of prey.’ Please could you tell me more about these wonderful groups?

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June 6th, 2016

Prasad

Comment on Another missing hen harrier

Please could James Bray explain who he means by ‘a rapidly growing coalition of groups and individuals .. fighting to change the way that the uplands are being managed and to stop the persecution of birds of prey’ I would like to know more about these…

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June 6th, 2016

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: Another missing hen harrier

Just over a week ago, I shared with you the incredible story of Chance, a young female hen harrier who surprised us all with her continental winter migrations.   Today however, I have another story to share – another female hen harrier, fledged in 2014, the same year as Chance, this time from the Forest of Bowland, where the RSPB have been working in partnership with the water company, United Utilities, local raptor workers and others to protect and monitor hen harriers since the 1980s. Satellite-tagged and “adopted” by children from Brennand’s Endowed Primary School alongside her sister, Sky, the name Highlander is one that long-time readers of this blog might recognise. However in April this year, while Chance was in France readying herself to cross the Channel again, Highlander’s satellite tag suddenly stopped transmitting and she joined her sister in the ranks of the “disappeared”.  Those closest to Highlander’s journey over the last two years have endured both incredible highs and crushing lows in the process, and it feels only right that you should hear her story from them. Steve Downing is a long-time member of the voluntary Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) and has been working with hen harriers for over a decade. I started working with hen harriers in 2004 so 2014 was my 10 th anniversary monitoring and protecting hen harriers, England most persecuted bird of prey. Fellow raptor workers often say that they wish that they had hen harriers in their study area and I always caution ‘be careful for what you wish for’. The emotional rollercoaster associated with monitoring this species is intense and the rewards are few and very far between. Harrier nest protection can be soul destroying with the watchers sitting about a kilometre away from the nest, in all weathers, recording adult activity in minute detail. The effort from all of the volunteers, day shift and night crew is truly monumental. Following two years without a single nest in Bowland, Spring 2014 got off to a good start with a phone call to say that birds were back on territory; great but would they breed? Several days later a text arrived from Mick, RSPB Assistant Warden and Bowland Raptor Study Group member. A female was down incubating eggs and we arranged to meet on the United Utilities estate a few days later. Being one of only a handful of people licensed to do so in England, it is both a tremendous privilege to fit BTO leg rings on the young of this iconic species and a great responsibility. At 11 am on the 23 June Mick and I visited the nest under licence. It contained five healthy looking chicks and after sharing a smile we set to work, preparing the way for Stephen Murphy, Natural England Hen Harrier Project Officer, to fit the satellite tags to two of the chicks. Sisters Sky (left) and Highlander (right) having their satellite tags fitted, July 2014. (Image: Mick Demain) By the time the satellite tags were fitted the chicks were almost ready to fly free and local school children had given the tagged birds names. They had named a female from nest one Sky and her sister was named Highlander. What a fantastic names for birds whose home was 380m high in the Forest of Bowland. Two more satellite-tagged birds from the only other nest in Bowland that year were given the equally inspirational names of Hope and Burt. By late summer all of the Bowland chicks were flying free and hunting for their own food. It was good news that they had got so far. Unfortunately on the 10 September 2014 the satellite tag fitted to Sky, Highlander’s sister, inexplicably stopped working. The emotional rollercoaster had taken a dive but things got worse when Hope, from the neighbouring nest suffered the same fate on the same moor just three days later. I had held those birds, weighed them, measured them and ringed them a few weeks earlier and now they had joined the ” disappeared” . The other two sat-tagged birds, Burt and Highlander, were still alive but how many of the untagged birds were also dead? The full story of Sky and Hope can be found here and here . Despite an extensive search and appeals for information, they were never found.  As autumn turned to winter, the signal from Burt’s satellite tag became gradually less frequent, indicating a likely problem with the battery. His last confirmed transmission was received on 26th December from a location in Exmoor National Park where he was wintering. Sadly, he hasn’t been seen since. James Bray started as RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer in February 2015. Working in partnership with United Utilities, monitoring and protecting hen harriers on their estate in the Forest of Bowland is a key part of James’ role. Following her first winter, Highlander was first seen back in Bowland in late March on the slopes where she was born. With four pairs having settled down and with Highlander having found a mate, the team were incredibly excited. Highlander was paired with a bird that was in its third year. It was a grey bird that still retained some brown feathers on its back, so we were able to identify it from the other males present on the estate. The pair settled in a small valley and began making a nest, bringing dead heather stems in to make a flimsy platform on the ground amidst a stand of deep heather. Soon after she had begun incubating her eggs disaster struck – her mate suddenly disappeared. He was the first of four male hen harriers that had females incubating eggs on the United Utilities estate to disappear. The female hen harrier does all the egg incubation and relies on the male to feed her. If he disappears she must leave the nest to hunt and the eggs will chill and die. Showing great determination to breed, Highlander stayed in her chosen valley and within a few days of her first mate disappearing she had managed to attract the attentions of another younger male. Highlander was soon back in her original nest and following a licensed nest visit, fieldworkers found that she had laid nine eggs. This was incredible as historically, only a tiny number of harriers have ever laid nine eggs in one nest. Not all the eggs would have hatched but this demonstrated how strong Highlander was. Highlander’s second nesting attempt with an incredible 9 eggs. (Image: James Bray, 2015) As the days of her second attempt passed it became clear that her mate was struggling to provide for her. Hen harriers can be polygamous, and this male was already paired with another female who was on eggs. The strain proved too much and Highlander, being the secondary female, was deserted and she had to leave her eggs to feed herself. Her second nesting attempt had failed. Obviously fed up of Bowland, Highlander headed off to southern Scotland and following two failed breeding attempts, we really thought that that would be the end of her first breeding season. A week later I received a very excited call from my colleague Mick who was monitoring a lone male harrier; he had attracted a female! This young male, in his first breeding season, had been skydancing on his own for over a week, and Mick told me that he had not seen a male displaying so vigorously before. The first day that the female was in his valley he brought her six items of food over the course of the day but she completely ignored his advances. Over the next couple of day the two birds began to bond and were soon showing signs of nesting. We were obviously ecstatic that he had attracted a potential mate, and even more so when we saw that the female was carrying a satellite tag, and that its transmission confirmed that it was Highlander. The birds settled down, Highlander laid her third clutch of the season, and we all held our breaths. Monitoring nesting hen harriers is often a game of hope and patience. Hope that ground predators do not find the nest, hope that bad weather does not have an effect on food supplies, and hope that the male returns after each hunting expedition. Patience is also required as it takes nearly a month for the eggs to hatch. And so as that month passed with no problems for the birds and with the male regularly bringing in food we began to count down the days. 6 July was the special day, as this was the day that food was first seen being carried into the nest, a sure sign that Highlander’s first chicks had hatched. That next week was very special as the male was proving to be a very good provider of food and many of our volunteers and staff took turns watching the valley and looking out for food passes as the male returned. Five days later, on the day that the last egg would have hatched, disaster struck. Highlander and her mate were seen flying low over the nest diving at something on the ground. Mick and a colleague checked the nest to find that it had been cleaned out, most probably by a small ground predator such as a stoat or weasel. Heartbreakingly despite all her efforts, Highlander’s first breeding season had ended in failure, thwarted by her first male “disappearing”, then by a lack of food, and finally by nest predation. Highlander’s third nesting attempt ended in predation. (Image: James Bray, 2015) Highlander spent the autumn and winter of 2015 and early 2016 within 30 miles of Bowland. As spring approached she returned to Bowland for brief visits but the vole population is at a very low level unfortunately, and harriers that have visited have not stayed long. Highlander was no different. I was with three visitors to Bowland when she paid her last visit to the valley in which she was born. We watched a female harrier quartering the hillside, and as she came closer I saw the satellite tag – Highlander was here. We hoped that she’d stay but that was the last time that she was seen in Bowland. Sister to a missing sibling, partner to a missing mate, and three nest failures in the space of two months, our Highlander endured through it all. However, on 16 April 2016, Highlander’s satellite tag suddenly and unaccountably ceased transmission.  The last signal received placed her in County Durham but it’s possible she may have moved on from the area before going offline. We don’t know what caused the satellite tag to fail but transmission up to that point had been strong and there was no indication of battery failure. She has not been found. A final word from Steve… 2014 was my 10 th anniversary working with hen harriers and was supposed to be celebration of success. It was not. In 2014 I ringed nine birds in Bowland. Four were sat-tagged and all stopped transmitting, long before the sat tags reached their anticipated ‘end of life’. Male hen harriers are often called ‘ghosts of the hills’ because of the colour of their plumage and the way the fly. It is supposed to be a compliment but in reality it is not; they are ghosts. It makes me very sad, it should make every reasonable person sad. A final word from James… All the staff and volunteers here feel great anger that Sky, Hope, Burt, and Highlander are no longer quartering the English uplands, anger that there is only a tiny handful of hen harriers nesting in England in 2016, and anger at the persecution on some grouse shooting estates which results in there being no skydancing harriers over our hills. We must turn that anger into a determination to stop persecution of birds of prey. We can find hope in the knowledge that the RSPB is doing all it can to protect hen harriers and that a rapidly growing coalition of groups and individuals are fighting to change the way that the uplands are being managed and to stop the persecution of birds of prey. And we must hold on to the hope that hen harriers, as they have proved before, are more than capable of returning to the English uplands – our job is to ensure that the habitat conditions are right for them and that persecution is stopped. Find out more about our work to monitor and protect hen harriers through Hen Harrier LIFE Project, and follow the fortunes of our satellite tagged birds by visiting our website rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife or following us on twitter @RSPB_Skydancer .   

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June 5th, 2016

Backsbottom Farm

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Beer and Birds


Bowland Brewery Joins Forces With RSPB To Bring Britain’s Most Endangered Bird Of Prey Back From The Brink

In March 2016 Bowland Brewery entered into a partnership with the RSPB to help reverse the dramatic decline in breeding hen harriers.
Our flagship beer: Hen Harrier, was inspired by these iconic raptors, whose breeding stronghold lies in the Forest of Bowland, where the brewery was first established.
The hen harrier is also the symbol of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – an increasingly popular destination for nature-loving tourists which has traditionally played host to several breeding pairs of these majestic birds. But the hen harrier is in trouble. This beautiful bird of prey was once widespread throughout England, but numbers have fallen to just a few pairs of birds centred on the wilder uplands of northern England.
For the last few years, the breeding population in England has plummeted. In 2013, no chicks fledged from any nests throughout England and, while the situation improved in 2014 and 2015, the harrier’s breeding status is still critical. The Government, and conservation organisations, has published a recovery plan designed to restore viable breeding populations of hen harriers in Bowland and other areas where they should be breeding.
Bowland Brewery has stepped in to support the RSPB conservation efforts and agreed to donate a proportion of the proceeds from the sale of every pint of Hen Harrier sold across the bar and every bottle sold through retailers to fund the RSPB’s hen harrier conservation projects.
£0.01 from each pint of Hen Harrier sold and £0.01 from each Hen Harrier bottle sold will be donated to the RSPB, a registered charity in England and Wales, number 207076, and in Scotland, number SC037654.
£2 from each Bowland Brewery/RSPB beer gift pack sold will be donated to the RSPB, a registered charity in England and Wales, number 207076, and in Scotland, number SC037654
The initial agreement is based on a 2-year term with the brewery committing to a minimum donation of £5000 per year.
James Warburton, owner of Bowland Brewery said: “The hen harrier is a living symbol of Bowland Brewery’s intimate connection with the landscape where we produce our beers.
“The very real prospect that this beautiful bird of prey may disappear from the skies above the Forest of Bowland is unthinkable. That’s why we are committing to donate a significant sum of money each year to safeguard the future of one Bowland’s most iconic residents.
“By buying Hen Harrier by the pint or in bottles, locals and visitors alike will be making a positive contribution to hen harrier conservation in Bowland – and ultimately helping the population to grow.”
Peter Robertson, RSPB Regional Director for Northern England, said: “With the Government now fully committed to reversing the fortunes of this magnificent bird of prey, we hope that hen harriers will enjoy a successful breeding season this year and that people will be able to see them flying around Bowland and beyond, as well as enjoy a pint of the beer they have inspired.”
Bowland Brewery has similar ambitions for its flagship beer – and James Warburton hopes the more widespread availability of Hen Harrier nationwide will help spread the message about the plight of this beautiful but endangered raptor.
“We see this partnership with the RSPB as a long term investment in securing the future of the hen harrier,” said Mr Warburton. “While our first priority is to protect and nurture the local harrier population, I would be delighted if – in 10 years’ time – we could say we helped establish viable populations of hen harriers on uplands across Northern England.”
The RSPB is Europe’s largest conservation organisation, with more than a million members. For more information about the Society’s Hen Harrier conservation schemes, go to: www.rspb.org.uk
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May 27th, 2016

Alison Kelsall

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Chicks

We have 3 chickens roaming around the yard with chicks – this one has 7 chicks!

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May 27th, 2016

Blánaid Denman

Blog Post: In with a Chance – satellite-tagged hen harrier returns home

Our last Skydancer blog focused on the sad fate of the young satellite-tagged hen harrier, Lad, who barely a month after fledging, was found dead in the Cairngorms National Park, brought down by injuries “consistent with the damage caused by shooting” (see here ). Today however, I’m delighted to have a much happier story to share – our remaining satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, has returned home! Chance is a female hen harrier who was satellite-tagged by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and fledged from a nest in Southwest Scotland in June 2014. Although this was just before the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project began, the project has been following her movements since it launched and the story that has unfolded is a remarkable example of just how wide-ranging and unpredictable hen harriers can be. Chance displaying her satellite tag at RSPB Wallasea reserve, October 2014. Image (c) Tony Orwell Having spread her wings in the late summer around the Scottish borders, she slowly made her way south, exploring the uplands of Northern England before being spotted at RSPB’s Wallasea reserve in Essex in October 2014. There we thought she’d stay but the south of England clearly wasn’t far south enough for this adventurous bird and by the end of that month, she had crossed the Channel and set up home in the Pay de Loire region of Northern France! Come April 2015, Chance was showing every sign of staying put but in late May, she surprised us all by crossing the Channel once more and heading north, briefly to Scotland and ultimately settling down to spend her summer exploring the hills of Northeast England.   Chance’s route south from Northumberland to France took only three days, in October 2015. Her rapid return journey north  from France to Scotland  took just four days, in May 2016. When autumn came this time, there was no hanging about. In October 2015 Chance flew from Northumberland, via South Wales, back to Northern France in the space of just three days! Now, after another winter of watching and waiting, Chance has returned to the UK once more, this time taking just four days to travel up the east coast of England and back to where she started in Southwest Scotland. From Scotland to England, Wales, and France, the remarkable journey of this young female is an important reminder that if we want to truly secure a future for hen harriers in any one part of the UK, they need to be protected throughout the whole of it. Increased satellite tagging through the Hen Harrier LIFE Project is playing a vital role in this by helping us to better understand where hen harriers go and to highlight where they’re most at risk.  It’s incredible to think that without satellite tagging, we would never have had the faintest idea of the incredible journey our Chance was undertaking every winter. So now she’s back, what next? As a second year bird, there’s every possibility Chance will attempt to breed this year but with her late arrival on the scene, will she find a mate in time? Follow her fortunes on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website as we map her movements every two weeks and follow us on twitter @RSPB_Skydancer .   

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May 14th, 2016

Alison Kelsall

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Wildlife sightings

Lapwings 30+ and 1 lapwing chickCurlew 4Oystercatchers 4Hare 51 Pheasant nestSwallowsThank you Denise for making a note of these sightings

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May 7th, 2016

Alison Kelsall

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Primroses

The primroses are looking beautiful along the roadside

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May 2nd, 2016

Alison Kelsall

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Wildlife sightings

2 hares, 8 lapwings and 1 pheasant seen from the birdhide

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