Blog Post: Nos da to our tagged Welsh hen harrier: Lia’s journey is over

Hen Harrier LIFE Project Manager, Dr. Cathleen Thomas, shares the sad news of the loss of a second tagged hen harrier in Wales in suspicious circumstances. At this time of year, our Hen Harrier LIFE project team are very busy monitoring birds, protecting nests and satellite tagging juveniles. As we get caught up in the elation and optimism that a new generation of this rare bird brings, it was a timely reminder of their potential fates when we received the post mortem results for Lia, one of our Welsh hen harriers. Hen harriers were once widespread in Wales, but following a long history of illegal persecution and eventual extinction on mainland Britain as a breeding bird, the hen harrier finally came back to Wales in the 1950s. Since then, the Welsh population has slowly recovered, but it continues to vary greatly in size from year to year...

Comment on Six ways you can help hen harriers

Excellent. That's the way to do it! Please keep saying it at all opportunities. I have a petition with the Scottish Government going through the system about wildlife crime. I'm doing something, and I feel that the RSPB can always do more.

Blog Post: Six ways you can help hen harriers

Hen harriers are in trouble – that’s not news to anyone. The RSPB continues to urge the government to crack down on illegal persecution in the uplands in a bid to give these birds a chance to re-establish a stable population in England. But is there anything you, me, your friends and your family can do? Well, yes there is, and some of these things you can do right away. Together we can change the tide and stop illegal persecution. Picture credit: Jack Ashton-Booth 1) Attend a Hen Harrier Day event: Share your passion for these magnificent birds, hear talks and campaign for changes to help protect the future of hen harriers. 2) Sign up to Findlay's Thunderclap. Hen harrier campaigner extraordinaire Findlay Wilde is asking everyone who cares about these birds to sign up to a Thunderclap on social media. Sign up here and at 9.30am on 12 A...

Comment on More good hen harrier news in Bowland

This is incredible. I'm looking forward to the England result for the year (in terms of total Hen Harrier production). I just hope Natural England are not too involved. Congratulations to all who were involved.

Blog Post: More good hen harrier news in Bowland

Last month we reported that hen harriers had bred successfully for the first time in the Forest of Bowland since 2015, with two nests, both containing four chicks. Shortly after, the final egg on the second nest hatched very late, making it five.   Now we can reveal there is a third nest on the United Utilities Bowland estate, boasting four male chicks.   The third nest in Bowland. Photo: James Bray   As part of the RSPB’s EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project, we’ve fitted chicks in the nest with satellite tags so we’ll be watching their movements very closely during fledging and beyond.   We would like to send a big thank you to RSPB staff and volunteers, United Utilities and their tenants, and raptor workers who have all worked hard to protect all three nests, resulting in a successful season at the site.   ...

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. ...