Stocks Reservoir

Went for a coffee after work at the cafe at Stocks Fly Fishery. It was lovely, warm and sunny but very breezy which made photographing insects quite challenging. My little camera was up for it though and I got some lovely photos and saw my favoutite fly Tachina grossa.I think this is Sericomyia silentisDung FlyHeather Fly Bibio pomonaeTachina grossa, the greenbottle fly gives some idea of size.Fungus gnats, the yellow bellied ones are Scaridae hemerobioidesI think this is a Sawfly, Tenthredo sp....
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Blog Post: Hen Harrier Day 2017 – in pictures

Here are a selection of photos from last weekend's Hen Harrier Day events at RSPB Arne, RSPB Rainham Marshes, Sheffield, Boat of Garten and Vane Farm Tayside. Hen Harrier Day South - RSPB Arne - (photos by Terry Bagley) Hen Harrier Day Highlands - Boat of Garten (photos by Guy Shorrock)       Hen Harrier Day Sheffield       Hen Harrier Day - RSPB Rainham Marshes       Hen Harrier Day - Vane Farm, Tayside (photos Guy Shorrock)   ...

Roeburn Remembering Restoring Festival

                                    Let us know if you are comingFacebook Event LinkPoster by Eller Everett River Roeburn Remembering and Restoring FestivalSat 12th -Sun 13th August 2017Backsbottom Farm, Roeburndale West, Nr. Wray, Lancaster La2 9llThis Free Festival will celebrate and remember 50 years since the Wray flood on 8th August 1967and will help to engage the local community and general public about the issues around flooding and water management.Events will include:Historical exhibition of the River Roeburn and events of flooding, landslips and other river changes over the years including Wray Flood and Flood Desmond. In Rural Classroom in the farmyard.&nbs...

Comment on Hen harrier breeding numbers in England 2017

Sorry Blanaid, but as we have previously discussed, the RSPB must accept some responsibility for this result. Far too much time and patience has been shown by the RSPB towards the law-breakers, who simply take advantage of the weak position of the RSPB on this issue. I appreciate many people at the RSPB are trying hard and doing the right things, but quite simply the law-breakers are laughing at the stance of the RSPB and many of your members are getting increasingly frustrated.It really is time for concerted, determined, effective action to protect these glorious birds. ...

Blog Post: Hen harrier breeding numbers in England 2017

It’s the question to which everyone wants the answer – how many hen harriers bred in England this year? Answer: three successful nests, from a total of seven attempts, producing 10 fledged young. Today, the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership* have announced that five of this year’s nests, including the three successes, were under their watch, with four of these occurring on land managed by the Forestry Commission.  This is the third year in a row that hen harriers have bred successfully at this site, after eight fledged from two nests in 2015, and six from two nests in 2016, clearly marking Northumberland out as the new stronghold for hen harriers in England. One of this year's hen harrier nests in Northumberland (Image: RSPB) Representing the Partnership, Andrew Miller of the National Park said, “Hen harriers are s...

Blog Post: Competition: Help us name our hen harriers!

You may remember last month I blogged about our 2016 Perthshire female, DeeCee and her fantastic brood of five healthy chicks (see here ). Well, I’m now delighted to share that all five have fledged successfully from land owned and managed by Forestry Commission Scotland in Argyll – two of them sporting shiny new Hen Harrier LIFE Project satellite tags! Three of DeeCee's five chicks, July 2017 (Image: RSPB) The two eldest and biggest chicks in the brood, one male and one female, were each fitted with the tiny transmitters just days before fledging, by a trained expert, under specialist licence. It will be fascinating to see where they go. Will they follow the same movement patterns of their mum, DeeCee, or will they go their own way entirely? Only time will tell. For now though, we need your help to choose names for them! You have from...

Elizabeth Mills 2017-07-26 11:20:00

July is a lovely month in the garden, a colourful, buzzing celebration of life ( I'm like Ned Stark though, even in high summer, I keep thinking "Winter is coming!") I spent ages trying to photograph this cute little bee, it has really fluffy front legs which whenever it settles it hides under its chin, like its embarrassed by its fashion choices. I think its a male Willughby's Leafcutter Bee. I also noticed neat little semi-circles had been nibbled out of the leaves of the climbing rose by the kitchen window, probably by a female Leafcutter Bee, wish I could spot a nest....

Blog Post: Exciting times: Hen harriers the next generation

We've received more brilliant news this week - in her first ever breeding attempt, our Northumberland female, Finn, is successfully rearing one chick at her nest in Southwest Scotland! The discovery was made by specially trained and licensed staff following up on Finn's welfare.  Finn's offspring - a single, large but still downy chick hidden in the heather. (Image: RSPB)  Hen harriers don't always breed in their first year, in fact historical records estimate only between 8-30% of first year birds make the attempt. And often when they do, the risk of failure is greater due to inexperience or laying infertile eggs. So although a single chick may not seem like much, for our young Finn, it's a fantastic achievement.  All being well, we expect that Finn's chick will fledge in the next 7-10 days.  Finn herself was named after teenage conse...

Blog Post: Guest Blog: Stunning hen harrier chase on Isle of Man

Peter Christian is a birdwatcher and photographer with a keen eye for detail. Here, he describes how he was lucky enough to capture an incredible photographic series of a hen harrier in pursuit of a meadow pipit, providing a rarely glimpsed view into lives of these extraordinary birds. All photographs are kindly reproduced with Peter's permission and remain his copyright.  As a keen birdwatcher and hobby photographer on the Isle of Man, it's thankfully not too uncommon to encounter Hen Harriers. On a walk on an upland track recently however, I witnessed something I've never seen before.  Initially distant in the valley below I spotted the unmistakable presence of a male Hen Harrier. A striking bird to say the least. What's more, it was hunting a Meadow Pipit - wow!  They looked to be heading my way, so I grabbed the camera and tried ...

Blog Post: When the Sun Shines on a Moorland Field Trip

What a busy few weeks it has been! Darting around the country, playing with puppets, constructing moorlands from playdough, refereeing Skydance Olympic competitions... Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Popping into primary schools to deliver hen harrier workshops and assemblies is a lot of fun. Occasionally, though, I feel especially lucky to have my job. I’m speaking about those days when the sun shines on a moorland field trip.     Towards the end of May the primary 4/5 class from Finzean School joined me in an upland area of the Forest of Birse in Aberdeenshire to find out more about the hen harrier and the moorland as a habitat after my visit to their primary school earlier in the month. And what an excellent day it was too. We scoured the skies with our binoculars, and the moorland vegetation below for invertebrate life...

Greendale Wood

Had an enjoyable evening "walk"(273m) arranged by Clitheroe Naturalists around Greendale Wood, Grindleton. I think the poor weather forecast put people off as only three of us turned up. The weather threatened all the time with the odd spot of rain and roll of thunder but we managed a good couple of hours searching for plants, insects and birds. We now have a nice initial list of species that hopefully will allow naturalists in 20, 50 or even 100 years time to see how the woodland has changed and developed over time. More importantly for me I got to see some really lovely insects. All identifications are merely my best stab at it, please feel free to say if they are wrong.Forest Shieldbug Pentatoma rufipes (final instar) found feeding on Hazel.Common Froghopper Philaenus spumarius these were abundant on nettles and other vegetationFlower bu...
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Blog Post: Happy hen harrier family

Great news for a Friday - a recent routine check of DeeCee's nest in Argyll, carried out by RSPB staff under full appropriate licences, has revealed a healthy brood of five chicks! Hen harrier DeeCee's healthy brood of five chicks. Can you spot the tiny youngest in the middle?  You'll need to look really closely to spot them all. Like many birds of prey, hen harriers lay their eggs a day at a time and they hatch consecutively in the order in which they were laid. This means that the eldest of DeeCee's chicks has at least a five day's start on the youngest, and being bigger, is able to gobble up the lion's share of the food that the adult male brings to the nest. Field voles are a vital food source for hen harriers throughout the breeding season but numbers of voles naturally vary widely from year to year, often showing what's known as boo...

Mobile Chicken House

This mobile chicken house means that the field doesn't get muddy and eroded and the grass still grows. The chickens are off the ground from predators in their hut, the wire can have left over food put on to it without attracting rodents and the whole thing can be moved by tractor so food remnants will fertilise the ground.There's also no need to go out at night to lock up the chickens as they have a predator proof ladder!the frame ...
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Comment on Hen harrier Class of 2016: an update

I'm so pleased that some of the birds are still with us. Lets also hope that the recent events in Scotland will reduce the persecution there, but be prepared for that not to happen. Can I also ask those in Scotland to write to their MSPs to ensure the law is changed to allow  video evidence in court. ...

Blog Post: Hen harrier Class of 2016: an update

As I sit at my desk with every window in the office open and the sun beating through the glass, it feels as though the year has abandoned any thought of Spring and skipped straight to Summer. Long may it last! It’s also a reminder (as if I needed one) that we are rapidly approaching the thick of the hen harrier breeding season, and my thoughts are naturally with our five remaining satellite-tagged females from 2016. What will these young birds, barely even a year old, make of their first true summer and will they survive to see another autumn? The news of a hen harrier shooting allegedly witnessed in broad daylight only weeks ago, near Leadhills in Southwest Scotland, has done little to calm my nerves. For now however, I am delighted and hugely relieved to say that all five birds are alive and doing well. Not only that but against all t...

Blog Post: Guest Blog: Join Bo the hen harrier at Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival 2017

Originally from London but a resident of Lancashire for 17 years with a love of the surrounding countryside and wildlife, Helen Ficorilli is the Programme Director of the Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival, which has taken up residence in the Forest of Bowland over the last seven years. Here she tells us why a female hen harrier has this year been taken up as the emblem for this annual event.    Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival returns to Gisburn Forest within Forest of Bowland AONB for it’s 7 th outing for the last weekend of July.  More pocket sized than boutique, this unique festival has captured the imagination and support of regional and national plaudits which include The Guardian, The Big Issue, Radio 6Music DJs and the high number of returning family audiences.  In a location managed by the Forestry Commission Englan...

Sexton Beetles

A recent moth trap caught some black Sexton Beetles Nicrophorus humator, we normally get the black and orange ones N vespillo. By lucky coincidence the cat caught a young rat, so we put them together in a tub and watched the result see below. I was trying to get a time lapse sequence but they did most of the burying overnight. However I was lucky enough to be watching/videoing when there was some activity and then one beetle abandoned the rat. It quite obviously wanted to escape the container so I let it leave. This was a surprise as the information I have found says  both parents tend the larvae, unless the one I filmed was a rival that had turned up? It can be seen towards the end of the video that at least one beetle was still under the rat. These like all the others we have caught had phoretic mites. Several different fly species vi...
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Mulching the Garden

We're lucky to have had Caroline and Charlie ,our fantastic French volunteers, to help in the garden. Here they are mulching the Keder polytunnel and greenhouse with compost made from rotted down bracken. Our vegetable polyculture beds are a mixture of the no dig and hugel methods. No dig is particularly beneficial for the soil as the earthworms do the digging when the mulch is put on top and there is little disturbance to micro-organisms.Caroline filling wheelbarrow loads of compostCharlie in the Keder greenhousepulling out old nasturtiums which will go back into the compost heapsCaroline piling on the composthandfuls of compost go on top of the greenhouse beds...
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Slow the Flow – Check Dams on Fell

As part of the upland restoration work being undertaken by Rod these check dams are shown being put into ditches which in time will slow the flow of rain water down towards the river. Recent flooding around the country have shown that our uplands are severely depleted in water retention capacities. A healthy river needs healthy uplands which absorb water and slowly feed the rivers instead of fast runoff resulting in floods which damage the environment, towns and villages. Here are some photos showing Rod, and our lovely French volunteers Charlie and Caroline working with the various components like sheep wool, river rocks and rushesriver rocks being placed across a ditch--Charlie, Rod and Carolinesteady there they're getting heavier so hurry with that photothe finished "wall" across the ditchthank you Charlie and Caroline you did a great jo...