Comment on Wanted: Your thoughts on our new Skydancer film

Anything that draws attention to the plight of these fantastic birds,along with other raptors,must be welcomed with open arms.Our local club's recording area covers a large part of the "Yorkshire black hole for raptors" and we worry every time we get a report of Hen Harriers seen in the area.Not sure what the solution is but our members do keep our eyes and ears open when out on the local moors.

Growing up

Over the Bank holiday weekend Ebb and Flo's adult plumage has come through, it started just below their wings and then on their shoulders and chests. Then spend ages in the pond ducking underwater - lots of down is floating on the surface. On the bank they spend a lot of time preening and I think they eat the down too. Their undersides seem to have got fully feathered first which makes sense and I think Ebb might be a boy as dark blue feathers are showing through on his head.



Ducklings

Discovered how much ducklings like worms, they were fighting over them in the polytunnel. They also had a whale of a time in the pond, they are getting used to being herded into the carrier to be taken out, much harder to get them to go back in though.



Learning to quack

This morning we put the ducklings in the new pen round the pond - they were so happy dabbling in the mud, diving under water and having a general good clean, flicking water over their backs and waggling their stubby little wings and tails. I also put them in the polytunnel for a while where they happily searched for worms and slugs.  They are getting more used to us, they sit quietly on their bit of grass in the bathroom instead of running off - it does make you feel like you are being talked about though as they start contact calling as soon as we are out of sight. They also like to run up and down the long landing and into the office when we are working and come and sit near our feet. Just now one has been trying to quack, it was very subdued and sounded a bit damp and also made the other duckling look confused.




Ducklings

We now have two ducklings living in the bathroom and are busy building a pen for them to go out into. This doesn't seem to surprise anyone. On Wednesday evening I thought the drake seemed to be playing a little rough with the ducklings, when they dived in the pond he dived after and chased them. Then on Thursday evening I realised he was actually attempting to hold them under. He was also mating with their mum.  We were surprised as they had all seemed to be getting on for at least a week. On Friday morning the ducklings turned up on their own and we sat and watched for three hours with no sign of mum and drake, so we rounded them up and brought them in before cats, crows or buzzards noticed them. This sounds a lot easier than it was. They constantly cheep but luckily not overnight and come and sit in the office with us. We put pots of reeds in front of the carrier in an attempt to make them feel more secure as the were hiding in reeds from us when we caught them. The carrier now seems to be their place of safety they run to it if nervous and sleep in it overnight. The grass is there for them to eat along with the grain in the hopper and water in the dish to drink and sit in. We are not handling them unless necessary as hopefully they will be going back into the wild.


Ducks back and Lidl wildflowers

Pleased to say the duck returned with her ducklings the same evening, though sad to say she was down to two by the next day, we do wonder if she had got seperated from them during the bad weather and then buzzards or crows noticed them. Anyway they are visiting twice a day and she now has a drake in tow and all of them are making full use of the pond. The ducklings love to dive and swim under water from one side of the pond to the other, leaving a trail of bubbles on the surface.The Lidl wildflower mix has done really well and we take the fleece off during the day so the seedlings can harden off.





Missing Birds

Really sad today as our lovely duck turned up with no ducklings - to be honest we had been expecting it from past experience but had hoped it least one would make it. Doubly sad as on breakfast news this morning it said that three male hen harriers had gone missing in the Forest of Bowland leading to the abandonment of two nests. On the plus side, the swallows and pied wagtails are all busy making nests.

Wildflower Survey in Yarrow Valley C.P.

PictureEmerging leaf of Impatiens Noli tangere
The Bio Diversity Society  Group met at Lancashire's Yarrow Valley Country Park to survey the flora of Burgh Wood which rises steeply above the Big Lodge taking the group away from the footpaths that would normally be crowded with dog walkers and visitors to the park.  Today, however, constant rain had kept all but the most determined indoors and we had the area very much to ourselves.
We were supported by David Earl, BSBI Recorder for the two vice counties of Lancashire, VC59 & VC 60 who guided us through the identification processes and determined our findings.
These included:

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera, Dog's Mercury Mercurialis perennis, Touch-me-not Balsam Impatiens noli tangere, Water Crowfoot Ranunculus aquatilis, Thornless Blackberry Rubus canadiensis, Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris, Hybrid Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta x H. hispanica, Three-nerved Sandwort Moehringia trinervia, Large Bitter Cress Cardamine amara, Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata, Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris, Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium, Ramsons Allium ursinum, Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifrage Chrysoplenium oppositifolium, Enchanters Nightshade Circaea lutetiana, Field Horsetail Equisetum arvense, Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannibinum, Herb Robert Geranium robertianum, Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea, Water Avon Geranium rivale, Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi.


However when transcribing my notes a this point my notepad gave out having been soaked through in the unrelenting rain and the remainder of my finds must remain a mystery. David Earl reminds me though that despite the rain over 100 species were recorded in Burgh Wood.

This part of the Biological Heritage Site contains a wealth of species that deserve closer attention and I will be returning armed, perhaps with a waterproof notebook, and camera to record more Chorley's valuable flora.




Blog Post: Wanted: Your thoughts on our new Skydancer film

If you haven’t already seen our new Skydancer film, please a spare 10 minutes and watch it here . Made by Northumberland-based Haltwhistle Film Project , we hope it offers an engaging and inspiring introduction to hen harriers and the challenges they face. Filmed in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Derbyshire, the work features interviews from all sides of the hen harrier debate, as well as animations and scenes from last year’s Hen Harrier Day. We would really like to know what you think of the film. Love it or hate it, please email your thoughts to julie.chrisp@rspb.org.uk .  We are going to evaluate the whole Skydancer project later this year and your views will feed into our final report.  

Getting to grips with wildflower keys

Kevin Widdowson, Education Officer at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts's Idle Valley Reserve has set up a closed Facebook group to help people learning to ID wildflowers using France Rose's Wildflower Key.

You can share your tribulations with others in the group as you learn the botanist's vocabulary and find your way  through the couplets to the plant family and then on to the species you are working on.
I have just successfully worked my way to the answer with plants that I knew well,  Lesser Celandine Ranuculus ficaria and White Dead Nettle Lamium album and was very interested to see the points at which others had got stuck.

You can find the group at:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Howtouseyourwildlflowerfieldguide/