Quick update

A female hen harrier trying to see me off from its nest (which I was visiting under licence) in 1997

A quick post as an update. Sorry the order of the various posts has got in a muddle. Don’t know how that’s happened, but my grandson and/or grand-daughter might manage to fix it at the weekend. It’s another baffling aspect of modern technology! For anyone looking for details of how to buy my latest book Wildlife and the Law the relevant post has slipped further down the list of posts.

When I go a walk in the countryside I write a wee report once I get home. I intend, amongst other things, to begin to copy some of these reports starting tomorrow.

Just after I submitted the most recent post the buzzard flew past the window carrying a long-tailed field mouse.  The fact I could identify it with the naked ( and slightly degenerating) eye shows how close the bird was. The following morning one of the red squirrels (white-tip) failed to appear and my wife, Jan, and I were both worried as to what might have happened to it. Had the buzzard or the cat been lucky; had the missing squirrel died (unlikely since it is a perfectly healthy wee beastie); had it moved on to pastures new? By 10.00 o’clock we were really worried, but I steadfastly refused to commit to any of these options without the all-important evidence – a relic of nearly half a century of policing.

I was looking out the window to the back of the garden and Jan was looking out to the front. Suddenly we had a red squirrel in view simultaneously. We were so relieved, but it demonstrated that assumptions just can’t be made and that evidence is required before a conclusion can be drawn.

A flock of fieldfares landed briefly in the larch trees in the garden this morning: only the second flock I’ve seen this year. A covey of red-legged partridges were in the field behind the house at midday. I’ve occasionally seen grey partridges there but the redlegs are something new. Though I like red-legged partridges, grey partridges, along with hen harriers, are my favourite birds.  It is really unfortunate that both are under threat in Scotland, grey partridges because of changes in farming practices and hen harriers because of persecution, both man-made problems for our wildlife.

The photograph is of a female hen harrier trying to see me off when I visited a nest under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage during a project with school children I ran in 1997 to draw attention to the plight of the hen harrier on grouse moors (I’ll say a bit more about this in due course). They are absolutely beautiful birds, and one of the few that will face up humans invading their nesting territory. They richly deserve their place among moorland birds.

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