Monday 29 April 2013

Eagle Learns about Leks

Wow. An amazing sight very early this morning. While out counting black grouse lekking (displaying) as part of ongoing monitoring, a juvenile golden eagle appeared. The black grouse all disappeared in a flash and the young eagle didn't catch one, but it hung around. The urge to lek is so strong in the male black grouse that they started coming back fairly soon and the eagle had another swoop in.
A young eagle - note the white tail and white undersides to its wings

A male black grouse at a lek. An easy target???

I watched for about half an hour and the eagle had no luck. Black grouse are generally only occasional prey for an eagle, but if this one does learn to catch them, then he has breakfast lined up every spring as the birds not only congregate but make a bubbling call as well, alerting the eagle to where they are. However, as eagles are generally lazy hunters it might well be that it's all too much hassle.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Snow Melt Adds To Heavy Rainfall

The weather has been very wet here since the early hours of Sunday morning. Heavy rainfall combined with milder temperatures has meant that much of the snow from the higher ground has been melting, swelling the rivers and burns and making them run in high spate. You can see from the picture and video below just what a difference this can make

A tranquil view of Gilbert's Bridge in Glen Tilt on a 'normal' day.
The river is relatively calm. in this picture

The video above was taken from the top of Gilbert's Bridge on Sunday morning. 
The river was in heavy spate and flowing very fast!

Sunday 7 April 2013

Lambs and the Springtime

Well it must be spring because the lambs are appearing. The temperatures outside tell us it is still winter, but our cross-breed sheep started lambing last week. It should be a lovely time of year, but unfortunately the extreme cold weather has made things very tough for the ewes and lambs. There is no growth at all of the fresh, nutrient-rich grass which is so important at this time of year for the pregnant and lactating ewes. Our sheep lamb outside and would normally be grazing on the rich, green field now, but instead they are having to make do with winter rations. Some ewes are very hungry, others have re-absorbed lambs or lost them after they have been born. The mothers with triplets are suffering most as they have to give so much to their lambs. It will take some time now for the soil to warm up enough for the grass to grow, and until then we risk losing more lambs every day because the mothers can't provide enough for them. Sad indeed.

Mother and lamb in the 'special care unit'

You can help by keeping disturbance of the sheep to a  minimum by keeping to paths and keeping dogs on leads amongst the sheep.

You can also help struggling our sheep and cattle farmers throughout the country by making an effort to buy British meat.

Let's hope that by the time the Blackface lambs are due in May, things are looking a whole lot better for them.