Gordons ALIVE

Baby H has been taking his first wee flights over the last few days. So I’m very excited to get back on the moor this evening. However, it’s not without trepidation. With his flying, and his soon going further afield into the big wide world, comes danger. The first winter is already the most dangerous time of a raptor’s life. If they don’t perfect their hunting skills before the scarcer food season, they don’t make it through. For our Hen harrier fledgling the winter will come so much sooner as he was laid, hatched and raised so late in the season. And on top of that are the enormous perils that come with being a Hen harrier. Persecution. Man.

I have just been working at BirdFair for three days. I spoke with many experts over the future of Baby H. Folk who have been working to save Hen harriers for a long time. I heard the same phrase repeated by all…”when the chick dies”. No ifs. Depressing.

I call him Baby H. Chris Packham selected a name from public suggestions. Bonnie. The Geltsdale team have our own name for him though. Gordon. And right now Gordons ALIVE!

Taking the supplementary feed over to the feed post is an interesting journey. The terrain is a nightmare for someone with weak ankles. Each step is an absolute mystery. Will it be firm? Will it be wet and spongy? Will it be an invisible hole that swallows my leg? Will it send me off balance? Twenty minutes each way. The female Hen harrier circles above calling her chattering warning call. I line out the yellow poultry chicks along with one white rat. She only takes the rats if she’s really really hungry. They are apparently more nutritious than the chicks. But the chicks must be yummier! Daddy or chips. Ratty or chicks!

Another first. Walking down the track. Through the exact area where a Black grouse spring lek occurs. And what flew across my path just a few metres ahead of me? Yes, a glorious Black grouse. Jet black plumage. Red bits. Long tail. And then a few seconds later, a second male followed him. Awesome.

The midges continue to make my life and job a misery. I am now covered in bites. On my face, along my hairline, behind my ears, my neck, my arms. Itch, itch, itch. I swear, if my employers do not provide me with a midge net I am not coming back next week.

This morning I have company. The cattle have finally made their way to the hut. I have a bunch of them here just watching me whilst chewing their cud. One has been using the quad as a scratching post. Ooh, it looked blissful.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone


About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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