News and events: 9 – 15 May 2011

Intensive grazing sways sex ratio of bird chicks, lost and found caste in the North Pennines, canoeists rescued from Loch Ness, plus rural events to enjoy near you




Sex of chicks swayed by farm grazing

Grazing by farm animals can sway the sex ratio of birds, which could affect the species’ prospects, a UK research team has found.

It’s been discovered that meadow pipits poduce few males if land near their nests is either grazed heavily or not at all, with only light grazing bringing more males.

The reasons behind this are unclear. Meadow pipits make their nests at ground level, where the chicks’ feathers camouflage them.

Goats recognise their kids’ voices

Researchers have found that goats are able to recognise the voices of their very young kids, and can differentiate them from other animals’ offspring.

Queen Mary University of London conducted a study, playing recordings of kids’ bleats to female goats and studying their responses. Hearing the voice of their own offspring, females would react much faster – looking towards the speaker that the sound was coming from, and calling in response.

Scientists say that understanding how domestic livestock behave and communicate is very important for good animal welfare.

Lost and found castle in the North Pennines

A ‘lost’ castle that was once one of the most important buildings in the North Pennines and the gateway to the Bishop of Durham’s great deer park of Stanhope is now revealing its secrets after centuries as a forgotten ruin.

Fifty volunteers from the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Altogether Archaeology project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage are busy uncovering the ruins of Westgate Castle in Weardale.

Canoeists rescued from Loch Ness

Two canoeists were rescued by the Loch Ness RNLI after capsizing in Loch Ness near Urquhart Castle. They are now being treated in hospital.

The pair got into difficulty at around 4pm after the weather took a turn for the worse. Both were suffering varying degrees of hypothermia and have been taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.


Daphne Du Maurier Festival, 12-21 May
Fowey, Cornwall

Daphne Du Maurier’s beloved town of Fowey in Cornwall will play host to a programme of national and international writers and performers, guided walks, exhibitions and live music.

Buy tickets by phone on 0845 094 0428, or via their website.

Isle of Man Walking Festival, 15-20 May

May is the perfect time of year to see many of the 12 species of whale and dolphin that have been recorded off the coastline in recent years.

Expert walking guides will be on hand to reveal the secrets of these beautiful creatures as well as share stories on these gentle giants, who can grow to be the size of a bus.

There are several new walks added this year, including the 15 mile Herring Way and the challenging Millennium Way trek which covers a total distance of 24 miles spread over two days.

For more information phone 01624 664460 or visit

National Mills Weekend, 14-15 May
Nationwide locations

National Mills Weekend is a celebration of the UK’s milling heritage. Many wind and water mills throughout the country will be opening their doors to visitors on one or both days and there will be an emphasis on family-friendly activities.

This is a great opportunity to visit and explore some of our most iconic buildings, many of which are not usually open to the public. More mills than ever are expected to take part in National Mills Weekend 2011 and full details will be posted on the website.

Weird and Wonderful Wood, 14-15 May
Haughley Park, Wetherden, Suffolk

For those who love wood, this festival has become an annual experience not to be missed. For those fascinated by the beauty of wood and beautiful wooden objects, it is a rare chance to see how they are made and an opportunity to try making things for themselves, all in a truly stunning setting – both indoors and out.

Admission per day: Adults £5, Concessions £3, Children under 12 £2, and under three’s free. For further details please phone Tarby Davenport on 01359 240724 or email, or vsit their website.

Fifteen Cornwall’s Fifth Birthday, 18 May
Fifteen, Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Celebrate five years’ of Fifteen Cornwall at the restaurant’s birthday bash on the north coast at Watergate Bay. They are throwing open their doors for a night of food and fun. The evening will showcase the very best local food, prepared by the restaurant’s expert and apprentice chefs.

There will be a celebratory drink served on arrival, and the team will be cooking up a very special five-course birthday menu, yet to be revealed. To top it all off, the birthday feast will be followed by a disco by DJ Joe Fabian so you can dance into the night.


The cost of the evening is £75 per head. For more information and to book a table, call 01637 861000 or visit