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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Protecting Scottish trees for the future at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank

Award winning Scottish charity Trees for Life is helping to secure the future of Scotland’s native trees by collecting seed from wild tree species in the North-West Highlands. The seeds are being stored in the underground vaults of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank – forming part of the UK’s first national collection of tree seeds.

The UK National Tree Seed Project has been set up by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to help protect UK trees and woodlands against pests and diseases such as ash dieback and other threats. The collections are used by researchers working on solutions to tackle the issues facing the UK’s woodlands and is funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The seeds contributed by Trees for Life to Kew’s vaults so far are equivalent to around 160,000 trees. This includes a unique collection of ash seeds, known as keys, harvested from the most northerly ash wood in Britain at Rassal in the Highlands. Professional climbers helped to collect the ash keys from this

Boost for Scotland’s international reputation for wilderness and wildlife

Glen Affric © Ron Bury


Scotland’s international reputation as a key destination for experiencing world-class wild landscapes and outstanding wildlife is to be boosted by Trees for Life joining a prestigious and growing European association of rewilding projects.

The conservation charity was invited to become a member of the European Rewilding Network – placing its restoration of the globally unique Caledonian Forest in the Highlands, especially in Glen Affric and Glenmoriston, firmly on the European map.

A key focus of the network is to show how rewilding – the restoration of damaged natural ecosystems – can benefit economic development, including through

Thursday, 16 November 2017

SNH and partners testing new ways to protect lambs from sea eagles

White tailed sea eagle
Trials are underway by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and its partners on how to reduce the impact of sea eagle predation on sheep farming.

Removing trees where sea eagles nest next to lambing areas and new scaring methods are two techniques being tested on a small number of 'monitor farms' in west coast locations. These methods are being trialled in places where other management measures, such as extra shepherding, have failed to prevent loss of livestock.
SNH granted a licence this week to Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) to fell two trees where sea eagles have nested previously. The trees are on the

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Voting urged to help save Scotland’s Great yellow bumblebee

Great yellow bumblebee on clover by Gordon Mackie
An ambitious project in the Outer Hebrides to save the Great yellow bumblebee – which some experts believe is the UK’s most endangered bumblebee – is to be launched if the Bumblebee Conservation Trust wins an online vote.

The charity’s ‘Help find our bumblebees. Where’s Bombus?’ project needs votes to be entered into the finals of the Aviva Community Fund, where it could potentially win £25,000. Voting is open to anyone and runs to 21 November 2017. 

Votes can be cast at http://bit.ly/2hdfb82.

Success would enable the Bumblebee Conservation

Monday, 6 November 2017

Red squirrel reintroduction success with breeding and natural expansion

Red squirrel © Peter Cairns www.scotlandbigpicture.com
A project by Trees for Life relocating red squirrels to their old forest homes in northwest Scotland has been boosted by evidence of breeding and natural expansion by the new populations.

The conservation charity is reintroducing squirrels to suitable native woodlands in the Highlands, from which the species has been lost. Because reds travel between trees and avoid crossing large open spaces, they can’t return to these isolated forest fragments on their own.

Early indications are that this could be a real wildlife success story. The new squirrel populations are not only flourishing and breeding in their new homes, they

Monday, 23 October 2017

Captured Beauly Beaver Deaths: “Beavers require protection”

European beaver feeding © L.Campbell
Today came the depressing news that Scottish Natural Heritage's (SNH) attempts to, as they put it, relocate beavers living on the river Beauly, culminated in three animals being trapped, two of which have subsequently died.

The reason given for the relocation is that the beavers had been illegally released and despite the fact that the beavers have been peacefully living on the river Beauly for several years without causing any problems, it would seem that human legalities are considered more important than animal welfare. 

Below is a press release from Trees for Life

Reacting to news that two beavers trapped near

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Appeal to save ice age heritage of Scotland’s national tree

Dead Scots pine, or snag, silhouetted against shafts of
sunlight over Gleann na Ciche & Loch Affric
Trees for Life has launched an initiative to save ancient Scots pines across the Highlands of Scotland from becoming the last generation in a lineage of trees dating back to the last ice age.

Through its Caledonian Pinewood Recovery Project, the conservation charity wants to help restore 50 areas of remnant and neglected pinewoods – mainly made up of lone, ancient ‘Granny’ pines which are over 200 years old but dying as they stand, with no young trees to succeed them.

The fragments – scattered over a large area – face growing threats from overgrazing by deer, tree diseases and climate change, and are at risk of

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Standard versus Wide angle lens comparison in Ltl Acorn wildlife cameras.

Fig 1: 5310 and 5310W


Ltl Acorn first introduced cameras with a wide angle lens option early in 2014 and there are now several models with this option which are identified by the letter W in the model number.

I was an instant convert because much of what I use these cameras for is wildlife close up with a need to see as far to the sides as possible in enclosed woodland settings.

Depending on the type of use you intend there are some basics that need consideration such as the size of the subject and its distance from the camera.

With the wide angle lens the closest focus is down to about 30cm where with the standard lens it is about a metre. Subjects will also be smaller in the frame at a given distance compared to the standard lens.

I created the composite image in figure 2 to provide an easy reference to determine which lens is best  for your

Saturday, 2 September 2017

No screen in test mode caused by faulty switch


This post deals with a problem which occasionally occurs with all models of  Ltl Acorn cameras and probably with many other makes of trail camera. It is caused by dirty switch contacts and symptomised by a blank control panel screen when the camera is switched to TEST.

Fig 2: Dismantled OFF/ON/TEST switch
No screen in TEST can also be caused by not inserting an SD card in the SD card slot, or by a faulty SD card but in

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

SWA to work in the five areas which are of most benefit to Scottish wildcat preservation

Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)
Photo: Peter Cairns

Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) has announced that its five-year project to save Scotland’s wildcats is to focus on five key areas, where evidence suggests that at least 19 wildcats are roaming free.

The shift in focus comes after years of extensive survey work across nine areas helped the SWA team narrow its aim to five areas, which will allow for the most effective use of the programme’s limited resources.
Scottish Wildcat Action is a national project supported by the Heritage
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.