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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Largest ever survey of Scottish wildcats commences

Photo:   Cairngorms Wildcat Project

The largest-ever survey of Scottish wildcats is now underway with more than 300 trail cameras live as from today.

The survey focuses on five of the wildcat priority areas of Scotland, including Strathpeffer, Strathbogie, Strathavon, North Strathspey and the Angus Glens. Work will be continuing in Morvern later in the year.

As part of Scottish Wildcat Action, these motion-sensitive cameras will monitor cats living in parts of the Highlands over a 60-day period.

Survey methods are informed by published scientific studies and a practical hands-on approach.

More than 130 volunteers will check the cameras. Data gathered will help inform wildcat protection measures including an extensive neutering campaign to stop feral and pet cats from interbreeding with the endangered wildcats and passing disease

Friday, 15 January 2016

Rewilding the Highlands and return of lynx in spotlight in Exeter and Plymouth

Eurasian lynx © Peter Cairns

Rewilding the Highlands – from restored forests to the return of predators such as the lynx – will be in the spotlight in Exeter and Plymouth today (14 January) and tomorrow at topical lectures featuring acclaimed writer George Monbiot and leading conservationist Alan Watson Featherstone, Founder of award-winning charity Trees for Life.

The sold-out events at the University of Exeter today and the University of Plymouth tomorrow will highlight the benefits of rewilding – the restoration of damaged natural ecosystems, and

Saturday, 9 January 2016

New era begins for leading volunteering conservation charity in Scotland

Trees for Life Founder Alan Watson Featherstone (left)
 with new Chief Executive Officer Steve Micklewright
at the charity’s main office in Findhorn, Moray

Thirty years after founding award-winning charity Trees for Life, acclaimed conservationist Alan Watson Featherstone this week stepped down as the organisation’s Executive Director to take up a new role as Founder and Visionary, with Steve Micklewright becoming new Chief Executive Officer.

Alan Watson Featherstone said: “This marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Trees for Life. I’m delighted to welcome Steve Micklewright as our new Chief Executive Officer, and I look forward to working closely with him to further expand and develop Trees for Life’s work to help restore the Caledonian Forest. It’s also a time to pay tribute to the excellent work of Trees for Life’s present and

Stranded Scottish orca Identified as member of UK’s only known resident population of killer whales

Lulu found stranded on Tiree
©John Bowler, RSPB Scotland; 
A killer whale found dead, stranded on Tiree on 3 January has been identified as ‘Lulu’, a member of the West Coast Community of orcas. This small and well-known group is Britain and Ireland’s only known resident population of killer whales and is feared to be at risk of extinction. They are unique in this region in that their diet primarily comprises other marine mammals. A second type of killer whales are occasionally seen in these waters, but these feed primarily on fishes and seals and are far more wide-ranging, e.g. between the Hebrides and Iceland.

The identity of the animal was confirmed this week by Dr Andy Foote, an orca specialist and Dr Conor Ryan of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Using photos from the Trust’s photo ID catalogue the pair were able to identify Lulu from the distinctive eye and saddle patches which are unique to each individual. Photos taken of the stranded orca by John Bowler, RSPB Scotland Tiree Officer were crucial to allow HWDT to identify the animal.

Dr Conor Ryan, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s Sighting and Stranding Officer commented: “It is particularly sad to know that another one of these killer whales, unique to the British and Irish Isles,

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Rewilding Scotland and tackling climate change for Christmas

Scots pine seedling in snow
I'm posting this late due to broadband and computer issues during the last month and hope you're having a good holiday despite all the recent flooding.

People can help rewild the Scottish Highlands and take action on climate change this Christmas and New Year by having specially-dedicated trees planted for family and friends through conservation charity Trees for Life.

A dedicated native tree will be planted in the Caledonian Forest for each recipient of Trees

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Beaver shooting must stop. Scottish Wild Beaver Group Press Release.



European beaver feeding © Laurie Campbell
News of the shooting of beavers in Tayside by some farmers has led to an outcry from supporters, conservationists, and animal lovers everywhere. Of especial concern is the fact that, while an overdue decision from Scottish Government to adopt the protection due to the species under the European Habitats Directive, there is not even a closed season and the females can therefore be shot pregnant or lactating, killing kits slowly by starvation.

SWBG call for an immediate moratorium on shooting in advance of an early decision to enshrine EU legal protection of the species in Scotland.

Louise Ramsay, Co-Chair of SWBG says: “We flew a

Monday, 23 November 2015

Initiative with Kew Gardens to Protect Scotland’s Trees Takes Root

Juniperus communis (Common juniper)
With a host of new pests and diseases attacking the UK’s native treescape, a new consortium of Scottish organisations, working with Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, are tackling the threat, as part of the UK National Tree Seed Project.

The UK does not currently have comprehensive and genetically representative seed collections of native tree populations for research and use in practical conservation. The UK National Tree Seed Project, launched in 2013, seeks to fill the gap and will make seed collections available for researchers working on challenges facing UK woodlands and forestry such as pests and diseases and climate change.  The Project

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Emergency tree rescue appeal launched for West Affric woodlands

Trees for Life team inspecting a section of
damaged fence in West Affric
Conservation charity Trees for Life has launched an emergency rescue appeal to protect tens of thousands of young trees on West Affric from grazing deer.

A new generation of trees – many planted by Trees for Life volunteers – has become established on West Affric over the past 20 years, after Trees for Life and the National Trust for Scotland created a series of 10 fenced exclosures. The exclosures – areas from which large grazing animals are excluded – were designed to boost the recovery of native woodland by preventing the pressure of browsing deer.

But recent damage to the fences has left many of these trees vulnerable to grazing by deer, and Trees for Life

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Minke whale baby boom off Scotland’s west coast? Highest number of young recorded since surveys began

Juvenile minke whale alongside HWDT’s research
yacht Silurian - copyright 
Kerry Froud
Sightings of juvenile minke whales off Scotland’s west coast increased in 2015 to the highest ever recorded within a survey season, during marine research expeditions carried out by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust – indicating either a significant increase in actual numbers or an influx of minke whales from elsewhere.

The charity’s 2015 research season also recorded the highest annual number of common dolphin sightings since its expeditions began, with 723 individuals observed over 63 encounters. The common dolphin was once uncommon in the Hebrides, but the trust’s encounter rate

In Memory of Kali - 6th January 2005 to 22nd July 2015

9 weeks on the doorstep at Scatwell

Kali had been my constant companion for ten and a half years when at the end of June this year she suddenly started having fits.

Epilepsy drugs seemed to work for about three weeks and then the seizures started again with a vengeance and three days later she had gone.

I still haven't quite come to terms with her passing which is why it's taken me three months to post this collection of pictures taken throughout her life.

She was one of the most gentle, even tempered, friendly and attentive beings I have ever had the privilege to know.

She was always a lady even when confronted with people or dogs she obviously didn't take to. Everybody liked her and I absolutely loved her.

I do not want her to be forgotten.

9 weeks and discovering snow for the first time.
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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.