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Updates and posts to this web site are delayed due to ongoing problems I am having with internet access. This is because of the degradation of the existing phone line infrastructure which it is hoped will be upgraded by the end of 2017.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

‘Project Wolf’ helps restore Highland woodland

Pictured (L-R): Volunteer wolf pack
Dora Clouttick, James Robertson and Matt McMullen
at Dundreggan Conservation Estate

Project Wolf – a unique new conservation programme in which volunteers replicate the natural disturbance effects of Scotland’s extinct predators – has been launched in the Highlands near Loch Ness by Trees for Life.

Project Wolf is being trialled at the charity’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston, Inverness-shire, lying to the west of Loch Ness. It involves volunteers operating in teams of three ‘wolves’, regularly walking through the ancient woodlands during the night and at dusk and dawn, creating disturbance that will keep deer on the move.

“Grazing pressure on young trees by too many deer,

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Marine traffic pressures on Scotland’s cetaceans to be studied using navigation safety technology

Volunteers and scientists onboard Silurian
 copyright 
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

Electronic navigation safety technology is to be used to study the potential impacts of marine traffic on whale, dolphin and porpoise species off western Scotland in a new season of research expeditions launched by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust this week.

For the first time, scientists and trained volunteers onboard the conservation charity’s specialized research yacht Silurian will use an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder to collect detailed data on other vessels’ movements. This will be combined with sightings and underwater acoustic monitoring of cetaceans – the collective name for

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Public asked to report rare hen harrier sightings

Female Hen Harrier - Scottish Natural Heritage
The public is being asked to report any hen harrier sightings this year by the ‘Heads Up for Harriers’ project group. Run by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland), this is one part of the effort to help rare hen harriers.
Hen harriers frequent many Scottish moors, where their acrobatic aerial courtship displays are a tell-tale sign of breeding activity. But their distribution and numbers are still restricted in some areas.

A number of causes, including illegal persecution, land use changes and predation, have resulted in a reduction in hen harrier numbers, to the point that the hen harrier is now one of Britain’s rarest birds of prey. In reality, however, many factors are likely to come

Thursday, 14 April 2016

25th anniversary bid to extend Glen Affric woodlands towards Scotland’s west coast

Planted Scots pines at Athnamulloch 1
A quarter century of volunteering conservation action in the Highlands is being marked by Trees for Life this month, with a new initiative aiming to expand Scotland’s Caledonian Forest from Glen Affric towards the west coast.

The bid to restore life to deforested parts of the famous glen comes as the award-winning charity next week marks the 25th anniversary of its acclaimed Conservation Weeks, in which volunteers from around the world carry out practical conservation action to protect Scotland’s natural environment.

Trees for Life’s Back to Our Roots appeal is seeking

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Famous killer whale from 1977 never left the neighbourhood

Comet 02.09.2007      Copyright HWDT Genevieve Leaper

The true identity of a famous killer whale known as ‘Dopey Dick’ – who sparked widespread attention when he swam into Derry-Londonderry almost 40 years ago – has at last been identified, thanks to photographs published on social media.

The orca attracted headlines in November 1977, when he made his way up the River Foyle and into the city, apparently in pursuit of salmon, before remaining five kilometres upriver of Loch Foyle for two days. Incredulous at the sight and confused about the whale’s behaviour, locals dubbed him

Saturday, 2 April 2016

A raccoon has been spotted in the wild near Garve in Ross-shire

Raccoon in the Blackwater river catchment area

This news release from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) particularly caught my attention because recently while walking a wooded track to the south west of Inverness my path was crossed by a black Leopard like animal about the height of a medium sized dog. It makes one wonder what else is out there.

Raccoons have been identified in Scotland as one of the top 50 invasive, non-native species most likely to be introduced and cause negative impacts. They are currently kept as pets and zoo animals, and there have been several escapes in the last few years.

Raccoons are native to North America, where they are

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Great Crane Project in Somerset

Ltl Acorn 6310MG with standard lens

A while ago I was contacted by Damon Bridge, the Species Recovery Officer at The Great Crane Project in Somerset who asked if I could help him with the GPRS/SMTP setup for Ltl Acorn 6310MG cameras they were using to monitor predators in the project area.

I suggested he might like to send some images at some point to show progress and last week I received the following comment and pictures.

"Ltl Acorn 6310 cameras are being used by The Great Crane Project in Somerset to keep an eye on the movements of predators and to help inform the project team about incidences of disturbance. 

Cameras successfully showed that short sections of predator proof fencing erected across gateway entrances to fields caused predators to turn around and retrace their steps, rather than entering specific

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Trees for Life rewilding project wins global conservation competition

Scots pines in snow at Coille Ruigh na Cuileigemed
Scotland’s only entry in a leading global conservation competition has won funding of more than £20,000 to address biodiversity loss and deforestation in the Highlands, including through the planting of 50,000 native trees and the creation of habitats that will offer a lifeline to endangered and rare wildlife.

Trees for Life’s Rewilding the Highlands initiative has won the Alpine category of the 2016 European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) Conservation Vote, securing more than 7,000 votes and widespread social media support in a tightly contested international online vote that was held

Beaver reintroduction a golden opportunity for Scotland

European beaver feeding © Laurie Campbell
Allowing beavers to be reintroduced to Scotland would be a golden opportunity offering wide-ranging environmental, social and economic benefits, said award-winning conservation charity Trees for Life today.

With the Scottish Government due to decide on whether Eurasian beavers will be allowed to live freely in Scotland after an absence of some 500 years, Trees for Life is urging ministers to fully recognise the beaver as a resident, native species.

It is nine months since Scottish Natural Heritage reported to the Scottish Government on the Scottish Beaver Trial – a five-year trial reintroduction of

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Scotland’s only entry in major international competition aims to address biodiversity loss and deforestation

Pine marten © Laurie Campbell
Scotland’s only entry in a leading international conservation competition could this week secure funding to address biodiversity loss and deforestation in the Highlands.

Trees for Life’s Rewilding the Highlands initiative will receive more than £20,000 from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) if it wins an online public vote, which is open to anyone until Tuesday 22 March.

The project  competing against three other shortlisted finalists in the bi-annual competition’s ‘Alpine’ category  will involve ambitious habitat creation to support endangered and rare wildlife, the

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Voting urged for ambitious Rewilding the Highlands project

 Glen Affric © Laurie Campbell
An ambitious Highlands project aiming to establish one of the UK’s most inspiring examples of rewilding – with habitat creation for rare and endangered wildlife such as golden eagles and Scottish wildcats, the planting of 50,000 trees and a substantial boost for wildlife tourism – is to be launched if conservation charity Trees for Life wins an online vote to secure a major European funding award.

The charity’s Rewilding the Highlands project has been shortlisted to receive more than £20,000 in the European Outdoor Conservation Association’s (EOCA’s) funding scheme, with the outcome to be determined by online voting that will take place over

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,
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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.