Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

Aigas Ranger Training: Part 1

21 February, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

For the next 8 weeks the Aigas rangers will follow a comprehensive research programme, taking an in depth look at the geology, history, mega and micro fauna and flora of the Scottish Highlands. Day 1 Ben, Aigas' Staff Naturalist, started the day with an introductory talk on the Eurasian beaver, Castor fiber, with focus on our collection here at Aigas, updating us on our beavers movements and behaviour throughout the winter months. Following this he took us on an interpretive walk around the loch giving rangers the chance to identify signs of animal activity and learn about the history behind Loch Cuil na Caillach ('the nook of the wailing woman', aka the Aigas Loch). Along the way we saw crested tits, red squirrels and a jay. Day 2
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Amazing Badger Behaviour Caught on Video

2 February, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

One of our regular guests at Aigas, Wendy, has recently sent us some stealth camera footage from a couple of her visits here last season, which included quite a few clips of badgers around the estate. Badgers (Meles meles) are generally solitary foragers and use their well developed sense of smell to find food. This clip shows an example of a badger searching a feeding area, maybe for earthworms or insects which are two of their main sources of food.   Badgers also have long claws on their fore paws which are useful for digging setts and foraging. Here we can see one using its claws to easily reach the food it has found. Sometimes badgers’ foraging grounds overlap which can cause disputes over food. An example
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The Big Garden Bird Watch

30 January, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

This weekend RSPB held their annual Big Garden Birdwatch. A nationwide wildlife (primarily bird) survey that is participated by half a million people. This year we got involved. Undeterred by the rain, our ranger team spread out across the estate, sitting at some of our many feeding stations to carry out the count. In the one hour, we recorded 17 different bird species. This included the tits – blue (Cyanistes caeruleus), great (Parus major), coal (Periparus ater) and crested (Lophophanes cristatus); dunnock (Prunella modularis), chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), siskin (Spinus spinus), yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), robin (Erithacus rubecula), treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), house sparrow (Passer domesticus), carrion crow (Corvus corone), raven (Corvus corax), blackbird (Turdus merula), great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto) and red kite (Milvus milvus).
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Three mammals, three facts

25 January, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

The pine marten, otter and red squirrel are three of the UK's most iconic mammal species, and at Aigas we are lucky enough to see them all regularly. Here are three things to know about our amazing fauna friends. Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) Their fur colour can range from a reddish brown to a deep brown. They undergo moults in spring and autumn, the latter producing a darker fur. This darker variation can be seen in the video below -  but be vigilant as the squirrel is quick to move! Some of you may have seen deer antlers hung up in various places and wondered why. Red squirrels gnaw on them to get calcium as their diet does not provide them with sufficient amounts. Squirrel pelt was
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Living alongside Chimpanzees in Uganda

24 January, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

I arrived in Hoima, Uganda, on Monday 15th, and since then it has been an absolute whirlwind of experiences, every one of them incredible. I spent a night in the Itahyo Forest where the Chimp Trust works with the community to manage the forest effectively for chimps and biodiversity. The forest is beautiful and peaceful, with a tree nursery inside being managed by the forester. The dedication of this man to the forest he has managed for decades is inspiring. During the evening a group of wild, unhabituated chimps decided to nest about 100m away from the lodge, meaning I was able to watch them the next morning for over an hour - another bucket list moment of this trip. I was not alone in watching these
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From Aigas to Ngamba

19 January, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Eazy, the newest chimp at Ngamba

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone in the Aigas community! Right now I'm sitting taking in the view over Lake Victoria listening to hundreds of birds and some very noisy chimps - I'm probably sitting in the same spot Kerri was 2 months ago when she wrote her blog. I am lucky enough to also be spending some time on Ngamba Island this winter. [caption id="attachment_1693" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Sunset over Lake Victoria[/caption] Firstly some updates from the island: Eazy the infant is doing well. He is still being integrated with the main group. It's a slow process but is going well. He still seems nervous around certain older members of the group, but he's been observed having some good playing time with the alpha male,
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Rural Skills at Aigas

22 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Over a period of 9 sessions, a group of S3/4 students studying Rural Skills at Inverness Royal Academy have been coming to Naturedays to get practical experience related to what they have been learning. Activities that the group of students have been carrying out include an estate tour, stream clearing, pothole filling, putting up fences, planting bulbs, path cutting, shrub pruning and maintenance and raking leaves. As well as all of this, over a few weeks they scrubbed the wooden balustrades of Hen House, one of the cabins that Aigas guests stay in during the season, to clean them and get all of the varnish off before adding a new layer of varnish so they look good as new. The most recent project they have been working
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Monkey Business

18 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

I am sat writing this blog post after watching the sun set over Lake Victoria. I am fortunate enough to be spending three weeks volunteering for The Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (The Chimpanzee Trust), an NGO based in Uganda which focuses on rescuing orphaned chimpanzees and working to tackle the problems that lead to these individuals becoming orphans in the first place. This involves working directly with communities who inhabit areas where wild, unprotected populations of chimpanzees are known to reside. Aigas Field Centre runs a staff exchange programme with the sanctuary so that we can share knowledge, skills and experience with fellow conservationists from completely different backgrounds.  Earlier this year we had the sanctuary manager and vet, Dr Titus, over to stay with us
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Toothed jaws on the west end

14 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Back in July the Aigas Loch was alive with fast, beautiful, prehistoric predators of the air. Their ancestors with 70cm wingspans were the largest creatures in the air 300 million years ago. Dragonflies are a pleasure to watch wherever you are in the world. Some people dub them the new birds with their rise in popularity amongst twitchers. Dragonflies don’t call or sing to give away their presence however their 2 sets wings beat at around 30 times a second often making an audible hum which draws your attention. [caption id="attachment_1629" align="aligncenter" width="551"] Spotted chaser[/caption] Our world is home to 5,900 species of dragonfly, we have 45 of them living in Great Britain & Ireland, 11 of which feed and breed on the Aigas estate. A stroll
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Naturedays at Aigas

7 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Possibly the most important work that the Aigas Trust funds is that of Naturedays. We provide environmental education to students from nursery to secondary school age. Each year over 5,000 students throughout the Highlands and islands of Scotland and beyond are taught by Naturedays on the estate, in local green spaces and in school grounds. For over 35 years we have tailored programmes for school children and adults to engage with the natural world and inspire people of all ages. Our programmes deliver Curriculum for Excellence, meaning teachers can leave with enthused students, but also tick off a few things from their syllabus. Some of the most loved sessions include bushcraft (fire lighting, shelter building, whittling), freshwater invertebrate investigation and map skills. Any readers that have visited
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