Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

Whisky and Wildlife – My Aigas Week

22 November, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Saturday evening, our first evening and all the course participants are gathered in the common room, already making friendships and eagerly awaiting our introduction. I have been to Aigas before but it is still a special feeling, the warmth and anticipation of the week to come. First things first though and, only travelling from Carlisle I have come by car and the lovely journey through the Borders and into the Highlands is part of the holiday for me. I have plenty of time to take to the more quiet routes, looking for wildlife and enjoying the stunning autumn scenery. I time my arrival, as suggested, in time for afternoon tea. I mingle with others who have been picked up from the airport or railway station and we
Continue Reading...

Saving Scotland’s Highland Tiger

16 November, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Last week Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) convened at Culloden Battlefield for a forum which we had the privilege to attend. As Aigas Field Centre plays a role in the conservation breeding programme it was a great opportunity for us to learn how SWA were getting on elsewhere. SWA is an action plan supported by the Scottish Government and Heritage Lottery Fund - united by a group of experts with the ultimate goal of saving the UK’s only remaining native feline, the Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), from extinction. The ‘Highland Tiger’ appears like a tabby cat but more muscular and has slightly different pelage. The wildcat can be differentiated by having a dorsal stripe that does not extend into the tail, a broad, flat head, and dark
Continue Reading...

Polly the pine marten is thriving at Aigas

9 November, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

We were contacted by Hessilhead back in August who had received a pine marten kit and wanted to know if we might be able to release it at Aigas. After weeks of rehabilitative care at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre, Gay and Andy Christie brought her to Aigas where she was temporarily housed in an enclosure designed and built by our Staff Naturalist, Ben Jones, in a patch of woodland in the Aigas gardens. Ben set up Bushell stealth cams around the pen and we watched of the following nights as our local pine martens came up to the enclosure to see Polly. With no evidence of aggression or worrying behaviour from Polly or the other pine martens we release her onto the Aigas estate. Since then, we
Continue Reading...

Strathconon

24 October, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Of all the days out I have done during my time at Aigas, Strathconon has been one of the days I have done the most with guests. Being a deer estate, it is always a pleasure to see our largest land mammal, the red deer (Cervus elaphus), especially in the rutting season. The trees are now changing into warm, golden, autumnal colours and this, with the addition of roaring stags, is a real immersion of Scottish nature! Here are a few photos of why it is such a beautiful valley and some of the wildlife that can be encountered here… [easingslider id="1508"] Photos and words by Aigas ranger Emilie Shuttlewood

In Awe at Udale Bay

16 October, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Our trip to the Black Isle started spectacularly for the guests, with twelve or so bottlenose dolphins swimming alongside the Ecoventures boat. Whilst I waited for the group to return from sea, I spent two hours scanning the shore line in Cromarty Bay with a telescope and, after only spotting a few gulls and redshank (Tringa totanus), I was glad to move on. We stopped just before Udale Bay to observe two rafts of about a hundred greater scaup (Aythya marila) that were drifting close to the shoreline - a rather extraordinary view, we spent a long time watching these elegant birds. In the distance there was the odd cormorant (Phalacrocoracidae), bobbing grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and a handful of red-breasted mergansers (Mergus serrator). After about 30
Continue Reading...

Red Squirrel Sightings at Aigas

10 October, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Here at Aigas, we’re having great luck with our new red squirrel hide. The hide is very cosy with a turf roof. It has been up for a month now and since then we’ve been topping it up with peanuts and hazelnuts. The squirrels are very partial to the hazelnuts - they are now caching them for winter. The hazelnuts also provide the squirrels with almost all of the nutrients they require (peanuts alone don’t provide much calcium or vitamins). I was lucky enough to have a great squirrel encounter last week. As I was passing the hide I was caught in a sudden downpour so decided to take shelter inside. After around twenty minutes there was a scratching sound on the back wall, which travelled upwards
Continue Reading...

Fungi are the Future!

3 October, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Since starting work here at Aigas I have become quite a fungus fanatic, the mysterious nature of this kingdom of life absolutely fascinates me and I hope to pass this love of all things fungi onto others! Did you know that fungi are classified within their own kingdom? Many people don’t, it is only in relatively recent years that the study of fungi started to be carried out separately from plant science. This is understandable, fungi are mostly found in the same habitats as plants and like plants they do not move. However it is incredibly sad that fungi have been overlooked and understudied for so long, as they are not only fascinating but also crucial to life as we know it. Despite their close association with
Continue Reading...

A Morning to Remember at the Aigas Loch

28 September, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Determined to see an osprey fishing on the Aigas loch I made my way to the Kingdom hide at the ungodly hour of 4.30am. The hide is situated on the banks of the loch and offers excellent views over the water whilst also providing shelter and welcome relief from the midges. Having had fantastic views of a beaver feeding the previous night I was hoping that my luck would continue. I can tell you now that it most certainly did. Whilst waiting for an osprey to appear I occupied myself by scanning the furthest bank in roughly the same area the beaver had been the night before. Sure enough I managed to spot it again looking like a small furry island breaking the surface of the water.
Continue Reading...

The First Frost

25 September, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

The autumnal equinox and our first grass frost this morning.  I was out and about early checking out the very visible animal trails through the frosty grass.  A small group of red deer hinds came through in the night, perhaps 8-10, right through the gardens and past the slumbering guests’ lodges.  Our habitual badgers, normally undetected, left distinct trails and hundreds of snuffle holes where they had been gorging on earthworms and crane fly larvae, building the brown fat they need before the winter closes in.  And, surprise, surprise, a pine marten came through ever hopeful that we had left the hen house hatch open.  He cheekily left a neat pile of semi-digested rowan berries on the top of the gate.  I guess it's his regular run,
Continue Reading...

A Day on the West Coast

14 September, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

A day on the west coast of Scotland is the highlight for many of our guests during their week here at Aigas. I remember experiencing it for the first time during ranger training, which is a comprehensive 6 week training programme set up for us rangers on our arrival to this beautiful place in the wild Highlands. We are taken through absolutely everything there is to know, from geology and history, right through to the best places for wildlife spotting, and within those 6 weeks you start feeling like the Highlands has become your home. The west coast day is the longest day that we take guests on, but well worth the breath-taking views across the Minch (the water between the mainland and the Outer Hebrides), as
Continue Reading...