Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

The Rewards of Walking in the Hills

19 April, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Back in February, Pete and I decided to hit the hills of Glen Affric armed with warm boots, plenty of layers and ice axes for a day of winter walking. With the Highlands still firmly in the grip of winter’s freezing fingers, we had a limited number of daylight hours to play with. With our alarms set for 4:30am, we aimed to be walking by sunrise. Being woken up at such an early hour always feels a little painful, but once you are outside the sacrifice pays off. I find being surrounded by nature at this time a moving experience, hearing the dark morning silence broken by the song of a robin or the movement of a roe deer in the bushes and seeing the first rays
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Aigas Ranger Training: Part 2

23 February, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Over the last week we have done a lot of walking, wandering through local straths, glens, farms, forests and along the shore discovering Scotland’s spectacular array of wildlife and delving into its great history. Day 1 On Monday we explored a beautiful route through Forestry commission woodland, past a loch, landing us in the wonderful Victorian village of Strathpeffer. Jonathan Willet challenged us to see (or hear) ten species of birds on the short walk and in no time at all we had coal, blue and great tits ticked off, soon followed by chaffinch, treecreeper, robin and wren. Towards the end, and to our delight, we heard calling crossbills, croaking crows, the drumming of a greater spotted woodpecker and a large flock of siskins fluttering between the
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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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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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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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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
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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
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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.
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