Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

Aigas Ranger Training – Part 4

27 March, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

A fresh fall of snow turned the Highlands into a stunning icy landscape. On Monday we revisited Culloden Battlefield and Clava Cairns. By understanding the history of these sites, we can understand some of the human factors that have shaped the Highland landscape into what we see today. These are sites that our more historical programmes visit alongside wilder places. On Tuesday we visited ex-ranger, Jack Ward is Reserve Officer for Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. We were able to get an insight into the running of their reserve and how they manage the deer population. We also had a look at their tree nursery which has inspired our own Staff Naturalist, Ben Jones. The reserve is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and is aided by dedicated
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Aigas Ranger Training: Part 3

9 March, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Day 1 We started the week with an early morning run to the Inverness shore looking for otters. To our delight we spotted a mother and her cub. Following that great success we headed to the east coast to explore for wildlife on sea lochs, freshwater lochs and sand dune habitats. We had shows from an array of wading birds, seals (common/harbour and grey/atlantic), kestrel, sparrowhawk and, best of all, a peregrine falcon hunting wood pigeons! Day 2 Dan Puplett, a freelance woodland ecologist, spent the day with us teaching us about – you guessed it – woodland ecology. We visited an ancient remnant of Caledonian pine that is found in one of our local glens to identify trees in their winter ‘coat’. Looking at the trees
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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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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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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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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
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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
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Two days, five ospreys

7 September, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Last week I was lucky enough to see two ospreys perching by the Aigas Loch. It was 6am and the loch was very peaceful, just myself and one of our guests. We were able to watch the ospreys gliding and perching for an hour. I was even able to take an extremely blurry photo. This was such a special experience as the ospreys will be leaving for their migration to Africa very soon. Their route will most likely take them south over England, France and Spain, then crossing over Gibraltar before they fly down the western coast of Africa where they will spend the winter. [caption id="attachment_1030" align="alignnone" width="360"] Two ospreys perched by the Aigas Loch. CREDIT: Alison Tait[/caption] I had fully expected this to be my
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