Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

Exploring the Bone Caves

23 April, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Every year, a school group from the south coast of England travel north to learn all about the Highlands. Traditionally, we take this group to Assynt to climb Stac Pollaidh, a rocky Corbett of Torridonian sandstone just north of Ullapool. However, due to icy conditions, we had to provide an alternative walk. We landed on the Bone Cave Circuit near Ichnadamph, and it did not disappoint. The walk took us through a limestone valley, past a spring where water seems to flow from nowhere, and into a dried up riverbed. The riverbed provided students (and rangers) with a lot of rock-stacking fun. The path then climbs up to a cliff face, in which the cave system lies. Four large caves are easily accessible and were thoroughly explored.
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Aigas Ranger Training with Naturedays

12 April, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Having experienced the Aigas Ranger Training Scheme (ARTS) once before I was eager to see what new things 2018 would bring. I was most excited for the week of education training with Naturedays, the charity based at Aigas which focuses on environmental education. This week certainly didn’t disappoint and was by far one of my favorites. We took part in a multitude of activities some of which took me right back to being a young child exploring nature again. Games like camouflage and orienteering with an educational twist which Naturedays do with Primary School children proved to be just as fun for us adults. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t bring out my competitive side as well. Team building games like ‘the magic stick’ were
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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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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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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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Foxes at Dawn

4 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

A frozen loch gleams icily in the last hour of night.  An eerie stillness settles around us.  No birds are stirring yet; deer are still out on the river fields, yet to slip back into the woods as winter daylight slowly spills in from the cloudless east.  Whisps of ghostly white mist hang over the valley and somewhere far upstream we can hear the bugling of the twelve whooper swans that have winged in from the high Arctic to winter on our river. We had dumped a road-kill roe deer carcass out on the moor with a stealthcam in place to see who and what would exploit it.  The first and obvious images were fox.  A solitary fox tugging at the rib cage and hauling it off
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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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