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 volunteers.
Wednesday and Thursday saw us taking trips to local glens. During these days we were lucky enough to spot golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) – we were even able to see two mating! Lots of red deer (Cervus elaphus) were easily sighted also as the harsh weather pushes them into the lower valley levels. A couple of our rangers found antlers and even a skull or two.
On Friday we visited scenic Strathdearn, home to many mountain hares (Lepus timidus). They were looking beautiful in their winter coat and were joined by large coveys of red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica). Feral goats (Capra hircus) also inhabit the strath, with their kids in tow – these charismatic creatures were a favourite with the rangers.