Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

A Morning Otter Watching

11 November, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

I have my binoculars firmly focussed on a cut of silver in the still water which is moving down the firth. The head of a one year old dog otter (Lutra lutra) appears, then turns on its back and proceeds to relish a tasty eel after a successful hunting dive. He makes his way closer to the shore, just 15 metres away from where I sit, watching with bated breath. Entranced, I spent the whole morning tracking this secretive mammal, as he fishes the shoreline. The morning was perfect for otter watching; the water still, clear and quiet. The only disturbances were lone common seals curiously bobbing in the tide, looking form side to side; a curlew, alarmed by my presence; and chattering skeins of pink-footed geese
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Meet our new Academic Placement students from the University of Exeter

30 September, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

On the 31st August we said a fond farewell to two of last year's placement students; Charlotte and Christopher. Both arrived to Aigas a year ago and quickly became an integral part of the Aigas team. They worked hard over the winter to help us create a new open-air wildcat enclosure, took responsibility in monitoring our beaver and pine marten populations and many other important roles with social media, habitat surveys and research. Immediately after their eight-week ranger training in February and March, it became obvious that we were not going to be able to open for the 2021 season as a national lockdown loomed over the country. On 16th March we shut our doors and isolated together as a community. Chris and Charlotte continued their hard
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A Scottish Wildlife Safari

3 April, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Many a night I have been out and about and seen animals that I was not expecting to see. Going out looking for pine martens and badgers is always a treat as many of you know from your visits to Aigas, but wildlife is everywhere… On my way back from hide visits I have seen hedgehogs crossing my path, treecreepers roosting in giant sequoias and deer and owls on my drive home. We are so lucky to have such diversity in our British wildlife. Wildlife watching is something that anyone can do, practically anywhere. As I write this post, there are robins and dunnocks in the garden whilst primroses start to bloom. The daffodils sway in the wind and a crow flies past… It is at this
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A Wintry Swim in the Sea

9 March, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

It’s not often that guests want to swim in the sea during their stay at Aigas, however we are more than happy to encourage those who brave the water! In the Highlands, the waters don’t tend to get much warmer than around 14 degrees Celsius in the summer, and that number can easily be halved over the winter months. The west tends to be slightly warmer due to the influence of the Gulf Stream, which brings with its current a warm flow of water. I know what you’re thinking – warm is a bit of an overstatement for Scottish waters… Well a couple of us rangers decided to put this to the test, and we have challenged ourselves to swim in the sea every month of the
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Wildlife on the Job

10 February, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

It was dark today. The kind of dark that makes you want to snuggle back into bed clutching a hot water bottle closely to your chest and drift back to sleep. It felt like a cold winter’s night, but it was, in fact, 8.00am. Time to start the day. Many layers later and it's 8.30am and I'm out the door with the cold biting my face. The frost is clinging to the leaves and glistening in the morning light. A beautiful day ready to be seized. A lot of solo jobs to be getting on with today; the Scottish wildcats were waiting for their breakfast, their enclosures needed cleaning, the endless amount of on-site feeders needed replenishing, camera traps needed checking for activity and I need to
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The Feeding of the Five Thousand

27 January, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

It was a rather grey afternoon on the Aigas estate, but myself and the other two academic placement students had been tasked with an exciting challenge – to design and build our own bird feeding station. With winter in full swing, the natural food supply for our garden and woodland bird species dwindles as invertebrates become scarce, the berries on the trees begin to disappear and the ground frosts over. Over the past month we have noticed, especially on the extremely cold and frosty days, the bird feeders we currently have up have been emptying at a much faster rate. This gave us motivation to construct another station to provide our regular winged visitors with a constant supply of food. The last feeder that was placed in
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Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

27 November, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

It was an extremely cold and frosty, but beautifully sunny day as myself and the Naturedays at Aigas education team headed out for an afternoon of seed collecting. Each year, Naturedays runs an outreach programme where the team heads out to Highland schools, nurseries and local green spaces to teach students and young people about the natural world they live in. This year’s programme focuses on human impacts on the natural world and how we can use nature’s solutions to solve the problems we are currently facing as a result of climate change. One activity included in this programme involves giving each group a handful of acorns that the students plant out and eventually grow into oak trees. Not only will the students be able to learn practical skills for planting and tree
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Hoorah for Hedgehogs!

20 November, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

The hedgehog is a well-recognised spiny mammal, native to the UK. Most people are familiar with or have had a close interaction with these loveable little mammals. Be it a glimpse of a pointed face through fallen autumn leaves, hearing the munching of slugs on our garden lawns or stories of the motherly Mrs Tiggywinkle from the classic tales of Beatrix Potter. Unfortunately, our beloved spiny friends have faced some tough times in the last few years. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have uncovered, through their own mammal surveys, that since the last millennium over a third of all hedgehogs across the UK have been lost. That has left us with less than 1 million individuals across the entirety of the UK. This loss has
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Searching for Roosting Treecreepers

5 November, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

When all had gone quiet on the Aigas estate, I decided to have a wander round our five giant sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) that we have on site, originally planted by the Gordon-Oswalds who built the Victorian part of the Aigas house. I always look up in awe at these trees and how the wet climate in the UK has allowed them to grow so quickly compared to in their native range in California. It is remarkable that the sequoias we have in Scotland are only around 200 years old at most but they have grown so tall and are now an important part of other species’ habits. If you look up at a giant sequoia you will most probably notice a number of holes excavated by
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The Life of an Atlantic Salmon

23 October, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

As we approach November the spawning season for Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) begins. Spawning occurs throughout November and December; in larger rivers this may begin and finish a month early or later. Salmon are anadromous spending 2 to 3 years as juveniles in freshwater streams before migrating to the ocean for 1 to 4 years travelling over 6000 miles then returning back upriver to spawn. Many individuals die after spawning only the surviving population are able to spawn again. 1000 to 17,000 eggs can be laid by a single fish; however, an extremely small amount of eggs survive to maturity due to predation, ecological factors and interference during other life stages. Three returning fish per parent is considered a successful outcome. [caption id="attachment_3305" align="aligncenter" width="770"] An Atlantic
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