Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

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,
Continue Reading...

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
Continue Reading...

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
Continue Reading...

Toothed jaws on the west end

14 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Back in July the Aigas Loch was alive with fast, beautiful, prehistoric predators of the air. Their ancestors with 70cm wingspans were the largest creatures in the air 300 million years ago. Dragonflies are a pleasure to watch wherever you are in the world. Some people dub them the new birds with their rise in popularity amongst twitchers. Dragonflies don’t call or sing to give away their presence however their 2 sets wings beat at around 30 times a second often making an audible hum which draws your attention. [caption id="attachment_1629" align="aligncenter" width="551"] Spotted chaser[/caption] Our world is home to 5,900 species of dragonfly, we have 45 of them living in Great Britain & Ireland, 11 of which feed and breed on the Aigas estate. A stroll
Continue Reading...

Naturedays at Aigas

7 December, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Possibly the most important work that the Aigas Trust funds is that of Naturedays. We provide environmental education to students from nursery to secondary school age. Each year over 5,000 students throughout the Highlands and islands of Scotland and beyond are taught by Naturedays on the estate, in local green spaces and in school grounds. For over 35 years we have tailored programmes for school children and adults to engage with the natural world and inspire people of all ages. Our programmes deliver Curriculum for Excellence, meaning teachers can leave with enthused students, but also tick off a few things from their syllabus. Some of the most loved sessions include bushcraft (fire lighting, shelter building, whittling), freshwater invertebrate investigation and map skills. Any readers that have visited
Continue Reading...

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
Continue Reading...

A busy night at the Quarry Hide

28 November, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Having been at Aigas for almost a month and not seeing a badger, I decided to head to the Quarry Hide on a night off and wait for as long as it took in the hopes of seeing one of Britain’s largest land carnivores. At 7pm, after baiting the logs at the hide with peanuts and peanut butter, we headed inside to wait. Not long after we had arrived, the trees to the left of the hide rustled and we saw a shape moving around. It was a barn owl which flew around for a bit before perching on a tree trunk directly in front of us. It stayed there for a few minutes, giving us a good show before flying off into the darkness. Only a
Continue Reading...

Whisky and Wildlife – My Aigas Week

22 November, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Saturday evening, our first evening and all the course participants are gathered in the common room, already making friendships and eagerly awaiting our introduction. I have been to Aigas before but it is still a special feeling, the warmth and anticipation of the week to come. First things first though and, only travelling from Carlisle I have come by car and the lovely journey through the Borders and into the Highlands is part of the holiday for me. I have plenty of time to take to the more quiet routes, looking for wildlife and enjoying the stunning autumn scenery. I time my arrival, as suggested, in time for afternoon tea. I mingle with others who have been picked up from the airport or railway station and we
Continue Reading...

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
Continue Reading...

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
Continue Reading...