Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

Protected: An Aigas Season in Moths

11 December, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

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All the Leaves are Brown

11 December, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

The word decomposition may have rather unattractive connotations - perhaps those of dying and death -  but this is a vital process that is never more evident than in Autumn, when a walk in a deciduous woodland is framed perfectly by the falling of leaves overhead and the crunch of those, already shed, beneath our feet. But this is not the end of their story. We welcome the fresh flush of green leaves in Spring as trees waken to the lengthening days and warming air. But Autumn is the time when the soil greets these falling tokens with open arms; leaves bring life into our soils. In an effort to save energy, trees draw much of the green pigment chlorophyll back into their living tissues (chlorophyll means
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A Leap of Faith

1 December, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of accompanying professional photographer Laurie Campbell on Aigas’ Nature Photography Masterclass. Not owning a camera any bigger than my pocket I felt somewhat inadequate amongst their foot-long lenses, but sometimes it’s the experience itself that overrides any image than can be taken, and I had one very special encounter which I will never forget… Autumn in the waterways of the northern hemisphere, and a very exceptional creature is embarking on its first migration as an adult – it is going home. After a year or more feeding in rich Atlantic waters, and now weighing 3-4 kg, it feels a change come about. Driven by hormones and environmental cues it begins to head toward land and a river mouth, whence
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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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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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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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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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