Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

March at Riverview

8 April, 2021. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Winter always lingers on late into the year in the Highlands; gladly some preliminary vernal signs have started to make themselves clear over the last week or so. At Riverview we’ve seen the first Lesser Celandines blooming, Sallows freshly blossoming, and heard the bouncing song of a newly returned Chiffchaff echoing around in the treetops. The Chiffchaff was easily spotted, as there are still no leaves on the trees! [caption id="attachment_3911" align="aligncenter" width="700"] The first Lesser Celandine of the year in flower at Riverview.[/caption] There have been some exciting additions to the Riverview bird list since the February update! Emily spotted a brief Golden Eagle cruising over the ridge on the opposite side of the Strath, and Milo has twice seen a Peregrine darting over the craggy
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February at Riverview

22 February, 2021. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

It’s been a month of extreme weather here at Aigas. We’ve had snow and temperatures down to a biting -14⁰C, followed by a relative heatwave with the snow melting even up on the hills! Fortunately, a lot of the hardy Highland wildlife seems unaffected, and we’ve had some wonderful sightings. Since our last blog we have been treated to views of a barn owl flying past our house! The low temperatures and snowfall that we’ve been experiencing puts increased pressure on barn owls for several reasons, one: poor insulation means they require more food in colder weather to make up for energy losses, and two: their main mammalian prey is more difficult to locate with snow and ice covering the ground. Barn owls may alter their diet during these harsher times, taking more small birds while small mammals remain difficult to hunt. We were relieved to see the last of the snow melting
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Busy as a Beaver

25 January, 2021. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

It has been a beautiful first December and January for me here at Aigas, with more snow than I have ever experienced. Just after Christmas we had our first proper snowfall of the year, which revealed all the comings and goings of deer, foxes, hares, badgers, and red squirrels by their footprints. While walking round the loch late in December I wondered how the beavers (castor fiber) were getting on; their lodge was covered in snow and water frozen solid around it. Beavers do not hibernate over winter but do become less active. [caption id="attachment_3793" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The loch and beaver lodge covered in snow[/caption] Our beavers had spent autumn filling their underwater larder (called a cache), but since we have found them to be surprisingly active
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An Aigas Season in Moths

11 December, 2020. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

This season has been an odd one for us humans at Aigas, but for our wildlife it has been business as usual. We have been running weekly moth traps for the Garden Moth Scheme since March, and we have seen a whole host of species come and go through the months. First, we had the late winter/spring moths – the clouded drabs, hebrew characters, and the impressive brindled beautys. Then these died off and along came the early summer moths – brimstones, white ermines, and various pug species. As we moved into the height of summer the hawkmoths became regulars, alongside the stunning garden tigers and large emeralds. Autumn brought gorgeous colours to the trees in the landscape, and the moths followed suit – sallows, black rustics,
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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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