Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

Aigas Rangers Survey Local Community Woodland

12 March, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Over the last 3 months, Aigas' three Academic Placements along with Staff Naturalist, Ben, and Field Officer, Pete, have been surveying the neighbouring Aigas Community Forest (see more about the forest in this previous blog). The main aims of these surveys were: looking for Crested Tits, and assessing the suitability of areas in the forest for them; locating suitable owl box sites (typically large Scots Pines); looking for signs of mammals and scoping out the best bits of the forest to take Aigas guests to in the coming season. Other aims included recording any other notable wildlife sightings (birds, plants and everything else), and becoming as familiar as possible with the forest; all 260 hectares of it! Surveys involved traversing a route through a selected area of
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The Weird and Wonderful World of Sphagnum Mosses

18 February, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

I have always been fascinated by the more unusual and overlooked groups of wildlife; from obscure beetle families, millipedes and slugs, to lichens and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). So often these understudied organisms can tell us huge amounts about the health of the ecosystems in which they dwell. Sphagnum mosses are one such group that have piqued my interest recently. Familiar to some as the major component in peat (which they form as they slowly decay over hundreds or thousands of years), few people know that the UK has over 35 species of this diverse genus of mosses. The Scottish Highlands are the centre of Sphagnum diversity in the UK, with all species able to be found within a 3-hour drive of Aigas. Globally, Sphagnum mosses are
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Touch Not the Cat bot a Glove

11 February, 2019. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Managing the Aigas Wildcat Conservation Programme is always an exciting affair; each day different to the next, adding new foliage to enclosures, cleaning out den boxes, checking the stealth cameras for mating behaviour can all be components of a standard week. But, one day towards the end of last year was exceptionally interesting... Our young male Coll needed to have a blood sample taken for genetic analysis. Both his parents have scored high on their genetic test and Coll is likely to score even higher. [caption id="attachment_2734" align="aligncenter" width="700"] We took the opportunity while Coll was under anesthetic to take some close up images of his pelage.[/caption] All wildcats in the conservation breeding programme have had their lineages traced and genetics sampled to ensure only genetically strong
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Tree Planting in the Aigas Community Forest

17 December, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Bordering our Field Centre is an undulating, 260ha community owned patch of woodland - Aigas Community Forest. Bought with the aims of increasing biodiversity in areas of previously poorly managed plantation; it demonstrates sustainable timber sourcing, whilst providing a fantastic recreational area for the public. Aigas Field Centre has deep links with the community forest and is strongly supportive of its missions, helping to buy it over in 2015. Two of our members of staff are on the committee board and help to shape decisions regarding its management. Planting trees in the Aigas Community Forest ©Pete Short Over the winter months we have been carrying out surveys around the forest to scout out areas with higher value for wildlife, such as crested tits, in order to install nest
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Waking up with Coileach Dubh

6 August, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

Our Aigas guests will be familiar with what we call the Early Morning Run (EMR). At the beginning of the season, we offer guests the opportunity to visit a black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) lek and otters (Lutra lutra) later in the season. Black grouse or Coileach Dubh in Scottish Gaelic, participate in courtship behaviour known as lekking where males (blackcocks) congregate display competitively, in attempt to capture the attention of the on-looking females (greyhens). Black grouse are commonly mistaken for and are related to Capercaille (Tetrao urogallus) – the horse of the woodland, which also participate in leks but are much larger in size, and now incredibly scarce in Scotland. Lekking behaviour The dominant male is usually positioned in the centre of the lek and tends to
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Butterfly Garden: Before and After

6 July, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

May 2018 (Before) Now that signs of spring are finally showing themselves around Aigas, we have seen Queen bees buzzing around after being woken up from hibernation by the warmer temperatures. They need to find flowers with nectar to feed on to raise their energy levels so they can move on to locate a new nest site for the upcoming summer. Some species of butterfly spend the winter as larvae or pupae, whilst others hibernate and will also be rousing around the same time as the bees.  To help these species find flowers and nectar, we are in the process of creating a bee/butterfly garden behind the Magnus House. Planting native flowers is a great way to attract bees and butterflies to a garden. Wild bees and
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John Muir Day – Celebrating an Inspirational Conservationist

20 April, 2018. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

“Camp out among the grass of glacier meadows. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. - The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir was a Scotsman at heart and from an early age went out exploring the mountains and hills around him. As a child he and his family emigrated to Wisconsin, USA, where he grew to become an important figure in nature conservation. As an adventurer, climber, botanist, inventor and writer, John Muir was passionate about everyone caring for our world as well as enjoying it. His writing and public voice influenced many decisions in conversation including establishing Yosemite as a
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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,
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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
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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
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