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Thursday 30 June 2011

Guisachan east Red Squirrel survey area summary.

This panorama shows part of the forest to the east of Guisachan farm which I have been surveying for Red Squirrels this last year. Beyond the top of the image is mostly open hill.

If you click on the image it will open in a new browser window and you can pan through the detail.

The mature timber stands consist of Norway Spruce, Sitka Spruce, Larch, Scots Pine and some Douglas Fir.

Young stands are Sitka Spruce and Larch. Around the margins and on water courses and wet areas there are deciduous shrubs and trees such as Willows, Birch, Aspen, Hazel, Beech, Lime, Oak and some granny Pines. The under storey is a mix of grass, bracken and herbs with heath higher up.

Squirrels feed mostly in the Norway Spruce and Larch. Most feeding is in the canopy with some ground feeding in undisturbed areas and ground activity is generally limited to areas with thicker ground cover.

I would consider this area to have a robust population of Red Squirrels up to an elevation of around 200 meters. Beyond that they are less in evidence.  

Roe Deer buck (Capreolus capreolus) on trail cam

Roe deer buck up close and personal with a trail camera

Sunday 26 June 2011

New framed prints

I mentioned a while ago that I was considering making framed prints available and have decided to introduce them next month.

The example on the left is how they will be presented in a standard hard wood frame. I may be able to make a selection of frames available.

More information soon.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Badger (Meles meles) trails, tracks in mud and latrine

An early morning look along the river showed where a pair of badgers (not sure if they were travelling together or separately) had been foraging earlier in the night.

The right hand trail is the main trail and the left hand is where one of the animals travelled parallel with it, which might suggest they were moving together.

Badgers, being rather low slung, leave a furrow through virgin grass and the image (left) shows moisture collected on the laid down grass, suggesting the animal had passed early in the night.

Below, in the first pair of images are left and right hand respectively, partially registered prints in mud. These pairs of footprints were about 33cm apart in a slightly staggered line, suggesting maybe it was a cub moving at a walk.

Although badgers have five toes the inner toe very often doesn't show; but if you look at the images you can make out the inner toe of the forefoot in the first two frames.

Also, they normally walk on the front of their feet and the heel doesn't show; but the right hand image of the second pair below, does show the heel pad.

Normally you'll see claws, toe pads and the large central pad. The claws on the front feet are extremely long and show almost in a line. The rear foot shows slightly behind and offset to the front foot.

In the second pair of images below, the prints are more or less registered, indicating a walking animal. When badgers trot or gallop the hind feet are set down in front of the fore print.

Badgers don't normally dump just anywhere but dig a shallow pit at a latrine site. Latrines are
found strategically placed around a family's home range and act as message posts and territorial markers.

Left is an image of a latrine pit and faeces deposited by the badgers mentioned and is located at a confluence of regularly used trails on the edge of their particular territory.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Brown Rats and other stuff

I've been away for a while visiting family and returned to find that I've been visited in my absence.

A pair of Brown or Common Rats have taken up residence under the floor and eaten their way out into the utility room where they've been dining on dog food.

I like living close to nature but I'm afraid that these rats and their accompanying health implications are a bit close for comfort. It goes against everything I believe to take life without good reason but in a case like this it looks as if I've no other option than to give them the medicine.

Friday 3 June 2011

Red Deer Stags (Cervus elaphus) with antlers in velvet

The weather has turned bright, sunny and hot in the last couple of days.

Yesterday morning I got some shots of these Red Deer stags enjoying the fresh grass and trying to stay cool.

Flies were making them very restless.

Their antlers are forming well under a luxurious coat of velvet and should be fully grown in a couple of months.

While the stags are lounging about hinds will be in the forest and on the hills giving birth to their calves.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Light in the sky

Last Sunday evening, high above Guisachan forest, this rainbow summed up the weather for May. While the rest of the UK was suffering a lack of rainfall, the highlands had higher than average delivered by storms interspersed with sunny moments like this one.

Wednesday 1 June 2011


"Today is a massive day for the Fish Fight campaign, and for the mission to end the insanely wasteful practise of discarding thousands of tonnes of fine edible fish at sea. This scandalous activity, which fishermen, conservationists and the fish-eating public all abhor, is the final insult of a Common Fisheries Policy that is universally agreed to be broken, and no longer fit for purpose.

Read more.............

The Co-operative offers a lifeline for endangered and protected species

Endangered and protected species are being offered a lifeline by Britain’s largest farmer, The Co-operative Group.

The Group has set up a team of “Habitat Heroes” on six of its farms across the country, to help preserve some of the UK’s most iconic species, including water voles, otters, bats and red squirrels.
By launching the national wildlife initiative, The Group’s farming business joins leading environmental campaigners who are taking direct action to help preserve species under threat, in response to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and continuing concerns over a global decline in biodiversity. Vincent Jones from the Barn Owl centre with Owl
The Habitat Heroes project aims to identify whereThe Co-operative Farms can make investments and adaptations on the six farms to improve the habitats, feeding and breeding opportunities for endangered or protected species, helping to safeguard them for the future.
The Co-operative Group is funding the project, whilst its farming business has harnessed the support of farm managers, local environmental groups and volunteers to carry out the vital environmental work to improve and sustain the habitats of species that are indigenous to the farms.                                               
Christine Tacon, Managing Director of The Co-operative Farms, said: “As Britain’s largest farmer we feel we have a responsibility to lead the way environmentally. The Habitat Heroes project gives us the chance to look at ways we can really make our land work for local wildlife.”
She added: “The beauty of this scheme is that we can keep on re-visiting and revising it. As part of the scheme, we will conduct regular surveys into the wildlife on our land to find out what is working and where we are seeing positive results, to help guide the environmental work we commit to in the future.”
The six farms taking part in the Habitat Heroes project are Goole in Yorkshire, Coldham in Cambridgeshire, Tillington in Herefordshire, Blairgowrie in Perthshire, Down Ampney in Gloucestershire and Stoughton in Leicestershire.  Several of the sites have webcams to study the targeted species.
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.