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Tuesday 19 December 2017

Protecting Scottish trees for the future at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank

Award winning Scottish charity Trees for Life is helping to secure the future of Scotland’s native trees by collecting seed from wild tree species in the North-West Highlands. The seeds are being stored in the underground vaults of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank – forming part of the UK’s first national collection of tree seeds.

The UK National Tree Seed Project has been set up by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to help protect UK trees and woodlands against pests and diseases such as ash dieback and other threats. The collections are used by researchers working on solutions to tackle the issues facing the UK’s woodlands and is funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The seeds contributed by Trees for Life to Kew’s vaults so far are equivalent to around 160,000 trees. This includes a unique collection of ash seeds, known as keys, harvested from the most northerly ash wood in Britain at Rassal in the Highlands. Professional climbers helped to collect the ash keys from this

Boost for Scotland’s international reputation for wilderness and wildlife

Glen Affric © Ron Bury

Scotland’s international reputation as a key destination for experiencing world-class wild landscapes and outstanding wildlife is to be boosted by Trees for Life joining a prestigious and growing European association of rewilding projects.

The conservation charity was invited to become a member of the European Rewilding Network – placing its restoration of the globally unique Caledonian Forest in the Highlands, especially in Glen Affric and Glenmoriston, firmly on the European map.

A key focus of the network is to show how rewilding – the restoration of damaged natural ecosystems – can benefit economic development, including through

Thursday 16 November 2017

SNH and partners testing new ways to protect lambs from sea eagles

White tailed sea eagle
Trials are underway by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and its partners on how to reduce the impact of sea eagle predation on sheep farming.

Removing trees where sea eagles nest next to lambing areas and new scaring methods are two techniques being tested on a small number of 'monitor farms' in west coast locations. These methods are being trialled in places where other management measures, such as extra shepherding, have failed to prevent loss of livestock.
SNH granted a licence this week to Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) to fell two trees where sea eagles have nested previously. The trees are on the

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Voting urged to help save Scotland’s Great yellow bumblebee

Great yellow bumblebee on clover by Gordon Mackie
An ambitious project in the Outer Hebrides to save the Great yellow bumblebee – which some experts believe is the UK’s most endangered bumblebee – is to be launched if the Bumblebee Conservation Trust wins an online vote.

The charity’s ‘Help find our bumblebees. Where’s Bombus?’ project needs votes to be entered into the finals of the Aviva Community Fund, where it could potentially win £25,000. Voting is open to anyone and runs to 21 November 2017. 

Votes can be cast at

Success would enable the Bumblebee Conservation

Monday 6 November 2017

Red squirrel reintroduction success with breeding and natural expansion

Red squirrel © Peter Cairns
A project by Trees for Life relocating red squirrels to their old forest homes in northwest Scotland has been boosted by evidence of breeding and natural expansion by the new populations.

The conservation charity is reintroducing squirrels to suitable native woodlands in the Highlands, from which the species has been lost. Because reds travel between trees and avoid crossing large open spaces, they can’t return to these isolated forest fragments on their own.

Early indications are that this could be a real wildlife success story. The new squirrel populations are not only flourishing and breeding in their new homes, they

Monday 23 October 2017

Captured Beauly Beaver Deaths: “Beavers require protection”

European beaver feeding © L.Campbell
Today came the depressing news that Scottish Natural Heritage's (SNH) attempts to, as they put it, relocate beavers living on the river Beauly, culminated in three animals being trapped, two of which have subsequently died.

The reason given for the relocation is that the beavers had been illegally released and despite the fact that the beavers have been peacefully living on the river Beauly for several years without causing any problems, it would seem that human legalities are considered more important than animal welfare. 

Below is a press release from Trees for Life

Reacting to news that two beavers trapped near

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Appeal to save ice age heritage of Scotland’s national tree

Dead Scots pine, or snag, silhouetted against shafts of
sunlight over Gleann na Ciche & Loch Affric
Trees for Life has launched an initiative to save ancient Scots pines across the Highlands of Scotland from becoming the last generation in a lineage of trees dating back to the last ice age.

Through its Caledonian Pinewood Recovery Project, the conservation charity wants to help restore 50 areas of remnant and neglected pinewoods – mainly made up of lone, ancient ‘Granny’ pines which are over 200 years old but dying as they stand, with no young trees to succeed them.

The fragments – scattered over a large area – face growing threats from overgrazing by deer, tree diseases and climate change, and are at risk of

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Standard versus Wide angle lens comparison in Ltl Acorn wildlife cameras.

Fig 1: 5310 and 5310W

Ltl Acorn first introduced cameras with a wide angle lens option early in 2014 and there are now several models with this option which are identified by the letter W in the model number.

I was an instant convert because much of what I use these cameras for is wildlife close up with a need to see as far to the sides as possible in enclosed woodland settings.

Depending on the type of use you intend there are some basics that need consideration such as the size of the subject and its distance from the camera.

With the wide angle lens the closest focus is down to about 30cm where with the standard lens it is about a metre. Subjects will also be smaller in the frame at a given distance compared to the standard lens.

I created the composite image in figure 2 to provide an easy reference to determine which lens is best  for your

Friday 1 September 2017

No screen in test mode caused by faulty switch

This post deals with a problem which occasionally occurs with all models of  Ltl Acorn cameras and probably with many other makes of trail camera. It is caused by dirty switch contacts and symptomised by a blank control panel screen when the camera is switched to TEST.

Fig 2: Dismantled OFF/ON/TEST switch
No screen in TEST can also be caused by not inserting an SD card in the SD card slot, or by a faulty SD card but in

Tuesday 22 August 2017

SWA to work in the five areas which are of most benefit to Scottish wildcat preservation

Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)
Photo: Peter Cairns

Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) has announced that its five-year project to save Scotland’s wildcats is to focus on five key areas, where evidence suggests that at least 19 wildcats are roaming free.

The shift in focus comes after years of extensive survey work across nine areas helped the SWA team narrow its aim to five areas, which will allow for the most effective use of the programme’s limited resources.
Scottish Wildcat Action is a national project supported by the Heritage

Tuesday 1 August 2017

More than 100 cats trapped in fight to save endangered Scottish wildcats
Action to save the enigmatic Scottish wildcat from extinction received a major boost this week with the news that more than 100 cats have been trapped during a recent neutering and vaccinating campaign.
Scottish Wildcat Action’s far-reaching Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return (TNVR) programme was carried out in its priority areas, including Morvern, Strathpeffer, Strathbogie, Northern Strathspey and the Angus Glens. These areas represent a total of 676 square miles (1750 square kilometres) of wildcat habitat.

Feral cats present a threat to wildcats by hybridising with them and diluting the gene pool. Since November last year three wildcat project officers, contractors and dozens of local volunteers helped to catch a total 115 cats.

Of these, 82 were taken to a veterinary surgeon for treatment and later returned, 12 feral kittens were rehomed, seven cats were either pet cats or had been neutered previously and so were all released and two were possible wildcats that were released without neutering. The remaining 12 feral cats sadly tested positive for disease or were in such poor condition and had to be put to sleep on welfare grounds.

Scottish Wildcat Action is a national project supported by the

Friday 21 July 2017

Threat to new beaver family in the Highlands of Scotland

A family of beavers found living on a river in the Beauly area in the Scottish Highlands are to be trapped and put into captivity following a decision by Scottish Government Ministers. Trees for Life, the charity which discovered the group, says the family should either stay where they are or be relocated locally.

Film from camera traps set by the conservation experts from the charity in mid-June clearly show the presence of a mother and at least two

Tuesday 14 February 2017

New Acorn 3G Camera and General Update February 2017

Fig 1:   6310WMG

Internet access and web site posts.

I have had bad problems accessing the internet for over a year and lately difficulty in getting any connection at all. This is due to failing local phone line infrastructure. Engineers have been in the area recently and have managed to make some small improvements.

A fibre cabinet installation is scheduled for this spring so hopefully sometime around April/May this year the whole thing will experience a new lease of life.

At the moment I'm trying to make use of what I have to do some updates and some long overdue camera technical posts.

An introduction to the new Acorn 3G cellular camera.

Over the last couple of years Acorn have been working hard to develop new and improved cameras, the latest of which is the eagerly awaited 3G version of the 6310 shown in figure 1 of which my early tests are encouraging.

Fig 2:  6310 Control Panel
and Screen access.

The 6310 series cameras were an evolution of the 6210 which saw the the control panel and screen moved to the back of the camera body as a way of overcoming damage to the ribbon cable in the 6210.

Other improvements were the larger IR LED array for better night vision and the option of a wide angle lens as an alternative to the standard 52° lens. These are not interchangeable lenses so you have to decide which one you want before you buy. I will be writing posts on both these subjects very soon.

More recently the timekeeping has been improved with a new chipset. Previously the timers would gain by about 10 minutes in every hour but now they are accurate to about 20/100ths of a second so timer on/off and time lapse is very accurate.

Ingress Protection. Unlike all the other Acorn models (and many other camera brands of this type) the 6310s are enclosure rated IP66 rather than IP54.  This means that the 6310 models have superior weather resistance which is another subject for a later post but in brief
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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.