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Scottish Natural Heritage

Autumn 2010

The Nature of Scotland

Scotlands seas
Highlighting what needs
protecting in our waters

Ocean traveller
The bird that travels over
20,000 km to breed

In the picture
Stunning images from this
years Nature Photography Fair

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07/09/2010 12:24

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07/09/2010 12:24




Celebrating natures bounty

Quality produce needs a quality

10 Shark man
Speaking up for sharks, skates
and rays


12 Enjoying lifes simple pleasures

National campaign launches
in Glasgow


22 Marine priorities
Targeting conservation work
in our seas



Where we are
SNH contact details


Wild calendar
Where to go and what to see
this autumn


28 Beyond the classroom

Bring a breath of fresh air to
your teaching
32 The rainforests ngered fungus
Ancient hazelwoods and a
remarkable survivor
34 Creating a fruitful Scotland
New orchards for the 21st century

14 News

50 Photo nish
Feast your eyes on some superb
nature imagery

20 Inspired by nature
Show and tell whats inspired

56 Get near to nature

Discover a new trail where small
is beautiful

36 Reserve focus
Discover Glen Affric NNR

60 Of birds and trolls

The bird thats been returning for
a thousand years

42 Area news
Reports from round the country
46 Events diary
Guide to what's on
48 Dualchas coitcheann
/Common heritage
Linking language and environment
58 Kids only!
Activities for younger readers
64 Mailing list
Make sure you always receive
a copy


The Nature of Scotland
The Magazine of Scottish Natural Heritage
Issue Number 9 Autumn 2010
Published quarterly
SNH 2010
ISSN 1350 309X

Where we are

Area offices

You can contact SNH by

letter, telephone or email.
The following details
should enable you to find
your nearest main office,
but bear in mind that we
also have a number of
smaller offices than those

Argyll and Stirling

The Beta Centre,
Innovation Park,
University of Stirling,
Stirling FK9 4NF
Tel. 01786 450 362

Editor: John Walters

Tel. 01463 725 222

A full list of our offices

appears on the SNH

Cover photo: Autumn colour on Kinnoull Hill, Perth.

Inside cover photo: Wind-tossed birch.
Welcome page: Ripe plums.
Photographer: Lorne Gill/SNH


Photography all images by Lorne Gill/SNH other than: Keith Ringland 4;

Niall Benvie/Images from the Edge 6t; Harri Taavetti/FLPA 7; Scottish
Viewpoint 8, 9; Doug Perrine/ 10; Denis Kelly 11l; Willie
Kennedy 11r; Brian Morrell 16; Steve Gardner 17; Mark Hamblin 18; David
Whitaker 19, 40; Sue Scott 22, 25l; Paul Kay 24, 25r, 27; JNCC 26; David
Genney 32; John Hancox 34; Mark Payne-Gill/ 35; Bob & Drew
Geddes 42l; Calum Duncan, Marine Conservation Society 42r; George
Logan/SNH 43l; Kelly Ann Dempsey 43r; Laurie Campbell/SNH 43m, 60;
Pete Moore 44l; Laurie Campbell 45m; Loch Lomond and Trossachs
National Park 45l; 49; Joe Blossom/NHPA/
Photoshot 62; Chris Gomersall/ 63.
Map, 37 Forestry Commission. Crown copyright and database right
To share your views about The Nature of Scotland or suggest articles for
future issues please contact the editor:
SNH Magazine
Great Glen House, Leachkin Road,
Inverness IV3 8NW
The views expressed in this magazine do not
necessarily reflect those of SNH.
Printed by: J Thomson Colour Printers, Glasgow

When you've finished with this magazine, please recycle it. Pass it to
another reader or dispose of it at your local waste-collection point.

Great Glen House,

Leachkin Road,
Inverness IV3 8NW
Tel. 01463 725 000

Other main offices

Battleby, Redgorton,
Perth PH1 3EW
Tel. 01738 444 177
Silvan House,
3rd Floor East,
231 Corstorphine Road,
Edinburgh EH12 7AT
Tel. 0131 316 2600
Caspian House,
Mariner Court,
Clydebank Business Park,
Clydebank G81 2NR
Tel. 0141 951 4488

Dumfries and Galloway

Carmont House,
The Crichton,
Bankend Road,
Dumfries DG1 4ZF
Tel. 01387 247 010
Northern Isles
Ground Floor,
Stewart Building,
Alexandra Wharf,
Shetland ZE1 0LL
Tel. 01595 693 345
East Highland
Fodderty Way,
Dingwall Business Park,
Dingwall IV15 9XB
Tel. 01349 865 333
North Highland
The Links,
Golspie Business Park,
Sutherland KW10 6UB
Tel. 01408 634 063
West Highland
The Governors House,
The Parade, Fort William,
Inverness-shire PH33 6BA
Tel. 01397 704 716
Strathclyde and Ayrshire
Caspian House,
Mariner Court,
Clydebank Business Park,
Clydebank G81 2NR
Tel. 0141 951 4488
Tayside and
Battleby, Redgorton,
Perth PH1 3EW
Tel. 01738 444 177
Western Isles
32 Francis Street,
Isle of Lewis HS1 2ND
Tel. 01851 705 258
Forth and Borders
Silvan House,
3rd Floor East,
231 Corstorphine Road,
Edinburgh EH12 7AT
Tel. 0131 316 2600
Inverdee House,
Baxter Street,
Aberdeen AB11 9QA
Tel. 01224 266 500

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The Nature of Scotland

08/09/2010 21:19

Kenneth Fowler
Head of Communications
Scottish Natural Heritage


In May this year, the minister for tourism and enterprise, Jim Mather, launched
a year-long celebration of Scotland's food and drink. The initiative is part of the
legacy of 2009's highly successful Year of Homecoming, and it aims to showcase
the wealth of quality food and drink that Scotland produces. It also positions
Scotland as a food lovers destination for visitors and encourages people living in
Scotland to enjoy the fantastic produce available on our doorstep.
From whisky to seafood, venison to cheese, the quality of the food and drink
that we produce in Scotland is outstanding. But this goes hand-in-hand with
the quality of our environment our produce is wholly dependent on our natural
resources, whatever the scale.
Our world famous and globally successful whisky industry is worth 2.7 billion
to the Scottish economy. It depends on a small number of natural ingredients,
with a local supply of clean, fresh water being critical to the successful operation
of any distillery. Similarly, without a healthy marine environment, we wouldn't be
able to enjoy the Scottish seafood for which we have such a strong reputation.
Thats why, in this edition of the magazine, we celebrate the Year of Food
and Drink and the role that a healthy environment plays in sustaining our quality
In Scotland's not so distant past, we grew our own fruit in gardens and
orchards all over the country. Not just apples, but plums and pears too. Over
the past few years, the community-led group Scottish Orchards have been
encouraging adults and children across Scotland to plant fruit trees and grow
their own fruit. This is a great example of work to help restore a type of Scottishgrown food that has, perhaps, been neglected.
Elsewhere in this issue theres an insight into the remarkable world of the
Manx shearwater. It returns over huge distances each year to breed high on
the mountains of the national nature reserve on Rum, forming one of Scotland's
largest seabird colonies. And our NNR walk for this edition is around the Coire
Loch in Glen Affric, a stunning place to experience the beauty of our ancient
Caledonian pinewood rst hand.
Nature photography also features prominently in this issue, with a feature
on the Scottish Nature Photography Fair and some of the inspirational shots
that appeared in this annual SNH-hosted event. For the rst time, were also
presenting some of the photographs that have been sent in by Nature of Scotland
readers. Please keep them coming.
I hope you enjoy this autumn edition of The Nature of Scotland and that it
inspires you to get out there and enjoy the natural world... just remember to take
your camera and a Cambusnethan Pippin!



The Nature of Scotland

One medium fall for an
autumn river, one giant
leap for salmon-kind.
Youll believe a sh
can y.

Kenny Taylor gives
some seasonal
tips for savouring
Scottish wildlife and

A thousand thrushes descending on an island pasture; a glen

whose slopes are bathed in yellows of birch and aspen; the tiny
mark of a tunnelling insect scribbled across a single bramble leaf.
These can be among the impressions of autumn in different parts of
Scotland. Theres a change in the air now. Drink it in and toast the
mellow season.

A leap in the light

The Atlantic salmon is both sh and more than sh. The Picts knew this when
they carved its image on stones; the Celts when they told tales of the Salmon
of Wisdom. For this is a creature that links rivers and sea in its journeys, whose
presence indicates the health of a river and can inspire awe in many who see it.
At a cascade where salmon gather, their jumping against the ow can seem
little short of miraculous. Happily, Scotland is blessed with both many waterfalls
and many salmon rivers. It is also unusual in having salmon that enter its inland
waters in most months of the year. This includes a sizeable autumn run of sh,
which often peaks in September and October.
To appreciate salmon in full autumn leap (and see video links from underwater
cameras) try a visit to the Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre by the River Ettrick,
near Selkirk. Or in the north, ogle the falls along the River Shin, between Bonar
Bridge and Lairg.
Web tips:


Broadleaved trees are
not the only stars of
the autumn colour
show. Look along
verges and the like for
a crimson blast of

The wooded slopes
and river gorge at
Killiecrankie look great
from train or car and
are even more
impressive from the
local trails.
The tiny yellow-browed
warbler breeds in
Siberia and should
winter in Siberia. But
some turn up in
Scotland every year,
with Fair Isle a hotspot.

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The Nature of Scotland

08/09/2010 21:19

Brambles and fireweed

Foul is Fair

Think of autumn colours and chances are youll be thinking

big, imagining a canvas painted at landscape scale. Such
scenes can be impressive, of course, but so too are much
smaller things, seen close-up and near to home.
Brambles do it for me every time. Not just because I love
the berries, in all their tongue-staining juiciness, but because
of the many colours that the cool of lengthening nights can
conjure from the leaves.
Dark greens, tawny, buff and yellow could all be held in
a single rough-skinned bramble blade. My grandmother saw
such details when she hand-painted brambles on china a
century ago, and I treasure her perception to this day.
Rosebay willowherb or fireweed is also worth a closer
look now that the flowers have faded. Gap sites and path
embankments can be good places for it, and a single
plant can hold a symphony of reds, oranges and browns
in its leaves. If youre very lucky, you might even see some
ladybirds gathered to hibernate on its stems.

Going to a small island surrounded by

choppy waters might not be everyones
cup of autumnal tea. But for many
a birdwatcher the length of Britain,
thoughts will now be turning to some
of those places. When the wind blows
from the east, the clouds come down to
ground level and a soft drizzle cools the
air those are the days when feathered
magic can be worked on such isles.
Thats when you might see migrant
birds by the thousands, such as
fieldfares and redwings, descend
on places such as the Isle of May,
North Ronaldsay or Fair Isle. Or you
could have a chance encounter with
a species not often seen in Scotland,
such as yellow-browed warbler or
Richards pipit.
Whatever your birding skills, the
new Fair Isle Bird Observatory, opened
this year to replace a much older
building, is a great base for a full-board
stay. Couple it with some days on the
Shetland mainland to further boost your
migration-watch tally.

Web tip: (brambles)

An ye hae been
whaur I hae been

Web tip:


This is where it ended for Bonnie Dundee. Also known

as John Graham of Claverhouse, the Jacobite general was
mortally wounded in a charge against government forces
down the slopes of Killiecrankie in 1689. Now, when the
leaves take on tints of gold and blood and fire, something of
the spirit of that uprising seems to rekindle in this wooded
Autumn has a habit of doing that kind of thing: making
you think back as well as savour the present. The woods
here, in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, are rich
in oaks and other broadleaves. Go to the Killiecrankie Visitor
Centre above the gorge, then use a network of trails to see
the changing leaf colours and have a chance of encounters
with the local red squirrels.
From October, the northern end of Killiecrankie will be in
the expanded Cairngorms National Park. So thoughts of the
future would now also be appropriate here on these historysteeped braes.
Web tip:

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08/09/2010 21:19

This is Scotlands Year of Food and Drink, where the

focus is on celebrating the great natural produce that
we enjoy. Of course, underpinning that quality produce
are the unspoilt landscapes, clear air and pure water for
which Scotland is famous

natures bounty

Fresh, seasonal
produce brings both
health and
Scotland's seafood is
renowned for its high


The Nature of Scotland

Music festivals dont tend to be associated in most

peoples minds with good food, let alone with
healthy eating. But a group of local food producers
from Argyll and the Islands are hoping to change
all that.
At events across the country, Food from Argyll are bringing
a taste of the west coast of Scotland to new audiences
with great-tasting, freshly prepared dishes. They recently
attended RockNess, T in the Park and Belladrum music
festivals, where they were selling a range of fresh, local
products from roast beef and salmon rolls to kippers,
cheeses and vegetarian dishes.
This is the kind of initiative that chimes well with the
aims of Scotland's Year of Food and Drink. The year seeks
to ensure more people both residents and visitors are
aware of and can enjoy Scotland's top quality produce.
Certainly, the food and drink industry is a key sector of
Scotland's economy. It generates over 9.5 billion per year
for Scotland and employs more than 360,000 people, from
farmers and shermen to shop assistants and waiters.
These jobs are often in fragile rural and coastal areas. But
more than that, the importance we attach to our food and
drink reects its signicance to our health and wellbeing, its
contribution to our environment and the strong role it has
played in shaping Scotlands cultural identity and heritage.
And the distinct food and drink thats nurtured in
Scotland has a global reputation. In a recent worldwide
study, the International Culinary Tourism Association
acknowledged Scotland as one of the most 'unique,
memorable and interesting places' for food and drink on the
The Year of Food and Drink is looking to build on this
recognition by showcasing the best of authentic Scottish


cuisine and encouraging more use of local, fresh and

seasonal produce across the tourism industry. People are
undoubtedly more concerned about what theyre eating,
where it comes from and how its produced. And the way
that food is grown and produced has an obvious reliance on
the quality of the environment and landscape.
To that end, SNH are working with Argyll Food Producers
to create information and advice for producers on successful
ways of marketing the biodiversity that connects premium
food and drink products with environmental quality. The
Argyll Food Producers is a cooperative of seven food
producers including Barbreck Farms, a cattle and sheep
farm producing its own beef and lamb products; Winston
Churchill Wild Venison, game dealers and producers;
Bumble, makers of hand-made puddings; and Loch Fyne
Oysters, the seafood business.
Fergus Younger, of the Argyll and Bute Agricultural
Forum, helped create the cooperative and is keen to
encourage people in Scotland to experience the great
produce on their doorstep. He thinks events like music
festivals are a perfect vehicle for spreading the message to
an audience that might otherwise be off the radar.
Our main message is about promoting Argyll and the
isles as a good food producer and good food destination,
he says. There are lots of foodie events that are just
preaching to the converted. But events like RockNess and
T in the Park are reaching a really big audience that may not
come into contact with this sort of message otherwise.

Shark man
James Thorburn has a rather unusual job
he catches sharks, sticks tags on them and
releases them unharmed back into the sea.
So whats the big idea behind it all?



The Nature of Scotland

Spurdog sharks are
found in various parts
of the world (these are
pictured off Vancouver
Island, Canada), but
they're in sharp decline
in Scotland's waters.

2, 3
James Thorburn with a
tope shark (left) and a
common skate. Tope is
a highly migratory
species that appears in
Scottish waters during
the summer months.
Common skate is the
largest skate in
European waters.

Mention sharks and most people

think of countries such as
Australia or South Africa. But we
actually have sharks around the
coasts of Britain.

The post is funded by SNH and

the Argyll and the Islands LEADER
Programme and run by the Scottish
Sea Angling Conservation Network
We urgently need reliable scientic
data to help protect and regenerate
In fact, there are over 25 species
stocks, James continued. So were
of shark in the seas off Scotlands
catching these species and taking
west coast, along with skate and ray
details of their weight, sex, width and
species, which are related to sharks.
length. We then tag each individual with
Unfortunately, over a quarter are now
a unique number and release them.
classed as threatened and a further
When theyre recaptured we can gather
30% could become endangered.
information on aspects such as their
The problem is that all of these
movements, population numbers and
species grow and mature slowly. They
growth rates.
have long pregnancies and give birth to
These data will help us come up
very few young, both of which makes
with an effective management plan for
them vulnerable to overshing.
identifying and protecting shark nursery
Shark, skate and ray are caught for
and breeding grounds. And this should
their meat, and some are also taken
allow stocks of these endangered
accidentally while shing for other
species to recover."
target species. This has led to a huge
The SSTP project (see www.
decline in the numbers found in our seas. relies on an army of
For instance, commercial landings
recreational anglers shing from the
suggest that spurdog (or spiny
shore, kayaks or boats who volunteer
dogsh) sharks have declined by 95%
to catch, tag and release the various
over the last 50 years. And common
shark, skate and ray species. They do
skate which were once widespread
this either as part of their normal shing
throughout the British Isles are now
trips or during major tagging events,
restricted to just a few areas, one being such as SSACNs Sharkatag weekend
the west coast of Scotland.
(see held in June,
Shark, skate and ray stocks in
which attracted over 200 volunteer
Scottish waters are under severe
sport shermen.
pressure, explained James Thorburn,
Recreational sea angling is a major
who took up the post of project
provider of jobs throughout Scottish
ofcer for the Scottish Shark Tagging
coastal communities. It supports
Programme (SSTP) earlier this year.
many tourism and service industries


from hotels and campsites to tackle

manufacturing and shop staff as
well as direct activities such as bait
suppliers and charter boat skippers.
Many of these jobs are often in
communities with fragile economies,
where theres little scope for other
employment or economic activity.
Indeed, sea angling in Scotland
supports around 4,000 jobs and
contributes over 150 million to the
Scottish economy annually, with the
shark shing sector alone accounting
for around 40 million.
This is a unique kind of job,
James added. Im working directly
with the sea angling community, who
have a wealth of knowledge about the
marine environment. They have serious
concerns about whats happening to
these animals and theyre keen to see
them properly protected for the future.
Jamess duties also include
arranging training workshops for
anglers and raising awareness of
Scottish sharks, skates and rays by
liaising with commercial shermen and
visiting schools.
We have such an amazing range
of shark, skate and ray species off
our coasts that most people arent
aware of, and this project is a great
opportunity to show everyone the rich
diversity of sh life out there, he added.
Thats why its important that we learn
as much as we can about them so
that we can look after our seas and
conserve the sharks for the future.

If you were in Glasgow over the summer, then youre

likely to have been one of over a million people exposed
to our new Simple pleasures, easily found campaign

Enjoying lifes
simple pleasures



The Nature of Scotland

A stroll along the Clyde Walkway is a regular

pleasure for a lot of folk in Glasgow. But for many
others the thought of venturing out would just
never cross their mind or they simply cant nd the
time for it.
The fact is that many people living in urban areas, such as
Aberdeen, Edinburgh and particularly Glasgow, visit the
outdoors less than once a week. Yet we could all make more
use of the outdoors and enjoy nature from our doorsteps.
Our Simple pleasures, easily found campaign inspires
people to make more time for outdoor enjoyment. It aims
to show that the outdoors offers many opportunities for fun
relaxation with simple and easy-to-do activities.
The campaign was launched in Glasgow in July with a
combination of advertising on selected bus routes and at
underground stations, along with posters on phone boxes.
Its proved to be an effective way of getting the message
across to more than 1.3 million people, with over 90% of
people in Glasgow being reached by the adverts.
And our media partnership with the Glasgow Evening
Times helped us make contact with 75,000 Glaswegians
directly, allowing us to offer guided walks in the city. This
gave readers many for the rst time the chance to
discover and enjoy fascinating facts about their local area.
The campaign in Glasgow and surrounding areas is
well under way, commented Eleanor MacDonald, SNHs
campaign manager. During the school holiday period our
campaign staff chatted to over 15,000 people and gave out
top tips on things that folk could get out and do.
Its designed to be a fun, thought-provoking campaign,
with both local and national initiatives. And were also using
the social media website Facebook to capture the publics
attention and involve a wider audience in searching for
nature on their doorsteps.


The campaign aims to show that even in the heart of

a bustling city there are hundreds of places and ways for
everyone to make the most of their free time. And to inspire
people, weve produced a comprehensive guide Get out and
about in Glasgow. This is packed full of useful information
about places, directions, facilities and ideas for things to do
or look for in and around the city. If youd like a copy, contact
our publications staff on 01738 458 530 or email pubs@
Local community groups have been quick to back the
campaign. SNH should be congratulated on this inspiring
campaign, commented Nigel Willis, chairman of The
Friends of Glasgow Necropolis. People visiting and living
in Glasgow are particularly lucky to have so many wonderful
green spaces in which to walk and enjoy the plants
and animals in the city. Were delighted that the Simple
pleasures campaign is highlighting many of these natural
However, its still early days for the wider project. Work
is under way to roll out similar campaigns in Aberdeen and
Edinburgh later in the year. And were keen to encourage
other towns and cities to organise their own local
So if youre a community group or an organisation that
would like to support the campaign, then you can download
the campaign toolkit and resources at
simplepleasures. It will allow you to personalise your own
posters and route maps using our ready-to-use templates
with the campaign artwork.

Snifng out the hogs
Specially trained sniffer dogs are now being used in the hunt to search and locate
hedgehogs in the Uists.
The Uist Wader Project (UWP) are using the dogs as part of an ongoing
drive to rid the Western Isles of the non-native hedgehogs. Research has shown
that hedgehogs have caused severe damage to the biodiversity of the Uists and
Benbecula by eating the eggs of internationally important populations of wader birds.
Dog handler Stephen Robinson is in place to help the team along with his
golden labrador Misca. The dog is fully trained and will be used mainly on the
moorland to the east side of Benbecula and parts of North Uist.
Shes expected to be extremely effective, especially in those areas where
hedgehogs are thin on the ground and the terrain is tough going for the project's
16 trappers. And Stephen has just got a second dog, Guss, whos only a few
months old, but will also be trained to search out hedgehogs.
Weve already contacted many crofters and landowners to nd out if theyre
willing for a dog to search part of their croft land, explained Gwen Evans, the
UWP manager, and we have more people still to contact.
Before we appointed Stephen, we needed to be sure that Misca was suitable
for the job, especially around livestock. So we carried out extensive testing and Im
pleased to say that Misca passed with ying colours.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn believes that the use of dogs
to help trace the hedgehogs should prove effective. Our local inspector has been
involved in observing the training and handling of the dogs, he remarked, and
were very satised that the operation does not pose any risk to the hedgehogs'
Misca will be used in the continuing drive to trap and remove the hedgehogs
from the islands. So far this year the number caught in Benbecula stands at just
four, which represents signicant progress with the trapping effort and a dwindling
population of hedgehogs.
Fieldwork currently involves live-trapping and lamping to detect hedgehogs.
Uist Hedgehog Rescue then take the animals to the mainland where theyre
released by Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust.
For more information about the UWP or to report any hedgehog sightings on
North Uist and Benbecula, please phone 01870 620 300 or email


The Nature of Scotland

A new initiative is under way in the

Highlands to combat the spread of a
garden plant thats a serious threat to
native species.
Rhododendrons are a mainstay
of many gardens with their bright
owers and attractive foliage. But one
particular species, Rhododendron
ponticum, has taken over large swathes
of Highland roadsides, hillsides and
Now the 54,000 Highland
Rhododendron Project has been
launched to support the battle against
this bloom. Funded by SNH, Forestry
Commission Scotland and The Highland
Council, this project will identify key
sites for control and offer support to land
managers who want to stop the further spread of the species.
Rhododendron ponticum and its hybrids often referred to simply as
rhododendron have been identied as a priority to tackle under Scotlands
Species Action Framework (see The
plant is an invasive, non-native species that presents a real threat to biodiversity.
Woodlands, watercourses and rough grazing are at risk from the plant, which
thrives on the wet acidic soils of the west coast. Its striking owers produce
thousands of fertile seeds, and the plants themselves can quickly spread
outwards to colonise neighbouring land. The picture shows rhododendron
invading a native bluebell wood.
Nothing will eat it and, left unchecked, the plant develops a dense canopy.
This casts a deep shade and nothing can grow underneath it. The space available
for native trees, owers, mosses, lichens and other wildlife is then reduced. Some
of the species being shaded out are more abundant in Scotland than elsewhere
in Europe, and a few are not found anywhere else.
Love them or loathe them, we need to get to grips with the pink ponticum,
commented Julie Paton, the newly appointed Highland rhododendron project ofcer.
Land managers can get funding through the Scottish Rural Development
Programme if theyre concerned about the spread of the rhododendron and its
effect on our native plants. Well be working to access these funds to remove this
plant at key sites.
Its expensive and time-consuming to get rid of rhododendron totally, and
peoples efforts can be at risk from seeds that are blown in from nearby plants. So
were keen to encourage people to cooperate in getting rid of the rhoddies and
prevent their spread.
Rhododendron ponticum was rst introduced to the UK from southwest Spain
in 1763. Although hundreds of rhododendrons ourish throughout the Highlands,
R. ponticum and its hybrids are the only ones to have jumped the fence and
become a real menace in the countryside.
The good news for gardeners and collectors is that they neednt miss out on
their own blooms. There are more than 1,000 species of rhododendron, including
azaleas, which range in size from 7cm to 30 metres. So there are plenty of
alternative rhoddie species available that look great and grow well but dont set
seed like ponticum.
If youd like further information about the project, contact Julie Paton on
01463 811 653 or email



Rhodo cops wanted




Polar bear threat to Solway geese

An Arctic expedition has conrmed fears that polar bears are preying on the eggs
of barnacle geese which migrate to the Solway Firth each winter.
Scientists recently discovered evidence of the bears eating thousands of
eggs. The polar bears are being stranded on land in the summer months because
of the receding ice. Theyve turned to eggs as theyre unable to reach the seal
colonies on which they usually feed.
Brian Morrell, of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Centre at Caerlaverock on
the Solway coast, recorded the increased polar bear activity while monitoring a
barnacle goose colony on the Arctic island of Svalbard.
He and other scientists from the Netherlands saw 10 polar bears roaming the
colony, with one bear eating more than 1,000 eggs in one sitting. Fewer than 40
out of more than 500 nests on the island were successful, and most of them had
very small clutch sizes of only one or two goslings.
The entire population of Svalbard barnacle geese y south to winter on the
Solway Firth before returning to breed in Svalbard each summer. Last winter, only
half the expected number of goslings were seen as the ocks returned to the
Solway, and reports from Svalbard indicate that the situation may be similar this
The geese are very long-lived birds, commented Brian Morrell, and ironically
their survival rate is increased if they dont actually breed, especially the females.
But, if their breeding continues to be affected in this way, the population will
quickly age, which threatens its stability and the future conservation of this bird.
The situation is made all the more sad because the barnacle gooses revival
has been a conservation success story. In the 1940s, numbers had slumped
below 300, but today up to 30,000 birds at a time can be seen on the Solway.
Historically, the geese have been relatively safe nesting on islands that are
out of the reach of the Arctic fox, which has been the main nest predator. As
increasing numbers of polar bears are foraging on the islands, researchers hope
that the geese will adapt in time to reduce the damage to the total population.
Some of the goose colonies in Svalbard use cliffs to nest, added Brian.
Although that has its own problems for edgling chicks, it does put the nests out
of reach of marauding bears. It seems this will eventually be the only breeding
strategy left to the geese.

The Nature of Scotland


Kits born
The rst wild beavers to be born in Scotland since the 16th century have been
exploring their surroundings at Knapdale Forest in Argyll. The newborn beavers,
known as kits, belong to different family groups.
The species was released into the wild last year in a trial re-introduction
project that the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of
Scotland are running. Beavers were a native species in the UK until they were
hunted to extinction over 400 years ago.
They weigh about 450 grams when theyre born. They have a full coat of fur,
their eyes are wide open and they can swim. The kits will remain with their groups
until theyre about two years old, when theyll leave in search of their own territories.
SNH are coordinating the independent scientic monitoring of the trial, which
forms part of Scotlands Species Action Framework. The Scottish beaver trial is
running for seven years and will help ministers decide whether or not beavers can
be reintroduced into the wild elsewhere in Scotland, said Martin Gaywood of
SNH. The appearance of the kits is an important milestone. We will follow their
progress with interest and report on how they get on.

Access info on the web

A phone service that provides information about accessing Scottish hills during
the deer stalking season has been boosted with the introduction of a trial website
this year.
The Hillphones scheme alerts hillwalkers and climbers about locations where
red deer stalking is taking place. It does this through regularly updated phone
messages from 1 July to 20 October.
This year its been coupled with a new trial website, which will test out
alternative ways of providing the information for walkers.
Hillphones covers 12 popular mountain areas around Scotland. The scheme
allows walkers to enjoy their day on the hill and be condent that theyre not
disturbing stalking.
The trial website called Heading for the Scottish hills takes this a step
further by exploring a new way of providing this information. SNH will review the
trial scheme at the end of the stalking season and decide what should happen
next based on the feedback received.
You can access the trial website at



Grebe research
New research is hoping to shed light on the lives of one of Scotlands rarest birds.
The Slavonian grebe only began breeding in the UK in 1908 and today its
population remains restricted to northern Scotland. Latest counts have shown that
only 22 breeding pairs remain, which is the lowest level since monitoring records
As a relative newcomer to the country, many aspects of the birds behaviour
remain unclear. But conservationists are hoping that further study will identify what
may be driving a decline in numbers.
This striking species only began breeding in Scotland just over a century ago,
commented Stuart Benn, RSPB Scotlands conservation ofcer for the south
Highlands, so we still have a lot to learn about its behaviour and its movements in
the winter months.
What is clear is that while populations are thriving in Iceland and Norway, things
arent going so well here. It would be good to nd out why that is and what we
could do to turn around the fortunes of our Slavonian grebe population.
To do this well need to focus our research on key areas, such as the role of
weather and climate, as well as when and why chicks die. We can then compare our
results with other countries whose populations are faring well.
Despite a worrying decrease in the UK population, 2010 has provided one of
the best breeding seasons in recent years. A total of 17 chicks edged this summer.
Six of them were at RSPB Scotlands Loch Ruthven nature reserve, near Inverness,
which remains the best place in the country to see breeding Slavonian grebes.
Its unclear exactly why Loch Ruthvens breeding pairs were successful in 2010,
since they had failed to raise any young in the two previous years. But its thought
that a drier and less stormy spring may have helped. Nests are destroyed by waves,
so excess wind or stormy conditions can be damaging. In a bid to counter this,
theyre hoping to install nesting rafts next spring. Its hoped that these will protect
vulnerable nests from damage and allow more chicks to edge.


The Nature of Scotland

Scotlands communities are being given extra help to improve and enhance their
natural environment with new funding for biodiversity projects.
Up to 250,000 is being released by SNH over the next two years to deliver
biodiversity conservation at a local level.
Healthy environments are vitally important for Scotland's future prosperity,
explained Susan Davies, SNH director of policy and advice, so weve made funding
available for biodiversity projects through efciency savings and a re-targeting of
priorities at SNH. Communities across Scotland will be able to take on-the-ground
action to help local wildlife and biodiversity with this important fund.
Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said the community funding was an
exciting development that would allow local people to make a real difference in their
areas. Our vision for Scotland is for a healthy, sustainable natural environment that
supports our communities and helps us address the challenge of climate change.
We can only do this if we act together to help protect the biodiversity that benets
society in so many ways.
Were also thinking of the bigger picture as our natural environment has a key
role to play in achieving sustainable economic growth in Scotland, he added.
Our natural landscapes and iconic species are closely tied to our national identity
and help attract tourists from across the world. A recent study of wildlife tourism
showed more than a million trips are made and over 276 million is spent by people
attracted by wildlife.
In addition to releasing these funds, SNH have been working closely with two
of the Lottery providers in Scotland. Both the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and BIG
Lottery attended the recent Scottish Biodiversity Forum conference in Glasgow,
providing support for potential applicants. Our ongoing partnership with these
funders is vital in order to sustain and maintain our precious biodiversity.
More information on HLF and BIG Lottery can be found at:



Biodiversity funding support


Thanks for the fantastic response to our request for images

and stories of wild encounters. We received some wonderful
submissions and below are some of the entries that weve selected.
Please keep them coming.

Inspired by nature

1 Solitude
Pride of place this issue goes to the winning
picture in this years Scottish Biodiversity
Week photography competition. It came
from Paul Cook of Lennoxtown. Barn owls
are seldom seen during daylight hours in
Scotland, so it was great to see this intimate
portrait photograph of one.
This wild barn owl is a regular visitor to a
site just a short walk from my house, Paul
remarked, and has become quite used to
the camera. He always looks so sad and
lonely as he sits alone in the shadows, yet
at night you can regularly hear him calling to
his mate.
2 Long way from home
Magellan ragwort is a plant that grows near
my house. Its a native ower of Chile and
Argentina, and its thought to have been
brought back to Caithness by whalers.
I've started to research this and have a
dedicated blog to add info as I nd it.
Joanne Kaar, Dunnet


3 Reections
Perfect mirror of the rocky heathland
along Lochan Fuar near the Fairy Lochs,
Shieldaig, Gairloch. It was a crisp, clear and
completely still day." Lulu Stader, Gairloch

6 Serenity
This photograph of the Paps of Jura was
taken from the Sound of Islay in the late
evening light. I was on the ferry crossing
from Islay to the mainland. It was a
serene, calm evening and the photograph
opportunities continued for the whole
journey. Kate Hannett, Islay

4 Living the high life

I took this photo of a male ptarmigan on
Cairnwell mountain, near Braemar. There
7 Curiosity
were thousands of skiers enjoying the
snowy conditions, but none of them seemed I was photographing red grouse when I
saw this mountain hare, moulting into its
to notice the bird.
John Chapman, Aberdeen
summer plumage. It stopped to watch me
for a few seconds, which was just enough
5 Who invited you to dinner?
time to swing the camera and catch the
This photo was taken from the house
inquisitive look on its face.
window, which proves you dont always
Derek McGinn, Inverness
need to roam far to see nature in action.
Originally, the eld mouse arrived at dusk
when the birds were absent. But eventually
it became braver and joined in the feasting!
Robert Henderson, Edinburgh

8 Together
I took this picture of damselies mating
while visiting The Teviot Smokery Water
Gardens, between Jedburgh and Kelso.
Sheena Clark, Innerleithen
The Nature of Scotland

Give us your best!

If youd like to send in your images and
stories of wild encounters, please email
them to
Remember to include your name, where
you live and some background information
on any pictures submitted. Please restrict
yourself to only three entries per person
per issue. If youre sending in photos that
have children in them, then we need written
permission from a parent or guardian of
each child in the picture.
In contributing to The Nature of
Scotland you agree to grant us royalty-free,
non-exclusive use of your material in any
way we want and in any media.
However, youll still own the copyright
to everything you contribute, and well aim
to publish your name alongside anything
published. SNH cannot guarantee that all
pictures will be used and we reserve the
right to edit any material provided.



Marine priorities
The seas around Scotland have an
abundance of marine life. So which
species and habitats are of the greatest
conservation importance?


The Nature of Scotland

The crayfish is one of
the largest
crustaceans in
Scottish waters. Its
body can grow up to
60 cm long.

74873_magazine9.indd 23


08/09/2010 17:57

In 2007 the worlds oldest living animal was caught off the coast of
Iceland. It was an Iceland cyprine clam, which was discovered by
researchers at Bangor University to be over 400 years old.

Sea fans are typically
thought of as creatures
of the warm water
tropics, but the
northern sea fan
thrives off Scotlands
west coast.

Unfortunately, this large burrowing bivalves ability to live to a ripe old age hasnt
ensured it a secure future its now on the international list of threatened and/or
declining species.
Its also included on a new SNH list of the marine habitats and species
considered to be of greatest conservation importance in our waters. The aim of
the priority marine features (PMF) work is to help target future conservation in
Scotland more effectively.
The PMF list covers Scottish territorial waters which go out to 12 nautical
miles and contains 53 species and habitats. It was drawn up by considering
factors such as whether the features were under threat or in decline and the role
they play in Scotland's seas.
Iceland cyprine is on this list for several reasons, explained Katie Gillham,
marine manager with SNH. Its long lived, takes a long time to reach maturity
and is highly sensitive to activities that disturb the seabed, such as coastal
development or seabed shing. As a result, populations can be quickly reduced
but take a long time to recover.
The decline of the species is of concern in its own right, but may have wider
consequences. It's an important food item for a number of sh including cod,
which is also on the draft list.
Scotland's coasts and seas are among the most biologically productive in the
world, supporting around 8,000 species of plants and animals (or about 40,000
species if tiny microscopic organisms are included).
New species are still being discovered, particularly in deeper waters to the
north and west, and measures to protect this extraordinary biodiversity have been
developing rapidly over the last 30 years.

These beautiful
molluscs have a
spectacular fringe of
orange tentacles.
Divers call them ame
The angler sh uses
the lure between its
eyes to attract prey to
within its reach.



The Nature of Scotland

coasts and seas
are among the
most biologically
productive in the
world, supporting
around 8,000
species of plants
and animals.


Managing our seas

The PMF list will be used to support the advice SNH gives on marine biodiversity
and will play a part in taking forward the new marine planning and licensing
systems set out in the Marine (Scotland) Act. The list will also be used to guide
future research carried out by SNH and others. And part of the PMF work
including ame shell beds, northern sea fan communities and craysh will
be used to support the selection of marine protected areas (MPAs) for nature
To support work on MPAs, a three-year marine research programme began
this summer. Its focusing on areas where we believe there are priority marine
features. Surveys are taking place in the seas around Ullapool, the Clyde, Rockall,
Fair Isle and in the Sound of Canna.
The programme is part of the Scottish MPA project, which is being jointly
taken forward through Marine Scotland, Historic Scotland, SNH and the Joint
Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The survey results will be used by the
Scottish MPA project to provide advice to Scottish Ministers and help them to
meet international commitments to develop a network of MPAs.
The PMF list includes many well-known and exciting species such as basking
sharks, killer whales and Rissos dolphins, Katie added, as well as some
mundane sounding, but no less important, habitats.
One feature is burrowed mud, which sounds pretty dull. But plains of deep,
soft mud in Scotlands seas are home to a wealth of marine animals. The muddy
seabed is peppered with the burrows of numerous shellsh, worms and even
burrowing sh. Its also home to the spectacular reworks anemone and forests of
tall sea pens, which resemble elegant white feathers growing out of the mud.
Mud habitats are a highly productive part of the marine system and they
support Scotlands second most protable shery, which seeks out the Norway
lobster (also known as langoustine or scampi).

Farther offshore
Another exceptionally long-lived creature found in our waters
is the orange roughy, a deep-water sh known to live up to
150 years. Like Iceland cyprine, the orange roughy is slow
growing, doesnt become reproductively active until 2030
years old and is on the international list of threatened and
declining species. Between 1991 (when exploitation of
northeast Atlantic stocks began) and 1994, orange roughy
were shed down to 25% of their original population.
Orange roughy live beyond Scottish territorial waters
and are closely linked with seamounts. These underwater
mountains provide ideal conditions for a range of marine
communities, from lter-feeding creatures like sponges
and corals to top predators like sharks and rays, which are
attracted by the high levels of biodiversity.
Orange roughy and seamounts are included on a
separate PMF list being developed by JNCC for Scottish
waters beyond the 12 nautical miles limit. The two lists
will be presented to Scottish ministers and, if adopted,
combined into a single priority marine features list for the
seas around Scotland.
You can see the full draft list of PMFs for Scottish
territorial waters at It also has video clips of some of the rarely seen
creatures on the list and you can learn more about the
process undertaken by SNH to arrive at the list.


The deepwater orange
roughy can live for up
to 150 years.
The white cluster
anemone is usually
found in dark places
such as overhangs,
crevices and the roofs
of caves.

The Nature of Scotland



Beyond the classroom

Outdoor learning connects children and young people with
the natural world and provides experiences that are often
remembered for a lifetime



The Nature of Scotland

Arguments about the best way to educate kids

are probably as old as our species. But most
folk would agree that showing our youngsters a
piece of the fantastic natural world we still have in
Scotland is a worthwhile use of school time.
The Scottish Government recently published Curriculum
for Excellence through Outdoor Learning guidance for all
schools. It stated that, The journey through education for
any child in Scotland must include opportunities for a series
of planned, quality outdoor learning experiences.
SNH support a number of projects to help schools
operate beyond the classroom, including school grounds
and farm visits. However, visits to natural places are still
the exception rather than the norm. Certainly, the numbers
involved are huge. There are 700,000 young people in
school, which works out at roughly 20,000 class visits a year
if each pupil is to spend a school day in a natural place once
every two years.
The current approach of visits hosted by specialists in
outdoor learning could be expanded, as theyre ideal for
teachers with little knowledge of the natural world. But this
is unlikely to be sufcient to deal with the numbers of pupils
involved, which means we have to look at ways to bridge the
So how can we minimise the hassle for teachers and the
people who look after the places visited, while still achieving
high educational value?

The journey through education for

any child in Scotland must include
opportunities for a series of
planned, quality outdoor learning

Learning outdoors
can be fun, creative
and adventurous.



The hassle

Primary schools can get out more easily than secondary

schools, as the latter have to deal with a more complicated
timetable which is split into subjects. Joan, a learning
support teacher in a Fife secondary, recalled the difculties
she encountered at every turn when she planned to take out
a class of 15-year-olds.
First of all, the pupils had to be persuaded to go. Then
the rector baulked at the number of teachers the plan
involved. The bus company ramped up the previously agreed
price on threat of cancelling. Joan also had to learn how to
deal with a diabetic, and expert support at the site vanished
at the last minute. This is just a snapshot of the sorts of
problems that can present themselves.
Its only by addressing these difculties that the move to
outdoor work will grow, she commented. Primary school is
very different and, in terms of organising time out, it may be a
lot simpler. But I still think our pupils beneted from the day
and will continue to benet.
The class will be shaped as a result of their shared
experience, and the English and social subject departments
may begin to think more about developing an outdoor
learning curriculum.
By comparison, primary teacher Anne didnt have
anything to say about pre-visit organisational hassles when
she took her class on a trip to her local nature reserve.
Despite my initial concerns about the location, with some
narrow paths and steep gullies, the children negotiated the
woodland walk with no problems, she remarked.



The Nature of Scotland

Both these teachers are part of Teaching in Nature (TiN),

an action research project funded by SNH, with support
from the General Teaching Council for Scotland and
Stirling University. The approach allows us to chat with the
teachers, show them the site and discuss how we or the site
can be used for suitable activities, explained Catriona Reid,
who manages Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve on
It also helps to calm teachers fears about kids in the
outdoors. They know what the site looks like, what the risks
are and we can help them with risk assessments if need be.

The value
Natural places often have a fantastic atmosphere that
many school subjects can exploit. Theres no need to do
science; art and English work well, as do religious and moral
However, the wildlife that turns up has a way of grabbing
kids attention, and some idea of what the species are,
or how to find out, helps keep things relaxed. Most of the
wildlife that kids are likely to notice can easily be identified
online. All it needs is a sample or a photo.
We spent a little time at the end of our visit listening to
the sounds around us and telling each other what had been
special for us in the visit, reported Anne. However, some
spiders invaded our circle time and proved much more
interesting than listening to each other!
I felt more relaxed on the second visit and now feel
much more confident about doing this kind of thing again.
Ive already been talking to my head teacher about some
possibilities that would be within walking distance from our
school. I guess that increased confidence is one success
story for this project.
These kinds of visits make up only a tiny fraction of a
childs time in education. The cost and effort though is likely
to be considerably higher than the average school day. So
theres a good deal of pressure to prove that the value of the
visit is equally high.
Its been heartening to see the teachers gaining
confidence in using this outdoor classroom, commented
Martin Twiss, who manages Clyde Valley Woodlands
National Nature Reserve in Lanarkshire, and to see the
children negotiating steep slopes with care and delight.
Im sure theyll each remember a spider, a bird, a tree or a
badgers sett. But, perhaps more importantly, theyll also
have learnt that they dont have to stop exploring when the
pavement runs out.
The hope is that the TiN project will help convince more
schools that the outdoor environment has massive potential
for learning and that it can be achieved with minimal hassle
for teachers.

Following the changed

arrangements for local
authority funding introduced
in April 2009, SNH no longer
fund the local authority
countryside ranger service or
give grants directly to schools
for grounds projects. Our
educational funding currently
goes to:
Grounds for Learning to

support schools using their

grounds for lessons
The Royal Highland
Educational Trust, which

takes classes on to farms
and puts farmers into

Aigas Field Centre, near

Inverness, which runs
events for classes
Various river trusts for
projects under the Salmon
in the Classroom banner

Providing the Learning
Teaching Scotland website
with places to go and things

to do
Providing information and

access to materials on our

Running workshops for

teacher education staff and

Outdoor learning
connects children and
young people with the
natural world.
Pupils can use a wide
range of skills
outdoors that aren't
always visible in the

74873_magazine9.indd 31


08/09/2010 21:19

Not all the species in Scotland that need

protecting will be familiar to the public. But
some of these little-heard-of rarities have a
big story to tell

The rainforests
ngered fungus



The Nature of Scotland

Hazel gloves fungus is
only known in Britain
from some sites in
western Scotland and
a few locations in
Devon and Cornwall.
Hazel woodlands have
the look and feel of
ancient places. They
support special
lichens, mosses and
fungi that are rarely
found elsewhere.

Most people think of iconic

animals like the red squirrel or
capercaillie when theyre asked
about protecting threatened
species in Scotland.

oakwoods and older than some of the

Caledonian pinewoods. Hazel was one
of the earliest woody species along
with birch to establish along the
western edge of Scotland, as far back
as 10,000 years ago.
Because of the long time that many
hazelwoods have occupied some
However, some of the species that
sites, theyve acquired some special
need help to survive and prosper are
features. The richness and the glory
hardly known at all to the public, and
some may even appear a little strange. of the lichens, mosses and fungi in
long-established hazelwoods have led
Take the hazel gloves fungus, for
example. Scotland is the UK stronghold to them being described as part of the
Celtic rainforest.
for this unusual fungus with its fingerThe term relates to the mild damp
like lobes, which was first discovered
climate, but also refers to the long
in Europe on the island of Mull in
periods when these woodlands
1975. Previously, it was only known
were left to grow unhindered. There
in North America where it grows on
are species found in the Atlantic
In Scotland, this fungus is confined hazelwoods that are better developed
and more luxuriant than probably
to ancient stands of Atlantic hazel
elsewhere in Europe. These include the
on the west coast. One of the best
hazel gloves fungus.
recorded Scottish sites is a woodland
A few of our hazelwoods provide
that hasnt been coppiced or thinned for
many years and therefore contains a lot the only Scottish home for the hazel
gloves fungus, which is limited to about
of deadwood, much of which is hazel.
Atlantic hazelwoods are actually one 25 sites. Now action is being taken, as
of Scotlands most ancient woodlands. part of the Species Action Framework
and with support from the LEADER
Theyre older by far than our Atlantic

74873_magazine9.indd 33

programme, to raise the profile and

improve management of the west
coasts hazelwoods where it survives.
We aim to work with landowners
to encourage them to manage and
expand the hazelwoods, explained
Gordon Gray Stephens, project officer
for the Atlantic Hazel Action Group.
Grazing animals are a natural part
of our woodlands, and grazing is the
recommended way to keep our Atlantic
hazelwoods in good shape.
There will also be opportunities
for locals to get involved through a
series of free training events, as well
as support for volunteer surveying and
monitoring. These woods are a Scottish
speciality and the hazel gloves is a rare
but important part of that environment.
You can find out more about the
project by contacting Gordon Gray
Stephens on 01852 500 366 or
emailing gordon.graystephens@ For
more information about hazel gloves
go to

08/09/2010 21:19

Scotland once boasted ne fruit orchards, but theyve

all disappeared down the years. However, efforts are
under way to create new ones across the country, as
John Hancox explains

Creating a
fruitful Scotland
Its autumn, and one of the real joys of this season of mists and
mellow fruitfulness is undoubtedly fruit. Im talking here of the
apples, pears and plums that grow so well in Scotland.
Keats was of course thinking of English
orchards when he wrote that line in his
poem To Autumn, but over the past
few years theres been a real revival
of interest in Scottish fruit growing.
Across the country there are schools,
towns, villages and communities all
planting new community orchards. And
there are other projects to map and nd
a future for existing fragments of former
orchards in the Clyde Valley, as well as
the Carse of Gowrie.
Fruit growing can be a very
personal passion. For me, the interest
in growing Scottish apples came about
when I saw, or rather smelt, the apple
collection at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.
This collection of about 150 apple
varieties set out on trestles not only
looked amazing, but the smell of apples
also hit you full on. It was put together
by John Butterworth, the acknowledged
expert on Scottish apples, who has
done a huge amount to trigger the
current interest in fruit growing across
That visit to Culzean was in
2004, and it led to the launch of the
Childrens Orchard project, rstly in
Glasgow, and then across Scotland.
The rst planting was a tree in George
Square, and over the past few years
weve planted in hundreds of schools

and with many community groups,

involving thousands of children
planting thousands of apple trees
with a small army of volunteers. Were
currently working on planting the
Commonwealth Orchard, which is a
Scotland-wide legacy of 2014 fruit
trees to mark the Commonwealth
Games being held in Glasgow.
Back in 20072008, the Childrens
Orchard got grant support from SNH
for a feasibility study to look at rolling
out community orchards. One of the
conclusions was that a national
networking group was needed
to bring together local
initiatives. This led to an
Apple Day at the Holyrood
Parliament in 2008, bringing
together people with an
interest in fruit growing from
across Scotland. Following
on from that, we established
a community-led group
called Scottish Orchards.
This group aims to support
people interested in all
aspects of fruit growing across
the country and who want to create
a Fruitful Scotland.
We also held a recent Scottish
Orchards Gathering to celebrate the
achievements of the many schools,



groups and individuals from across

Scotland working to make Scotland
more fruitful. Glasgow Cathedral held
the event at St Mungos Museum, which
was chosen as a venue because monks
planted one of the oldest orchards
in Scotland there around 1100 AD.
So you can tell that fruit growing in
Scotland isnt exactly new!
The Gathering explored the
educational, cultural and community
value of fruit growing, as well as the
unique variety of wildlife linked with fruit
trees. While traditional orchards have
declined steeply to the point where
theres virtually no commercial apple


growing left in Scotland people are

planting thousands of new trees in
small orchards of a few trees, or even
single trees in gardens. These will
create the new orchards of the 21st
century across the whole of the country.
Ultimately, the best reasons for
planting fruit trees and valuing their
produce is because they not only look
and smell good, but they also taste
great. In addition, children love picking
fruit, and the dream is for all Scottish
children to be able to pick fruit from the
trees theyve planted. And, who knows,
perhaps theyll bring their own children
back to pick fruit from those same trees.

Apple Days are popping up across

Scotland and are great places to see,
smell and taste our many different
varieties. Check out where theyre
taking place by clicking on or
Picking fruit from the
tree is something that
every child enjoys.
Fruit is good for both
people and wildlife.


Reserve focus

Glen of the
dappled woodland



The Nature of Scotland

Glen Affric still has
one of the largest
remnants of the
ancient Caledonian
pine forest that once
covered much of the

Glen Affric is often described as the most beautiful

glen in Scotland. It ranges through wild open
moorland to ancient woods and tumbling burns.
In autumn its a riot of colour with the ochres and
oranges of the birch and aspen leaves.
The glen stretches for some 48 km from Kintail in the west to
within a few kilometres of Cannich in Strathglass. The west end
is dominated by moorland and you can feel the looming presence
of the mountains all around you. In the east the glen boasts one
of the largest remnants of the ancient Caledonian pinewood that
once covered much of the Highlands. The long, thin national nature
reserve offers you a range of different experiences and is managed
by Forestry Commission Scotland with nature as its primary aim.
To reach Glen Affric, travel down Strathglass from Beauly or head
west from Loch Ness. Cannich is the main point of entry to Glen
Affric NNR and is approximately 27 km from Beauly and 19 km from
Drumnadrochit. Glen Affric lies 8 km west of Cannich on the Glen
Affric road, off the A831.
With six walks on offer ranging in length from 15 minutes to
1.5 hours, theres plenty to choose from. You can go for moderate
climbs to reveal stunning vistas or low level walks through fragrant
forests. The car park halfway down Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin is
good for picnicking and wildlife watching.
This walk begins at the Dog Falls car park at the eastern end of
Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin. It takes you past the Coire Loch on a
natural path surface thats steep in places. The trail is just over 5 km
and should take about an hour and a half to go round.



To C

Dog Falls

River Affric

Loch 4

To River Affric
10.8 km
Picnic area


74873_magazine9.indd 37




08/09/2010 18:10

Follow the waymarked yellow trail that heads downsteam along the nearside
of the River Affric. The path crosses over the public road (watch for trafc) and
the rst stop is at the Dog Falls. The falls themselves are not very high, but the
fast ow, ne setting and rocky gorge make this a delightful spot. If the river is in
spate, then the deep roar of the pounding, whisky-coloured river is breathtaking
as it pours over the falls.
As you continue along the path that winds through the pinewoods, look out for
fungi like penny buns and y agarics that appear magically overnight in the damp
woodland. The next point to stop will be the footbridge, which gives great views
of the gorge upriver. In the depths of winter, the mist coming off the water covers
everything in the gorge with a frosting of ice, giving a dreamlike quality.

The Dog Falls are said
to get their name
because this section of
the River Affric follows
the shape of a dog's
Good enough to eat
chanterelle fungi are
always associated with
Looking out over the
pines to secluded
Coire Loch, which is
surrounded by



The Nature of Scotland

Continuing on your walk away from the

river, take the left fork and head towards
Coire Loch. Your rst glimpse of this
is from high ground, providing an ideal
opportunity to survey the whole of the
still water for any bird movement. The
path soon passes close to the shore of
the loch, which is a breeding location
for a large range of dragonies.
Moving away from the open pine
woods, the path takes you along the
forest road. Look for brown bracket
fungus on trees, golden chanterelle
mushrooms and grey-green old mans
beard lichen draped from the branches.
Keep an eye out too for the mounds
built by the ants found in the pinewood.



At the next junction, follow the signed route off to the right (by a bench carved
from a tree trunk) and head back down to the Dog Falls. This takes you alongside
some very active woodpecker trees and you should look out too for the rare
Scottish crossbill. Theyre conned to the Scots pine forests of the Scottish
highlands, both ancient Caledonian pinewoods and new commercial plantations.
This is the UKs only endemic bird species (one which is found nowhere else in
the world).

Crossbills are instantly
recognisable. The
birds use their crossed
bill to pry open the
tight scales of cones
and extract the seed
from within.
Water lilies and
reections on the
Coire Loch.

Glen Affric is one of over 50 national nature reserves in Scotland. Find out more at


The Nature of Scotland

Essential information
Glen Affric lies 8 km west of Cannich on the Glen Affric
road, off the A831. Theres an infrequent bus service from
Inverness as far as Cannich. Buses run from Beauly to the
head of Glen Affric from July to September and they can
take bikes.
At the reserve youll nd several car parks with picnic
tables, two seasonal toilets (one disabled) and waymarked
paths. A Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) guidemap is
available. Theres also camping, accommodation and a shop
in the nearby communities of Cannich and Tomich.

If you have a dog with you, please make sure you keep it on
a short lead or under close control at all times. Please also
make sure you pick up after your dog and dispose of waste

Further information

Landranger 25 (Glen Carron & Glen Affric)

Explorer 415 (Glen Affric & Glen Moriston)

The reserve is open all year. You can download a Glen

Affric leaet from the FCS website
ScotlandHighlandNoForestGlenAffric or get further
information from FCS by phoning 01463 791 575 or email

Trail length

Nearby natural attractions

Coire Loch 5.2 km

Dog Falls 3.2 km
Viewpoint Walk 1.6 km

Plodda Falls are spectacular, with two rivers meeting and

joining at the falls. There are two circular, waymarked walks
which go to Plodda Falls the Tweedmouth Trail and the
shorter Falls Trail. Plodda is surrounded by some of the
tallest Douglas rs in Scotland, many measuring over 65
metres. To reach the falls, follow the A831 from either
Beauly or Drumnadrochit and take the unclassied road
signposted to Tomich. Go through Tomich and continue
along the bumpy forest track. Plodda Falls car park is 5.5 km
along this road.

OS maps

Clear, waymarked forest footpaths and tracks; rocky in



SNH Area News

Dumfries and Galloway
Correspondents: Trevor Godden, Barry Dunne, Vicki Warren

BiG launch

Wild walks

Supporting Seasearch

A new project is under way across the

region to try and get a better picture
of the health of our insect population.
Environment minister Roseanna
Cunningham (pictured above) launched
Bugs in Gardens (BiG), which aims
to involve as many people as possible
in recording sightings of species from
bumblebees to beetles.
Free training and handy
identification guides are on offer to give
people the practical skills to identify
a range of garden bugs, so even
complete beginners can take part. The
focus is on easy to recognise creatures
such as ladybirds, bumblebees and
garden snails.
The minister said how appropriate
the project was during this International
Year of Biodiversity, and noted the
important role that insects play in
pollinating fruit and crops, as well as
keeping our soil healthy. The project
will also advise on how to help bugs
thrive, given concerns about declining
Dumfries and Galloway
Environmental Resources Centre
(DGERC) set up the two-year project,
which is funded by the Heritage Lottery
Fund, LEADER, SNH and Dumfries
and Galloway Council. If youd like to
find out more about the project, or are
interested in taking part, please contact
DGERC on 01387 249 207.

Weve long been involved in supporting

tourism and the rural economy across
the region. Our latest tourism grant is
for a new walking guide, 12 Wildlife
Walks in Dumfries and Galloway, which
is a partnership between ourselves
and VisitScotland. It features a variety
of family walks from across the region,
ranging from a half-hour stroll to a more
energetic 10 km.
Each walk provides details of how to
get around the route, but also focuses
on some of the wildlife highlights to
look out for along the way. With lots
of colour photographs throughout, the
guide includes interesting Did you
know? facts about the species youre
likely to come across. So whether its
the mallards of Moffat, the dragonflies
of Kirkconnel, or the mussel-munching
eider ducks of Loch Ryan, we have a
great walk for everyone.
Dumfries and Galloway is the
perfect place to experience natures
finest sights, sounds and scents,
whatever the time of year. So get your
walking shoes on and enjoy one of
our fantastic wildlife walks. You can
download a copy of the guide at www.
ifewalks, or pick up a copy at a local
tourist information centre.

Were helping a local diving club gather

information about a special place in
Dumfries & Galloway. Divers from
Newton Stewart Sub Aqua Club were
keen to join the Seasearch project but
lacked funds for equipment. Seasearch
is a programme run by the Marine
Conservation Society to train volunteer
sports divers to identify and record
the underwater environment around
Britains coasts.
An SNH grant provided the
club with an underwater video and
stills camera, as well as the special
equipment needed to record the
marine life in Luce Bay, a special area
of conservation off the coast of West
Galloway. The local divers will complete
at least 25 Seasearch surveys this
year, helping to locate the richest
sites for marine life and areas that
may need protection. This information
will complement our recent survey of
seabed habitats in Luce Bay and help
in the future management of this special
We plan to display the video footage
and a selection of the still pictures at
local visitor centres, such as the Mull of
Galloway RSPB reserve. You can see
a photo gallery of underwater images
from the project at


74873_magazine9.indd 42

The Nature of Scotland

08/09/2010 18:01

SNH Area News

Tayside and Clackmannanshire
Correspondents: Sue Warbrick, Helen Taylor, Richard Cooper

Teachers guide

Juniper hunt

Weed wipe out

Loch Leven National Nature Reserve

is a terrific place for children to find
out about Scotlands nature and go
home with the bug for learning more.
Its a jewel in the crown of Scotlands
biodiversity and literally full of life.
Its Scotlands largest lowland loch
and one of Britains most important
sites for waterfowl. Up to 1,000 pairs
of nesting ducks, as well as tens of
thousands of geese and wildfowl, visit
every autumn and winter. But it also has
harder-to-spot newts and tiny water
beetles, rare plants like lesser butterfly
orchid and holy grass, as well as nightflying moths and bats.
Weve now launched a new
teaching guide that you can find on
our website. It highlights and helps
you to plan opportunities for outdoor
learning, with examples of projects
that local teachers have already done.
It shows that outdoor learning doesnt
need specialist equipment, money for
transport or expert instructors.
The teachers guide is part of the
Growing up with Loch Leven initiative,
which involves a partnership of SNH,
RSPB and Perth and Kinross Council.
It was set up to encourage local
schools to pursue outdoor learning on
the reserve throughout a pupils school

Could you help safeguard juniper for

the future? This summer weve been
carrying out a survey of native juniper
in Perth and Kinross. It was once a
common shrub in Scotland but today
is one of Britain's most threatened
species. Its also one of Britains only
three native conifers along with
Scots pine and yew and has been
traditionally valued as firewood, a
building material and a medicine.
Nowadays, its used to flavour food and
drink, particularly gin.
Juniper can live for over 100 years,
but a lack of young plants is gradually
leading to its extinction in Britain's
lowlands. This includes the four sites of
special scientific interest in Perth and
Kinross that are designated for juniper.
A whole host of other wildlife, including
insects and fungi, also relies on juniper.
All our current survey records
appear on the website
However, there may be new areas
that we dont know about, or simply
juniper outposts that no-one has ever
If you know of wild juniper growing
somewhere in Perth and Kinross,
please take a look at our website.
For further information, or if you have
difficulty downloading the map
or instructions, please email juniper@

The River South Esk is under threat of

invasion! Non-native weeds, including
giant hogweed, are taking over river
banks and harming the important native
wildlife. This large river catchment in
Angus is a special area of conservation
for Atlantic salmon and freshwater
pearl mussels, both of which are
indirectly affected by the weeds.
The catchment also supports a wide
range of economic activity through
farming, forestry, fisheries, tourism and
To tackle the problem, the River
South Esk Catchment Partnership are
clearing the weeds over a large area
in 2010. This will benefit the salmon,
mussels and other native wildlife. It
will also help the local community by
reducing the health risks posed by
giant hogweed and improving access
opportunities around the river. Raising
awareness of non-native invasive
species should also limit their spread
and improve the variety of wildlife.
The partnership are also developing
a river watch scheme where the public
can report invasive weeds or poaching
of freshwater pearl mussels. Wildlife
records can be provided too.
You can find out more at
or call project coordinator Kelly Ann
Dempsey on 01307 473 355.

74873_magazine9.indd 43


08/09/2010 21:19

SNH Area News

West Highland
Correspondents: Christine Welsh, Martin Faulkner, Sarah Prall

Des-res for bats

Parallel fame

Mink survey on track

A warm and clean welcome

awaited bats at the National Trust for
Scotland's Glennnan Visitor Centre
when they arrived back earlier this
year. The centres timber wall cladding
now includes a state-of-the-art bat
roost after work to replace old timbers.
The refurbishment included design
improvements to allow the colony of
bats to make their seasonal return to
the building, where theyve had a home
since the building went up 30 years
Bats are a protected species, so
no work began until SNH could advise
on the best way to avoid harming the
animals. Usually, work can take place
outwith the maternity season when
the bats are not present. The building
has a maternity roost of around 170
pipistrelle bats.
The buildings unique and innovative
design now allows the bats access to
the cavity, while stopping water getting
in. It also allows the bat droppings to
escape, making it less likely that there
will be further problems for the bats or
the building.
With autumn approaching, the bats
are now leaving the maternity roost to
nd a safe place to hibernate through
the winter. But come spring, theyll be
back again to breed in their new and
improved accommodation.

The famous parallel roads in Glen Roy

National Nature Reserve are about to
become even more well known when
they feature in three different television
programmes this autumn.
The parallel roads are a series of
striking horizontal lines on the hillside.
Early Highlanders thought they were
made by the mythical giant-hero Fingal.
Later scientic theories included the
notion that they were beaches created
at a time of rapid changes in sea level,
a theory initially championed by Charles
Later, he supported Swiss geologist
Louis Agassiz, who proposed that the
roads were beaches formed by a large
lake dammed by ice. The roads are
still studied today and its now clear
that theyre the result of the action of
glaciers and melt waters during the last
ice age some 10,000 years ago.
This autumn Glen Roy and its
amazing landforms will feature in
The Birth of Britain on Channel 4,
presented by Tony Robinson. A BBC
programme, exploring how Scottish
geologists and geology shaped early
thinking about our planet, will also
feature the site. And Glen Roy will
feature as well in the second series
of Great British Railway Journeys, as
presenter Michael Portillo discovers the
delights of the West Highland railway

American mink are being tracked

across Skye and Lochalsh this
summer. The Skye and Lochalsh
Environment Forum (SLEF) have
developed a plan to nd out just how
widespread this non-native predator is
in their area.
American mink are becoming
increasingly common in the UK and
can pose a signicant threat to native
wildlife, particularly wildfowl, waders
and water voles. SLEF have been
able to appoint local consultant Rob
Forrest to train and coordinate a team
of 50 volunteers, thanks to funding
support from SNH, LEADER and the
Highland Council,.
Each volunteer will take charge of
a mink raft or tunnel, which presents a
specially designed structure that mink
like to enter. Each structure is tted
with a clay pad that preserves the
footprints of passing animals. These
will be monitored from August to April,
with any distinctive mink footprints
recorded to give an indication of their
All the data will then be looked
at to provide valuable information
about the spread of mink in this part
of Scotland. It should help to inform
decisions on the action needed to
curb their spread in future.



The Nature of Scotland

SNH Area News

Argyll and Stirling
Correspondents: Paul Roberts, Dave Pickett, Caroline Anderson

Anti-social behaviour

Birds-eye view

African visitors

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

National Park Board have approved a
new byelaw to ban camping on the east
shore of Loch Lomond. Its designed to
tackle irresponsible camping, which
has led to damage to trees, littering and
anti-social behaviour (like the burnt-out
car shown above).
The ban would apply outside
designated camping areas between
Drymen and Rowardennan. This would
be the first action of its kind and would
make wild camping permitted under
the Land Reform Act 2003 illegal
along a 10 km stretch of the West
Highland Way. But theres also concern
that it will simply move irresponsible
camping to other areas of the park.
SNH are supporting the byelaw
proposal as long as theres provision for
informal camping within the restricted
zone. Weve been working closely with
key partners, including the park and
Buchanan Community Council, on a
400,000 package of measures. These
include developing a managed informal
campsite at Sallochy Bay. Weve also
asked the park to monitor and manage
any camping that moves to another part
of the loch.
Final approval rests with government
ministers. If they give the go-ahead,
then the park hopes to introduce the
byelaw in April 2011.

The viewing tower at Flanders Moss

National Nature Reserve has attracted
many visitors since it opened last
winter. But one couple of special note
was a pair of redstarts that actually
nested in the tower this summer.
Numbers of visitors coming to see
this fine peatland NNR near Stirling
have gone up by about 50% since
the tower opened. So it was quite a
surprise when reserve staff found these
beautiful birds had decided to nest a
few centimetres below everyones feet,
just under the platform itself.
These brightly coloured members of
the thrush family normally nest in holes
in trees, but the tower and all its nooks
and crannies obviously appealed more.
These birds are listed as a species of
conservation concern owing to their
declining population, making it all the
more special that they chose the tower
to nest in. The parents continued to
feed the young even when people
were using the tower, and have now
successfully fledged their youngsters.
Reserve staff will be waiting to see if
they return next year. Meanwhile, theyre
giving some thought to how the tower
might attract even more bird species.

Author and journalist, Marian Pallister,

is coordinator of the Mthunzi & Lilanda
Initiative (MALI). This is a Scottish
charity thats working with children and
young adults in Zambia who have been
affected by HIV and AIDS. Most of
them have also been street children.
Marian brings a group over to midArgyll every second year, alternating
with a group of local young people
going to Zambia. Its mainly a cultural
exchange, and when theyre here they
work closely with the Gaelic choir
Coisir og Dalriada and the Mid Argyll
Pipe Band. Each visit has a theme and
this year it was climate change.
We were delighted to be able to
respond positively to Marions request
for a group visit to Taynish National
Nature Reserve. Local staff provided
a reserve tour and delivered a talk to
the group on the relevance of climate
change to Scotlands natural heritage.
They also loaned the youngsters
digital cameras for the day. Under
the expert guidance of Lorne Gill,
SNHs professional photographer,
they were able to document their
visit and generate images for use in
their own presentations in the future.
Further information on MALI can be
found at:
Home.html and

74873_magazine9.indd 45


08/09/2010 21:19

Events diary 2010


Saturday 2

Dark Skies
Sly in the Sky
Corrie Fee NNR

Beginners guide from 7.30pm to 9.30pm to the

night sky around the constellation of Vulpecula,
the Fox. Telescope and binocular viewing if the
sky is clear; illustrated talk if the sky is cloudy.
Booking is essential.

Tel: 01575 550 233

Join reserve staff and fungi expert Tony Wilson

at Burleigh car park for walks from 2pm to 5pm
around Loch Leven in search of fungi. Booking

Tel: 01577 864 439

Roaring and Rutting!

Beinn Eighe NNR
Wester Ross

Look our for rutting stags on Beinn Eighe from

9.30am to 4pm and learn about the life of the red
deer. Meet at the reserve visitor centre. Booking

Tel: 01445 760 254

Saturday 9

Dawn Goose Watch

Loch Leven NNR

Meet up with reserve staff in Kirkgate car park

(near the watch tower) at 7am to watch the geese
leaving their night-time roosts. Booking essential.

Tel: 01577 864 439

Sunday 17

Come to a Stag Party

Corrie Fee NNR

A walk from 11am to 3pm along the Dounalt

loop path to watch and listen to the roaring of
the rutting red deer stags as they round up their
harem of hinds and warn off other rival stags.
Meet at Glen Doll ranger base. Booking essential.

Tel: 01575 550 233

Sunday 17

Evening Flight
Caerlaverock NNR
Dumfries & Galloway

Join reserve staff on this unusual event from 5pm

to 6.30pm, and experience the sights and sounds
of a spectacular wildfowl flight, hopefully at
close quarters. Meet at Hollands Road car park.
Booking essential.

Tel: 01387 770 275

Sunday 17

Nature Trail
Kirkconnell Flow NNR
Dumfries & Galloway

Come along from 11am to 2pm and try your hand

at being a nature detective on our fun nature
trail. A keen pair of eyes will be all that is needed
to find the clues on this circular trail.

Tel: 01387 770 275

Sunday 24

Dawn Goose Watch

Loch Leven NNR

Meet up with reserve staff in Kirkgate car park

(near the watch tower) at 7am to watch the geese
leaving their night-time roosts. Booking essential.

Tel: 01577 864 439

Sunday 24

Owling at the Moon

Cairnsmore of
Fleet NNR
Dumfries & Galloway

Flying owls and stargazing. Come along from

4pm to 9pm and see three different types of owl
in flight; learn about the moon and the night sky.
Telescopes will be available for stargazing. With
over 7,000 visible stars to look at, you'll be spoilt
for choice.

Tel: 01557 814 435

Sunday 24

Birch Broomsticks
Flanders Moss NNR

Drop in from 10.30am to 4.00pm and help us to

clear invading birch trees that dry out the bog.
Make your very own witchs broomstick.

Tel: 01786 450 362


Sunday 3 Fungi Forays

Loch Leven NNR

Wednesday 6


74873_magazine9.indd 46

The Nature of Scotland

08/09/2010 21:19

Wednesday 27 Area Evening

Thursday 28 Receptions
Durness, Sutherland
Kirkwall, Orkney


An opportunity for local people to meet with

board members and senior Area staff. All
welcome (please check SNH website or local
Area office to confirm venues and timings).

Come and have your say from 4pm to 8pm as

part of the public consultation on the woodlands
of Clyde Valley Woodlands NNR. Drop in and
discuss with reserve staff the management of
these woodlands.

Tel: 01555 665 928

Saturday 6 Guided Walk

Cleghorn Glen
Clyde Valley
Woodlands NNR

Join reserve staff for a wander through this

remnant of the ancient woodland that would once
have covered most of central lowland Scotland.
Booking essential.

Tel: 01555 665 928

Sunday 14 Rory McSquirrel

Corrie Fee NNR

Come along and watch the antics of the red

squirrels at our feeders in the Glen Doll forest and
discover the variety of methods used to estimate
their numbers. Meet at Glen Doll ranger base.
Booking essential.

Tel: 01575 550 233

Spend the day from 10.30am to 4.00pm cutting

and burning scrub on a traditionally managed wet
meadow at the edge of Flanders Moss. Booking

Tel: 01786 450 362


An opportunity for local people to meet with

board members and senior Area staff. All
welcome (please check SNH website or local
Area office to confirm venues and timings).

Join the ranger and search for crossbills, which

may be located by their recognisable flight call.
Meet at Glen Doll ranger base. Booking essential.

Tel: 01575 550 233

An opportunity for local people to meet with

board members and senior Area staff. All
welcome (please check SNH website or local
Area office to confirm venues and timings).

Spend the day from 10.30am to 4.00pm helping

us clear small pine trees from the bog. Take
home your very own, personally selected, native
Flanders Moss Scots pine Christmas tree.
Booking essential.

Tel: 01786 450 362


Meet at Findatie car park and join reserve staff

from 10am to 12 noon looking for the birds
on view during the colder months of the year.
Booking essential.

Tel: 01577 864 439

Wednesday 3 Drop-in Session

SNH Office
30 Hope Street

Sunday 7 Slash, Burn and

Flanders Moss NNR

Thursday 11 Area Evening

Wednesday 24 Receptions
Lochmaddy, N Uist


Sunday 5 Parrot of the Woods

Corrie Fee NNR
Thursday 9 Area Evening
Wednesday 15 Receptions
Sunday 12 Christmas Tree
Flanders Moss NNR

Thursday 30 Winter Bird Walk

Loch Leven NNR

74873_magazine9.indd 47


08/09/2010 21:19

Dualchas coitcheann
Common heritage
Dthaich nan Cat
The wildcat is named on
many of our natural features, Tha an cat adhaich air ainmeachadh ann an grunn iteachan
air mapa na h-Alba, a cur smuain nar cinn gun robh e
as Ruairidh MacIlleathain
uaireigin sgapte thar dthaich mhr agus na bu lonmhoire
na tha e an-diugh. Ged nach fhaicear cat adhaich ach
ainneamh, bha na Gidheil elach gu ler orra anns an
t-seann aimsir, co-dhi a rir nam mapaichean.
Gu tric, tha an cat co-cheangailte ri ite garbh creagach
no talamh rd, agus chithear sin sna h-ainmean. Tha tr
beanntan air a bheil Beinn a Chait t air a Chomraich,
t san Eilean Sgitheanach agus t ann an Athall; tha
Druim a Chait faisg air an t Athallaich. Tha Meall a Chait
ann an Gleanna Garadh, tha Crn a Chait faisg air Baile
Dhubhthaich, tha Cnoc a Chait ann an ceann a tuath
Mhuile agus, ann an Srath Sp gheibhear Tom a Chait.
Agus tha co-dhi leth-dhusan ite air a bheil Creag a Chait,
eadar Brigh Mhrr air an taobh an ear agus an t-Eilean
Sgitheanach is le air an taobh an iar.
Bidh cait a nochdadh ann an grunn fheartan-tre eile,
leithid Coire a Chait faisg air Loch Cluainidh, Allt a Chait
ann am meadhan Ghallaibh, Eas nan Cat ann an Cinn
Tre agus Eilean a Chait faisg air a Phloc. Agus ann an
Siorrachd Pheairt tha d lochan air a bheil Lochan a Chait
agus tr air a bheil Lochan nan Cat. Feumaidh gu robh an cat
adhaich gu math pailt uaireigin anns an t-siorrachd sin!
S dcha gur e Cataibh an t-ite as ainmeile a tha cocheangailte ri cait ann an Alba. Thathar a smaoineachadh
gur e Muinntir nan Cat a bh air na daoine anns an sgre
sin agus gur iad a thug an t-ainm don chern sin. Thathar a
gabhail Machair Chat fhathast air an talamh osal air taobh
an ear na siorrachd, Brigh Chat air an talamh rd gu siar
air sin agus Dthreabh Chat air an dthaich fhosgailte ann
am meadhan na siorrachd; s e Morair Chat a chanas na
Gidheil ri The Duke of Sutherland. Tha Caithness a tighinn
bhon t-Seann Lochlannais Katanes Rubha Muinntir nan Cat
agus tha dil gur e Innse Cat a bh air Sealtainn ro linn nan
S iomadh seanfhacal a th againn co-cheangailte ri
cait tha liosta de 67 aig Foirbeis anns an leabhar aige
Gaelic Names of Beasts etc ach anns a mhr-chuid tha
iad a-mach air cait taighe, seach feadhainn fhiadhaich. Seo
cuid a dhfhaodadh a bhith a danamh tuairisgeul air ndar
a chait fhiadhaich a cheart cho math ris a chat taighe: cha
toirear on chat ach an craiceann; ciod a dhanadh mac a
chait, ach luch a ghlacadh?; cog air a chat is togaidh e a
fhrioghan air.


The Nature of Scotland

Land of the Cats

For an animal thats rarely seen today, the Scottish wildcat
appears on our maps surprisingly often, particularly in the
Gidhealtachd. The Gaelic is cat (sounds like kaht) but
it almost always appears in the altered forms a chait (uh
CHATCH, of the cat) or nan cat (nuhn KAHT, of the cats).
There are three mountains called Beinn a Chait, half a
dozen crags or hills called Creag a Chait, and other high
land called Meall a Chait, Cnoc a Chait and Tom a Chait.
Sometimes cat names crop up in relation to water bodies,
such as Eas nan Cat (the waterfall of the wildcats) in Kintyre
and Allt a Chait (the burn of the wildcat) in Caithness.
Place names indicate a signicant presence of this species
in Perthshire in earlier times there are no less than ve
lochans in the county named after the wildcat.
The cat people inhabited the northeastern Highlands
in earlier times, giving us a probable pre-Norse name
for Shetland of Innse Cat (isles of the cat people), and
the modern Gaelic for Sutherland of Cataibh. However,
Caithness derives from the Norse Katanes, promontory of
the cat people.

Gann an-diugh ach na
bu phailte uaireigin a
rir teisteanas nan
clran-tre an cat
adhaich Albannach.
The Scottish wildcat
rarely glimpsed
today, but a signicant
presence in Gaelic
place names across
the Highlands.



Photo nish
The 20th Scottish Nature Photography Fair took place
at the beginning of September and featured a ne mix of
photographers to mark this special occasion.
SNHs conference centre at Battleby, outside Perth, was the
venue for the two-day event, with a variety of presentations,
exhibitions, workshops and trade stalls for folk to browse. The
photography reached the customary high standards, as the
photos over the next few pages show.



The Nature of Scotland

Danny Green
Hailing from Leicestershire, Danny
has an interest in all kinds of natural
history ranging across mammals,
birds, insects and reptiles. Most of his
work is based in the UK, where his
favourite destination is the Shetland
Isles. He regards the islands as a
wildlife photographer's dream when
the weather is right, with vast seabird
colonies and northern specialities.
His images regularly feature in wildlife
magazines and he has received
numerous awards for his photography.
Otters grooming.

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08/09/2010 21:19

Fergus Gill
Fergus had amazing success with
his photography in 2009, winning the
Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife
Photographer of the Year competition
and the Fritz Polking Junior Award.
Fergus started wildlife photography
at the age of nine when lm cameras
were still in use. But he has now moved
over to digital, allowing him to work in
the extremes of weather so common
in Scotland. The work of his father,
Lorne, is familiar to regular readers of
this magazine, as he is SNHs in-house



The Nature of Scotland

Alexander Mustard

Alex trained and worked as a marine

biologist, but since 2004 has worked
full time as a professional underwater
photographer and author. He took his
rst pictures underwater at the age of
nine and is now widely regarded as
one of the most creative underwater
photographers. He has also pioneered
many of the specialist techniques of
digital underwater photography. Alexs
images have won many awards and
been widely published and exhibited.

Fieldfare feeding on
frosted berries.
Mountain hare.
Yellow tube sponge,
Cayman Islands.



Niall Benvie
Niall has worked as a professional outdoor photographer and writer since
graduating from Dundee University in 1993 after an earlier career as a fruit
farmer. His special interest is in the nature / culture dynamic, although his writing
ranges across a whole variety of topics. Hes author and illustrator of three
internationally published books and a founding Fellow of the International League
of Conservation Photographers.


Ice stasis.

Saltmarsh near Cadiz.



The Nature of Scotland

Ian Cameron

Based near Forres in Moray, Ian has

been a photographer for over 20 years.
He specialises in landscape and travel
photography, and still prefers to use
lm-based equipment rather than digital
cameras. His favourite times to be out
are dawn and dusk when light changes
rapidly and produces rare moments of
beauty. Ian refers to this as transient
light and has published a wide range
of his work capturing these moments in
calendar and book form.



Get near to nature

Peer into an Argyll ravine and youre looking into another world
from which most of us are excluded by the steep rocky walls.
However, an exciting new trail offers you the chance to explore
this secret world



The Nature of Scotland

SNH in Lochgilphead. Its generally cool, with lots of wet

days each year and relatively few days of frost. These are
ideal conditions for the mosses, liverworts and lichens.
Once its been pointed out that this is no ordinary place,
with no ordinary collection of species, Stan continued, then
its hard not to scan the trunks of the trees, the branches and
the twigs. You end up searching the smallest spaces to see
the sheer diversity of life here.
The secret is simply to look and the more you look,
the more you see. By focusing in, the strange shapes and
different forms of these plants begin to reveal themselves.
Mosses and liverworts are tiny plants but they play an
important role in the health and function of our environment.
They provide a home for woodland creatures and act like a
giant sponge that slows the ow of rain into our burns and
rivers. Many of the liverworts have interesting smells and give
the woodlands a distinct sweet and peppery perfume.
At rst, you might think that these lower plants are
obscure organisms that will never be revealed by a simple
stroll through the woods. But, as the small path winds its
way down into the gorge, youll pass so many of these
species that they would be very hard to miss they literally
cover most of the tree trunks and branches.
This exciting new trail helps open a small window on
the riches to be found in one of mid-Argylls most secretive
habitats. The Near to Nature Trail starts from the car park at
Dunardry, 5 km west of Lochgilphead near the Crinan Canal.
You can also access a number of other walks and cycle rides
from this area.

The ravines of Knapdale in mid-Argyll are draped

in a mosaic of small plants, the variety of which is
seldom matched anywhere else in the world.
Rocks, trees and branches, crags and old damp logs are
covered by a collage of greens, browns, reds and yellows.
These so-called lower plants are mosses, liverworts and
Now you have the chance to experience these normally
unreachable surroundings on a remarkable gorge walk up
the Dunardry Burn in Knapdale. The Near to Nature Trail
showcases the special plants that live there and gives you a
chance to experience biodiversity close-up, from treetop to
gorge bottom.
The rst VIPs to try out the new trail were P4 pupils
of Lochgilphead Primary School, who experienced this
spectacular world of woods, steep rocks, waterfalls and
noisy, rushing water.
On a beautiful day, with the sun piercing the woodland
canopy, the children learnt about some of the unique plants
that live there. They wrote about their experiences in poetry,
excerpts of which weve quoted here.
The trail runs across the steep sides of the gorge and
crosses the burn on a series of platforms, walkways and
bridges close to waterfalls and cascades. Hearing other
people speak above the noise of the water at these points is
difcult, but provides a chance to observe and reect on this
special place.
The climate in these ravines is what makes the plants
here so special, explained Stan Phillips, an area ofcer with

Waterfalls crashing on
the rocks.
Steps as high as long grass.
Emma Smyth

At the rst bridge Kieran

dropped his pencil,
funnily enough.
Who knows where it went.
Calum Dylan MacDonald

Hands-on experience.
Alongside the
Dunardry Burn.


It is dark and calm.

Trees covered in
moss and lichen.
Lauren Kalache

Kids only!

;=6;-6;1<1>Have fun making amazing images using

sun-sensitive paper. You can buy the
paper from craft shops or on the internet.
First, go outside and nd things that will
make really unusual patterns. Look for
leaves, cones, feathers and twigs the
possibilities are endless.
Place your objects on to a sheet of
sun-sensitive paper and leave it in
direct sunlight for the time given in the
instructions (usually 12 minutes). Then
place the paper in a tub of water now
watch your creation appear before your
eyes. Remove it, and lay at to dry.


You will need: One paper bag per player,
and one list of natural objects to collect per
How to play: Give each player a paper bag
and a list of natural objects (a birds feather,
a leaf, a smooth rock, a pine cone, a wild
ower and so on) to collect. You can give
the same list to all players or have each
player look for a different group of objects.
Challenge the players to nd all the objects
on their lists. Set a time limit: maybe 20
minutes to nd 10 objects. The rst player
to nd all 10 objects is the winner. (You can
also play this game on your own if you get
someone else to make up a list for you.)


You will need: an oversized T-shirt, scraps of fabric, scissors, fabric glue, cardboard,
a piece of elastic and paint.
The body: rstly, cut the fabric into fairly large feather shapes youll need lots! Cut off the
sleeves and then spread the T-shirt out. Starting at the bottom, glue the feathers along
the bottom edge of the T-shirt. Start a second row a bit further up so as not to cover the
bottom row. Place the rst feather in-between two of the feathers on the bottom row
(to give a more realistic feather pattern). Keep going until the T-shirt is completely covered
with the fabric feathers. You can wear the costume with a long-sleeved top and leggings/
tights. Try wearing gloves over your shoes to act as feet.
The mask: draw out your mask on the cardboard, cut around your shape and then cut out the eyes.
Paint the mask with your chosen colours. Make small holes in each side of the mask and thread the
58elastic through, tying a knot in each end.


The Nature of Scotland

natural dyes

A garden or hedgerow in autumn is host to a riot of brilliant colour. Pick berries and leaves and use them to create
natural dyes. Here is a fun activity for a rainy day, but you will need adult help as it does involve very hot water. Have a look at
the recipes below to see which dye colour each raw material will give and then get yourself outside and see what plants and
berries you can find.
You will need: rubber gloves, muslin cloth, some fabric, for example a cotton T-shirt, tote-bag or teatowel, hot plate, two
deep pans, a wooden spoon, alum (available from the chemist or internet), string and a range of plant materials/berries that
you have collected.

You must prepare

the fabric before
adding to any of the
dye baths!
While your dye bath is simmering,
you should get your fabric ready to be
dyed. Use the second pan, add 9 litres of
lukewarm water and 80g of alum. Stir with
wooden spoon until completely dissolved.
(If you have a small piece of fabric you
could use 4.5 litres of water and 40g of alum.) The alum mixture is what
will make your fabric hold its colour. Submerge your fabric in the alum
mixture and then boil for 20 minutes.
Carefully remove your fabric from the alum mixture, wring out the fabric
and then immediately immerse in the dye bath. Use the wooden spoon
to make sure that the fabric is totally immersed for at least 20 minutes,
stirring regularly. Remove fabric from dye bath, wring out and let it air
dry. Discard all remaining dye bath when you have finished.

74873_magazine9.indd 59

Dye bath recipes...

Yellow: wrap 450g of goldenrod flower
stems in muslin and tie with string. Submerge
into at least 4 litres of water and simmer for
1 hour. Then carefully wring out the bundle
above the pot. Add more hot water to the dye
bath to take it up to 9 litres of liquid.
Purple/lavender: follow method above,
using 450g of blackberries, blueberries or
elderberries and simmering them for half an
Pink/red: follow method above using 450g
of strawberries, raspberries or tomatoes and
simmering them for half an hour.
Brown: coffee grounds and tea bags will
dissolve directly in the water, and dont need
to be wrapped in cheese cloth. Simmer for
half an hour.
Green: soak 680g of rhododendron leaves
overnight (approx 10 hrs). Secure the leaves
in a muslin cloth and boil for 1 hour. Add
enough hot water to make 9 litres of dye bath.

08/09/2010 21:19

Of birds and trolls

One of Scotlands most unusual seabird
colonies has survived for over a thousand
years on the island of Rum in the Small
Isles. Andy Douse of SNHs species
group describes the life story of these
remarkable birds


The Nature of Scotland

A raft of Manx
shearwaters on the
sea with the island of
Rum behind. The birds
feed on various
common small sh,
including herring,
sardine and sand eel.


Ramble over the mountains of Rum National Nature Reserve in

summer and youll nd little sign of birdlife other than the occasional
song of a wheatear or the sight of a soaring golden eagle.
But under your feet, and largely silent during the day, lies one of Scotlands
largest seabird colonies. Take a walk on those same hilltops at night and youll
nd the air is lled with the eerie calls of the Manx shearwater.
Around you, ghostly shapes materialise out of the gloom, occasionally landing
on the ground with all the grace of a lump of lead. This is when the colony comes
to life, revealing itself as one of the jewels in the crown of Scottish seabird
Manx shearwaters have been on Rum for over a thousand years, and probably
much longer. One of the mountains, Trollval, is generally assumed to be named

after these nocturnal residents. The

belief is that the islands early Norse
inhabitants were possibly unfamiliar
with the birds contact calls and
therefore associated the mountain with
the fearsome trolls of Norse mythology.
Whatever the origin of the name, the
colony at night broadcasts its presence
with the calls of returning birds. Their
calls alert the other shearwaters that
have spent hours, and possibly days,
closeted in a burrow that may be as
long as two or three metres. And the
noise has stirred the imaginations
of sailors down the centuries, who
described it as: terrible a yelling that it is heard
at an incredible distance. They tell you
that houses even shake with it; and
that, not only mankind, but all the brute
creation within hearing, tremble at the
Indeed, any casual search of
old accounts demonstrates that the
reputation of shearwaters is far from
benign. Writers believed the birds were
inhabited by damned souls, and others
called them devil birds.

Burrow time
For much of the year, the hills are silent
at night as well as day. Its only in May
that birds return to the colony and start
to clean out the burrow in which they
may have bred in previous years. The
burrow entrances are easily spotted,
and occupied burrows may have telltale signs such as fresh droppings
or recently excavated earth at the
Birds pair up and within days the
single white egg is laid at the end of the
burrow chamber. After about 50 days,
during which the egg is incubated by
both parents, the single grey downy
chick hatches. Its then fed by both
parents on sh and other prey items
caught in feeding trips that may last
several days. The chick remains in the
burrow for about 6276 days. They put
on weight and get fatter, to the point
where they may be heavier than adult
Its at this point that the adults
leave the chick. It continues to grow its
familiar black and white plumage before


it emerges from the burrow and takes

its rst ight. This is always at night
and propels the bird into a landscape
populated with predators and other
dangers. Manx shearwaters are
favourite prey items for eagles and large
gulls on Rum. If they manage to avoid
being eaten, there are other hazards
awaiting them.
In parts of their range, people have
considered Manx shearwater chicks an
important food supply, as the following
rhyme from the Faroe Isles indicates.
It was sung while gathering the chicks
from their burrows:

Around 60,000 pairs
(23% of the world
population) breed on
Rum and each one
produces a single
chick. The colony is
spread out over the
island's mountain tops
and is the only one
known to breed so high
The long, straight
wings of Manx
shearwaters are
perfect for long glides
at sea where they can
be seen banking or
'shearing' over the

Inside you lie Manx shearwater chick

grey in down.
Often we talk about you
at home in the courtyard.
We have come to take
and not to buy.
You must not leap
away from us into the nook.
For reasons that arent clear, Manx
shearwater chicks are strongly attracted
to lights. Its perhaps a reection of
the fact that as they grow, the only
light they see (and which they must
move towards) is at the entrance to the
burrow. For Rum birds this means that
many come ashore in late August and
September in the nearby mainland town
of Mallaig. Hundreds of birds have been
found there, before being ringed and
released back to sea.

The Nature of Scotland

Incredible journeys

Once at sea, both adults and juveniles

set out on one of the most incredible
migratory journeys in the animal
kingdom. They y south across the
Atlantic and down the coast of South
America, reaching as far south as the
Falkland Islands. They then return up
the coast of Africa and back across
the Atlantic in a migratory pathway that
resembles a gure of eight. They cover
a distance of over 22,000 km.
Much of the detail has been long
known from ringing recoveries. But
recent developments have allowed
researchers to attach small electronic
devices known as geolocators to
the shearwaters. These identify and
record the birds position at regular
intervals. The details revealed have
begun to shed light on the precise
timing and pattern of their movements.
Immature Manx shearwaters will
wander the oceans for a number of
years until they return to a breeding
colony (not necessarily where they
were born). This is usually after about
four to six years. The return by young
birds can be seen on Rum in midsummer, when theres an increase in
burrow occupancy as young birds start
to look for a breeding burrow. Once
theyre paired up, Manx shearwaters
may live for up to 50 years. Pairs tend
to stay together, although the death of
a partner may require birds to seek new
partners at times.
The Manx shearwater is one of
Scotlands most common but most
mysterious seabirds, and theres still
much to learn. Rum is their Scottish
stronghold, and a night-time trip to
the colony will leave any visitor with
lasting memories. Safe to say, though,
that your memories are likely to be a
little less alarming than those of Rums
earliest visitors!



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The Nature of Scotland
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The Nature of Scotland

74873_cover.indd 2

07/09/2010 12:24

Scottish Natural Heritage

Autumn 2010

The Nature of Scotland

Scotlands seas
Highlighting what needs
protecting in our waters

Ocean traveller
The bird that travels over
20,000 km to breed

In the picture
Stunning images from this
years Nature Photography Fair

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07/09/2010 12:24