Category Archives: Feature

Red Kite Reintroduction Flying High At Argaty

Spent yesterday afternoon at the Argaty Red Kite hide and would highly recommend a visit to Central Scotland’s only feeding station for these impressive raptors. Situated on a working farm, it’s a great example of wildlife conservation and farming coexisting and providing a valuable source of tourism revenue to the local economy.  Between 1989 and 2009, RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage conducted an ambitious reintroduction project for this severely persecuted species, having become extinct in Scotland as a breeding bird during the late 19th Century following their once widespread population becoming decimated by sporting estates, egg collectors and taxidermy. With their help, Lerrocks Farm continues to play a vital role in their revival, through supplementary feeding and education. Continue reading Red Kite Reintroduction Flying High At Argaty

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The Wildlife Of Mull

Common Buzzard

I recently spent a very enjoyable week wildlife-spotting on the Isle of Mull, just off the west coast of Scotland.  The island’s biodiversity is excellent, primarily due to the wide variety of habitats on offer. Oak woods, coniferous forest, moorland, marshland, sandy beaches, sea lochs, machair, hill lochans, streams and rivers, mountains, estuaries and around 300 miles of coastline: Mull has it all.  And the seas that surround the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides are arguably even more species-rich, with an abundance of fish, crustaceans and other marine life.

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Scotland: The Big Picture

I was recently asked to join the SCOTLAND: THE BIG PICTURE team as a Contributing Writer and subsequently appeared in their introductory film above. As Scotland begins its rewilding journey, STBP exists as a multimedia hub combining ecological science with compelling narratives and the finest imagery to tell inspiring stories that amplify the case for a wilder Scotland.

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Delving into De-extinction

Should we resurrect extinct species? If we have the animal’s DNA and the means to reproduce it, is the creature truly extinct? It’s a contentious field of research that’s still in its infancy, but it’s no longer science fiction – its potential is a reality thanks to ground-breaking developments in genetic technology. Conservationists, ecologists and the wider scientific community remain divided on the issue.

Those for it see it as a vital lifeline for critically endangered species, such as the Northern White Rhino. It could boost biodiversity, help restore diminished ecosystems and most profoundly, bring back species that were once thought lost forever. Those against the idea view it as a distraction from conventional conservation practices that could dilute the focus to protect existing species. Why conserve when you can ultimately bring back? Continue reading Delving into De-extinction

Rewilding Lessons In Risnjak

Having recently returned from a nature-orientated trip to Croatia, the subject of rewilding, and in particular, the proposed Lynx reintroduction here in the UK, has been on my mind. The highlight was a day spent exploring the magnificent – and truly wild – Risnjak National Park. Apart from being a prime example of a thriving forest ecosystem brimming with biodiversity, it was also the setting for Croatia’s own Eurasian Lynx resurgence, originating from the release of six animals from Slovakia into Slovenia in 1973.

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How To Take Better Wildlife Photos

Song Thrush

I thought it was about time I compiled some hints and tips for taking that perfect wildlife shot, having spent many years trying to do just that, albeit just as an enthusiastic amateur.  So here are some points to consider the next time you venture out.  Much of it will also apply to wildlife spotting best practice too.

  • Maximise your chances of seeing something by going out at dawn and dusk.  Obviously not applicable to all countries, but particularly relevant in Britain, where so much of the fauna is nocturnal or crepuscular.
  • Familiarise yourself with all of your camera’s settings.
  • Think about the wind direction and avoid wearing strong smelling fragrances.

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The Resurgence of the European Bison

Back in 1927, Europe’s largest land animal became extinct in the wild following centuries of habitat loss and overhunting.  A dozen individuals in captivity were subsequently bred across five zoos in the hope that one day, a viable population could be re-established.  Now in 2015, there are over 5500 Wisent – to use their correct European name – of which more than 2700 are in truly wild, free-ranging herds.  The magnificently primeval Bialowieza Forest which stretches across the border between Poland and Belarus, is once again a stronghold for them – having been home to 11 of the 12 Wisent removed during the early 20th Century to save the entire species.

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Garden Rewilding

General June 2015 225

There’s been a lot of talk recently in Britain about grand plans for ‘ecological restoration’.  But what about rewilding on a smaller scale?  At a time when our garden wildlife is suffering from the effects of overly manicured lawns, pesticide-laden vegetation and a general lack of habitat connectivity, there’s never been a better time to inject some much needed wildness into your garden.  Here are some suggestions on how to go about it and some information on the species that could benefit as a result. Continue reading Garden Rewilding

Rediscovered Animals of the 21st Century

We often hear about species new to science and those now believed to be extinct, but what about the creatures that sit precariously between these two states; where have they most recently been found and just how many have been uncovered again in just the last 15 years?  I found 88 species in total that have been rediscovered since the beginning of the new millennium, spread across 43 countries.  Ten of those, such as the Pygmy Tarsier, inhabit Indonesia.  Seven are endemic to Colombia – mostly birds and frogs; and six species were found in Australia.

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Wildlife Sightings in Scotland 2014/15

Almost a year has passed since I posted the results of my Scottish wildlife sightings between 2011 and 2014, so I thought it was about time I provided you with some fresh data.  As you would expect, there have been no seismic shifts in the general fauna seen, however, the composition has certainly altered.  The sightings recorded are of wildlife that I’ve deemed to be noteworthy and does not include common garden birds or any other ubiquitous animals.  It’s by no means scientific, and merely serves to reflect the uncommon wildlife profile of my local area in the Scottish Borders.  Here’s the top 10….

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