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.
The RSPB Scotland report highlights the plight of 779 birds of prey illegally killed in Scotland between 1994 and 2014. Of this, 468 were found to be poisoned, 173 were shot and 76 perished in illegal traps. The deaths included 104 Red Kites, 37 Golden Eagles, 30 Hen Harriers, 16 Goshawks and 10 White-tailed Eagles. These figures reflect only verified cases involving a criminal element and so the true figure of birds of prey affected during this period will be considerably higher, with a further 305 credible incidents reported involving similiar methods of trapping; or the presence of toxic bait. Continue reading Twenty Years Of Raptor Persecution Detailed In New RSPB Report
As a vocal supporter of the rewilding ethos, I was eager to visit the Carrifran Wildwood in the Southern Uplands of Scotland, to see how this ecological restoration project is developing since its inception in 2000. In ecological terms it’s an initiative that’s still in its infancy, however, it began long before the term rewilding entered the public domain. On the project’s website, ecological restoration has been defined as: ‘the repair of natural environments degraded by human activity’, with its main aim being to restore and optimise biodiversity. From what I saw during my brief exploration there, the site is well on its way to achieving this and already looks and feels truly wild. Continue reading Carrifran Wildwood
Yesterday we decided to climb Tinto hill, which rises to be the highest point in Central Scotland at 2,333 feet. It wasn’t supposed to be a wildlife-orientated trip, although the area does have a good variety of bird species, such as Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse, Buzzard, Lapwing, Curlew, Skylark, Snipe, Kestrel and rare sightings of Hen Harrier and Merlin. No, instead it was part of a fitness drive to prepare my other half for bagging her first Munro. However, we ended up having the most unexpected encounter with the world’s smallest carnivore. Continue reading Weasel in the Wilderness
Over the past fortnight, twelve Red Kite and four Buzzards have been found dead in a two-square mile area of Ross-shire in the northern highlands, jeopardising the reintroduced red kite population which has been under persecution since the project begun in 1989. At least six of the raptors were illegally poisoned. It is believed those responsible for the crimes are linked to the grouse moors in the region used for game shooting. The perception is that birds such as the red kite and buzzard compete with this enterprise by hunting the grouse; however, the reality is that small mammals such as voles, rabbits and mice make up the majority of their diet, along with carrion. Their propensity to eat carrion makes them easy targets for poisoning.