Our resident red deer stag has finally shed all the velvet off his antlers now that it is getting close to the rutting season. The velvet supplies oxygen and nutrients to the antler to help it grow and since the antler is the fastest growing mammal bone it needs a lot of nutrients. Once it has reached its full size the velvet is no longer required so it dies and falls off leaving the dead bone. This also means that there are no longer nerves around the antlers so the stags can use them for displays and fights in order to get mates. We have had the same resident stag here at the castle for quite a few years now and he is getting quite old which you can tell from the size of his antlers. You cannot actually tell the age of a stag but counting the number of points on its antlers as size is also determined by the deer’s nutrition and health due to the vast nutrient requirements needed in growing antlers.
The rut itself will start at the end of September and will last until about November at which point the stags will be competing with each other for mates and guarding groups of females called a harem. During this time males will size each other up to assess dominance and will challenge a harem holder by roaring repeatedly for up to 20 minutes. If the stag is out roared he will back down but if there is no clear winner then it will lead onto a battle to determine the dominant male. When this happens the males will walk in parallel with each other until one lowers its head inviting the other to charge. They will fight and push each other until one submits and the winner will gain the breeding rights until challenged again. This can often lead to injuries and fatalities and in some cases their antlers can become locked together and then both will starve to death as they cannot feed or drink like this. Our resident male has a whole harem to himself so will not have to worry about competing to breed but in the hills you should be able to hear the stags roaring at each other in the following month but don’t get too close as they can be very dangerous during this time.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
The wet weather we have been having this summer has been very helpful for the salmon as their journey upstream to breed has been made a lot easier with the higher water levels. The salmon can be seen jumping on the River Tilt as they make their way back to the stream in which they were born. It is still uncertain how the salmon manage to navigate back to their natal site and many suggestions have been made including rivers having certain smells which the salmon use to find their way back or that they are able to detect the earth’s magnetic fields and use that as a guide. After they breed the salmon will die leaving their offspring to fend for themselves and start the cycle again.
On Sunday the 28th August we also have a fungi course for beginners where you can come along and learn the basics about fungi and how to identify them. There really is a lot more to fungi than meets the eye so come along and learn about this very interesting kingdom. The following week (4th Sept) we have a more advanced fungi event where you can come out and improve your knowledge of fungi with our expert. These both start at 2 pm at Glen Tilt car park and cost £2 and £4 respectively per person.
Posted by Atholl Estates Ranger Service at 15:15
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
The heavy rain during today and last night has mean that we have had to cancel our Gala night which was due to take place in Blair Atholl tonight. We will hopefully be rescheduling for later on in the year so keep posted for information.
Up on the Glen Banvie trail near Ruichlachrie a male merlin was spotted resting on a rock whilst out on a landrover tour. The merlin is the smallest bird of prey which inhabits the UK. They feed mainly on small birds but also on large moths and small mammals. At Glen Banvie it would probably be feeding mainly on wheatears and meadow pipets. They have fast flight in order to catch their prey and will sometimes even use vegetation to take them by surprise. So keep your eyes open whilst up the glens because you could spot the smallest bird of prey, the merlin, or even the largest bird prey in the UK, the sea eagle (also called the white tailed eagle) if you are really lucky.
|Sea Eagle in flight|
Posted by Atholl Estates Ranger Service at 15:11
Friday, 5 August 2011
The stalking season has started again and will run until October 20th so to help minimise disturbance we have our hillphone service in place. This allows walkers to call and get information about where stalks are taking place and advice about alternative routes in the area. The hillphone service is updated daily and information about stalking can be found on the notice board at the Glen Tilt car park, by calling 01796 481740 or online at www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/hftsh then following the links. Please avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place to avoid disturbance to stalks.
You may have noticed while you have been out and about that there are quite a few purple coloured droppings lying about from many different animals. This is because the blaeberry is fruiting and the fruits are eaten by many different species of birds and animals. Ptarmigan, black and red grouse particularly rely on blaeberry foliage as a food source. In the Caladonian forest insects eat more blaeberry than any other understory plant and these insects are particularly important for capercaillie chicks in their first few weeks of their life.
|Stinkhorn ©Peter A Ferns|
Posted by Atholl Estates Ranger Service at 10:15