Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Last Chance - Make Your Vote Count for Nature!

Caledonian Pine woodland
Image: RSPB

Today is the last day of voting to award €20,000 (£17,000) of funding to a European wildlife project. All of the projects nominated are excellent and details can be found here

The RSPB have a reserve at Abernethy Forest, near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park that is up for the funding, which could be vital to the success of their project to restore Caledonian pine woodland from fragmentary, to continuous habitat.

But they need your votes to get the money! So please read the letter (quoted below) from the RSPBs Abernethy Forest, site manager and then head over to or TGO Magazine to cast your vote!

Please vote for Abernethy

We are delighted to announce that our project to re-connect Abernethy forest with neighbouring Glenmore has been shortlisted by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) for a potential award of nearly 20,000 Euros.
This project will be an exciting step towards restoring Scotland’s magnificent Caledonian forest - but we need your vote if we are to be successful in securing the funds!
Please click here, to vote for our project “Restoring Scotland’s Caledonian Forest”.
We will need thousands of votes, so please do share this link with your family and friends!
This area is now the capercaillie’s final remaining stronghold in the UK. The expansion and re-connection of individual forests, such as the two forests of Abernethy and Glenmore, is crucial to provide the extensive habitat these birds require.
We hope to plant 30,000 trees in this area over two years, to create a huge wildlife corridor – set to benefit an array of incredible woodland wildlife. There will also be new interpretation at nearby Ryvoan bothy to describe our vision for the forest and the species which depend on it.
Voting ends on 28 March, with the winning project announced shortly thereafter.
Thank you for your support.
Jeremy Roberts 
Senior Site Manager
Abernethy Forest


If you have problems voting the above link you can also vote through the TGO magazine website.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Opening Ceremony - Blair Atholl Information Centre

Today was the official opening ceremony for the newly refurbished Blair Atholl Information Centre. John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable  and MSP for Perthshire North, came to cut the ribbon. There were also members of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Perth and Kinross Council, Atholl Estates and the Blair Atholl Area Tourism Association, as well as representatives from local businesses, all present.

School children from Blair Atholl School came along too.They took part in some activities inside the Centre and were involved in a key role in the ribbon-cutting ceremony - holding the ribbon!

Most importantly there was a fantastic cake, supplied by the thoughtful staff at the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Today was a double celebration, not just opening our new Information Centre, but also that this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of the Cairngorms National Park. After thorough testing, everyone seemed keen to agree that it was very tasty!

The Cake! Kindly supplied by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, marking
the opening of the Information Centre and 10th Anniversary of the National Park
Many thanks to everyone who came out to make today special. Perhaps also, even bigger thanks to everyone who has been involved 'behind the scenes' to enable this great new facility transition from idle daydream to happy reality.

If you're passing near Blair Atholl, call in for a peek around, and perhaps a chat with one of the Rangers on duty!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Litter Pick Postponed

The Blair Atholl Community Litter Pick that was scheduled for today at 10 am has been postponed due to the weather. There's just enough snow lying on the ground to cover up the litter.

The litter pick has been moved back to next week
 Wednesday 27th March at 10am

Last year's litter pick: bright, sunny and warm... not like today!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Information Centre: Grand Opening Friday

The Blair Atholl Information Centre, operated by the Ranger Service, is getting it's 'Grand Opening' this Friday, 22nd March. The centre has been in use since completion of the refurbishment work carried out last summer but now that the car park and external facilities have been finished, it's time to celebrate the fact and prepare for the coming season. The 'ceremony' should be quite fun and as well as local dignitaries and MP's coming along, the local school children and other members of the community will be coming too.

If you come along on the day -or if you're just passing through- call in and have a look around. You can leave us a message in the visitor book to let us know how your visit went. We'd love to hear your stories and any comments or suggestions you might have.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Cally Car Park: Track Resurfaced

The track at the entrance to Cally Car Park, north of Dunkeld, has been resurfaced. This is a welcome improvement because the track was getting very potholed and getting your car (or Ranger van!) into the car park was a bumpy and unsettling experience.

Resurfaced entrance track to Cally Car Park, by Dunkeld
Resurfaced entrance track to Cally Car Park, by Dunkeld
It has taken some time for this work to be carried out as there was some difficulty in ascertaining who had 'ownership' of the task of maintenence - the car park was established and is operated through a continuing collaboration between Atholl Estates and Perth & Kinross Council (PKC). It had been understood by the Ranger Service that PKC had jurisdiction for maintaining the track because of public access but, as it turns out from chasing a long paper trail, Atholl Estates is in fact the responsible party. After this had been determined it was only a matter of waiting for a window of reasonable weather in which to carry out the work... possibly the hardest part of the whole process...!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Thinking of Winter Sunshine

The outlook for today and the next while may be dull and grey today but Beinn A' Ghlo was looking rather splendid in the sunshine on Monday last week as we carried out our monthly wetland bird survey for the BTO. Considering that over three quarters of the water surface was covered in ice, it was fairly busy out on Loch Moraig: lots of Mallard and Goldeneye, several Tufted Ducks, a small flock of Whooper Swans and a Grey Herron standing still and fishing from the banks.

Beinn A' Ghlo looking good, snow capped in the sunshine

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Cairngorms Ranger Gathering 2013

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week we were at the Cairngorms National Park Ranger Gathering. This annual event run by the National Park Authority is a great opportunity for all of the rangers in the National Park to get together and share our ideas and experience and be updated on news and projects happening within the park. All the ranger services in the National Park are operated by individual organisations, rather than being employed directly by the Park Authority, so this is a really valuable way for us to learn more about what each other do and to forge better links to work together as a team. Hopefully everyone came away feeling inspired and full of enthusiasm to pass on to the public.

Thank you to all the National Park Authority staff who organised the gathering, both up-front and behind the scenes, and also to the speakers and workshop leaders who attended.

Don't forget to keep an eye out for a ranger and say hello next time you visit the Cairngorms!

Some of the Cairngorms Rangers making their way to the top of a snowy
Meall a' Bhuachaille. You can make out the Cairngorm plateau in the distance.
It wasn't all getting out and visiting sites though, there were plenty of presentations
and serious discussion too - they just don't make such good photos!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Winter Scenes

The Dunkeld end of the estate and area around Loch Ordie was looking very wintry yesterday. It was a very changeable day: bright sunshine one moment, followed by grey, snow laden skies the next, with very little warning of the transition in between. This made the planned work of counting water birds for the BTO's Wetland Bird Survey (which we have mentioned before) slightly more difficult than ususal. It also meant that the photograph of a cormorant on Rotmell Loch contained more snow than feathers, even though the bird was only a short distance away - so there are no bird pictures below, unfortunately. Instead you can see some scenes of snow and sunshine.

This 'ice plant' has been formed by the water from wind-driven
waves on Loch Ordie soaking the rushes and freezing, over
and over, until the whole plant became encased in ice.
One of the brighter moments of the day, Looking west from the
main track up to Loch Ordie
Land Rover with the bleak grey-white sky behind,
 in the middle of a flash 'blizzard'
...And a view from inside the vehicle (it was stopped when this was taken!)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bats in the Daytime: Part II

A quick update following on from the previous post:

It turns out that someone did get a photograph of the bat that we saw enjoying a spot of daytime flying, it just took a bit of time finding the bat in the picture as it came out so small and blurry due to the speed at which it was flying. With a little bit of digital 'magic' you can see how the bat's features emerge from the initial blurred photo. Although perhaps still not good enough to make a decisive identification of the species, it being a Pipistrelle is still a pretty safe bet. Thanks to my Dad for passing on the photo (and double checking for bats in the first place!).

Click on the images for a larger view

Close-up crop of  the original photo. A bit blurry but you can easily see
the 'bat' shape. (click on the pictures to enlarge) Image: E.Gilhooley
'Tweaked' version of the original. Still blurred but the wing
outline is much clearer. Image: E.Gilhooley

Black and white version of the image, zoomed in and sharpened up . The overall shape is clear and
even facial features begin to emerge. Not bad from a slightly blurry original photo. Image: E.Gilhooley