Friday 31 August 2012

Dragonfly Sightings needed

If you are lucky enough to be out on the estate on a sunny day, then keep an eye out for dragonflies and damselflies. The rarity of sunshine this summer has made them tricky to spot. Dragonflies are wonderful to watch, but are mostly quite easy to identify too, as there are not too many species in Scotland, though beware, the blue damselflies can be tricky!

Common hawker seen near the River Tilt.
It's large, black, blue and green and a very strong flier.

Black darter seen at Polney Loch
- Our smallest dragonfly, it emerges late so commonly seen in August / September

The British Dragonfly Society are producing a new dragonfly atlas for Britain. A new atlas is needed because climate change is affecting the range and emergence time of different dragonflies and some new species for Britain have also been recently recorded. Sightings in this area are generally low, so distribution data is quite poor. For more information on the areas most in need of new records visit . If you are confident in your identification, then send your sighting to the BDS - this is the last year to submit sightings before the production of the atlas next year.

If you get very keen you can go pond dipping to get the nymphs too. This doesn't need the sunshine and can get quite addictive (and quite muddy!). All dragonflies spend far more time as nymphs in the water than they do as adults. The nymphs can be identified to species level as well but it is tricky compared to the adults.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Junior Rangers

The Cairngorms National Park rangers run Junior Ranger groups for teenagers who want to help out with wildlife and conservation. Last week a group from the Bayerwischer Wald National Park in Germany joined some of our Scottish Junior Rangers for a week of fun and helping out in the northern Cairngorms. We helped out with the group on their final day.

Many of the Scottish youngsters went to the Bayerischer Wald last year for a visit. This year other Cairngorms Junior Rangers have been on a visit to Slovenia for a week.

We hope to set a Junior Ranger group for interested teenagers in Highland Perthshire soon.

Monday 6 August 2012

Stalking Season - Hillphones & Heading for the Scottish Hills

The red deer stag season is open from 01.08.2012 until the 20.10.2012. To help hill walkers and other outdoor recreational users plan their visit and practice responsible access to the Scottish countryside, we will once again be providing information about where and when stalking is taking place.

The information provided by Atholl Estate Ranger Service covers the Atholl and Lude Estates, incorporating the Munros of Beinn Dearg, Carn a' Chlamain, Beinn A' Ghlo and the south sides of An Sgarsoch and Carn Ealar as well as the Corbetts Ben Mheadhonach and Ben Vuirich.

Details are available online from the Heading for the Scottish Hills website where you can find up to date information about the deer stalking taking place on all of the areas that are involved in the pilot scheme, now entering its third year. There is also a Hillphones service available on 01796 481 740 where you will find a recorded voice message detailing the areas where deer stalking will be taking place. 

Lastly, information is also available from notice boards at the Glen Tilt Car Park and inside the newly refurbished Blair Atholl Information Centre & Ranger Base in Blair Atholl.  Using these services should enable you to plan your visit to avoid routes that may disturb deer stalking whilst still fulfilling your goals.  .

Screenshot of the Heading for the Scottish Hills website

We appreciate that most people like to plan their visits in advance and will always endeavor to have as much information available as possible, it is often not possible for to determine where stalking will take place until a few days or the morning beforehand. Generally, longer range information will be made available on the website as we obtain it but please re-check this information through one of the information facilities closer to the time of your visit as changes may often be made.

Atholl Estates Ranger Service

Saturday 4 August 2012

My National Park Adventure Writing Competition

To help celebrate National Parks Week15 members of the UK's National Parks family and brand partner Merrell, outdoor gear specialist, are teaming up to launch the My National Park Adventure competition for young people. Would-be travel bloggers are being urged to write a piece of 500 words or less about their National Park adventures this summer.

Remember that adventure is what you make it! We want to see young people making the most of their National Parks - so check out the range of National Park events on our website and tell them about your adventures!

Aspiring litterateurs (that's a posh word for 'writer' – we had to look it up) can enter the competition via the UK National Parks website:

Entrants will need the permission of a parent or legal guardian.

There are two categories for entries: Authors of 11 years old and under / Authors aged 12-16 years old (inclusive). 

One winner will be chosen from each category, and he or she will walk away with brand new top-quality footwear provided by Merrell. So, get writing!

Stories must be submitted by 12 noon Friday, 7 September 2012, and must take place in one of the 15 Members of the UK National Park Family: Brecon Beacons, the Broads, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.

Full details of the competition, as well as terms and conditions, can be found at:

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Scouts' Jambourette 2012

The last two weeks have been a busy and bustling time for us. There have been about 2000 Scouts and Scout leaders staying in the Castle grounds for their biennial Jamborette and we got lots of them out and about, helping us with some tasks a bit too big for us to tackle on our own!
View of the Bair Castle and the Scout Camp

The Scouts did a great job of installing a new bike rack in the Glen Tilt car park - so now  there's somewhere to securely lock your bike up if you cycle up for a picnic or a stroll.

They also refurbished one of the flights of steps along the riverbanks trail, beside the caravan park.

We took several groups up Glen Tilt to thin out a stand of birch trees that has been becoming too thickly overgrown. Their hard work will help the trees by opening up the canopy, letting in more light and allowing them to grow larger and stronger. Opening up the canopy and letting in more light will also help the plans and shrubs that make up the woodland undergrowth, making it a more diverse mosaic - and better for herbivores too!
Close up of the Camp - lots of tents!

There was plenty of hard work too from the groups that we took out to Calvine to do a bit of repair work to a section of the historical, "Wade's Road," an old military route that was built to improve the access for British troops to the Highlands. Large sections of the track had been becoming waterlogged because of inadequate drainage so we set to work with picks and shovels and no small amount of hard graft to put in cross drains and drainage ditches. The result was a noticeable difference to the state of the track after much of the running water had been diverted away.

Deciding where to put a cross-drain to drain standing water from Wade's Road

All of the Scouts that we had out with us on tasks were brilliant this year, they worked really hard and were a credit to their leaders and their home troops. It was also quite exciting for us to meet some scouts from pretty far-flung places such as Norway, Canada, Japan and Russia. The "Austrian" scouts from Aberdeen were also very entertaining (and convincing!).

See you again in two years time!