Wednesday 26 June 2013

Wild Scotland: spaces for nature

A brilliant short video produced by 2020 Vision that we came across and couldn't resist sharing with you. The video encourages and explores the idea that nature needs our help and we need it. The video gives a special mention to several places and projects going on across Scotland and in the Cairngorms National Park too. Make your own wee space for nature - sit back, relax and enjoy it!

Wild Scotland from 2020VISION on Vimeo.

Thanks to @CameronMcNeish for sharing!

Monday 24 June 2013

New Atholl Walking Trails

The ranger service has been hard at work installing new set of waymarked trails around Blair Atholl and the surrounding area. The way markers are now all in place for visitors and locals alike to explore the trails but the work wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of volunteers and input from the Cairngorms National Park Authority and local Tourism Association.

Three of the trails start from the Blair Atholl Information Centre, located on the main road beside the River Tilt, and two more begin from Struan, to the north. A sixth trail uses the existing trails around the Falls of Bruar, starting from the House of Bruar.

Copies of the accompanying Atholl Trails booklet, guiding you around the walks, are available in the Blair Atholl Information CentreYou can view a printable version of the Atholl Trails booklet, guiding you around the new walks printed copies are available in the Blair Atholl Information Centre. You can also view a printable version of our own Waymarked Trails from Blair Atholl online.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Waymarked Trails on Atholl Estates

Click on the pictures of the trails booklets below to view printable online versions of the publications.

Waymarked Trails from Blair Atholl (published by Atholl Estates)

Atholl Trails (published by the Cairngorms National Park Authority)

Countryside Trails Dunkeld (published by Atholl Estates):

Cycle Routes from Blair Atholl
(published by Atholl Estates)

This booklet is not currently available as an online document but several 
downloadable route cards are available by following the links below:

Saturday 22 June 2013

A Day for Dwarf Shrubs

The rhododendron is in full flower in the Castle grounds and looking quite magnificent. However, the common rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) is not always so welcome out in the wider countryside where it can spread through woodland swamping other vegeatation completely until there is nothing left but the rhododendron. It looks good at this time of the year, but it's not a good wildlife habitat at all.

But there are other native shrubs that are flowering just now. They are a lot smaller than rhododendron, but they don't take over, and provide much more for our birds and animals.

Here are the flowers of cowberry, an evergreen shrub of woodland and moorland, and blaeberry (or bilberry in England), which is deciduous. Both of these flowers will eventually turn to fruit. We know and love the blaeberry, but so do many other creatures - lots of birds and some mammals including pine martens and badgers. The cowberry has a red berry which is not so tasty to us (though not poisonous), but still important for other creatures.

Round ball-shaped flowers of the blaeberry
 In addition the bushes provide food for many insects, which then provide food for birds, especially chicks which need protein to develop. The capercaillie feeds its chicks on caterpillars from blaeberry bushes
These shrubs also provide great shelter, particularly for ground-nesting birds.

Bell-shaped flowers of the cowberry

Friday 7 June 2013

Bambi and Other Babies

Spring has definitely arrived at last and the grounds of Blair Castle are teeming with new life. An oystercatcher has laid eggs in the car park (don't worry, we've roped it off so they don't get squashed!) and another oystercatcher has chicks running aound near hercules Garden. The resident swans in the garden are also busy on their nest, and are pretty unwelcoming if you get too close.

You need to look carefully! Not the best shot but after this it went inside the tree fence and was even harder to see!
Two red deer calves have also just been born in the deer park. They look gorgeous with their spotty coats which are for camouflage. The mother also cleans their rear end assiduously so that they don't give off any scent to attract predators when they are left alone on the hill. She leaves her calf while she feeds and returns to it later .Calves usually appear earlier in the park than in the wild because the deer here have an easier life and are better fed. Wild calves are usually born in June though it may be a little later this year. If you visit and notice that the magnificent stag is missing, don't worry. He has gone to a new home and will be replaced with a different stag so that there is some fresh blood / genes - we don't want the deer to get too in-bred.