‘Lady’ Lays First Egg of Season

‘Lady’ the Loch Of The Lowes Osprey thought to be the UK’s oldest breeding female has laid her first egg of the season.

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 Scotland has renewed its call for landowners and their staff in some parts of Scotland to do more to protect raptors from being killed illegally.

Red kite
A poisoned red kite

Director Stuart Housden said “intolerance” had been shown to the birds in parts of the eastern and central Highlands and southern uplands.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said illegal killing was not tolerated.

The SGA added that landowners and employees had worked hard to reduce incidents of bird of prey abuse.

In the RSPB‘s newly-published report, The illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland in 2011, Mr Housden praised land managers’ efforts to conserve species of birds such as lapwing and capercaillie.

But he said birds of prey continued to be persecuted. Fewer raptors were found poisoned in Scotland in 2011 than recorded in the previous year’s RSPB report.

Tests confirmed 20 raptors, including a golden eagle, seven buzzards and four red kites, were poisoned in 2011.

In 2010, 29 birds were found killed in this way according to the RSPB.

But Mr Housden said potentially more birds were killed but not found. He said 2011’s toll still made for “depressing reading”.

As well as the poisonings, there were 16 incidents where birds were killed illegally by other means.

Buzzards were found dead in crow traps in Perthshire, a peregrine was shot near Ballater and a short-eared owl was shot in Strathdon, both in Aberdeenshire.

A goshawk nest near Peebles in the Borders was also recorded to have been shot at.

‘Highest ever’

In the report, Mr Housden said many landowners and their employees acted responsibly and helped in efforts to conserve species such as lapwing, corncrakes and capercaillie.

However, he added:

“The fact that the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland has continued is inescapable.

“What is also clear is that had it not been for the development of new satellite-based technology, some of these victims would never have been found.”

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said the figures in the RSPB report were similar to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture statistics, that were published in March and September this year.

He said 2011 had seen an increased number of investigations that had found fewer cases of abuse, but had instead uncovered deaths caused by birds colliding with power lines and vehicles.

Mr Hogg said:

“This is at a time when raptor numbers are, in many cases, the highest ever recorded and more and more people are losing increasing number of livestock to birds of prey, putting jobs and families at risk in a difficult time for the Scottish economy.

“Given that background, partners were rightly encouraged that the huge amount of work that has been done to educate and raise awareness, is working.”

He added:

“The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has an unequivocal stance against the abuse of birds of prey and will continue to work hard, as it has done, to keep bringing these figures down.”

Story by BBC Scotland

All About Beavers

With the great news that a beaver has taken up residence in the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes reserve, I thought I would post some information on these amazing creatures.

Beaver Bjornar canal building

Beaver facts

Did you know that beavers are Europe’s largest native rodent; that they can remain under water for up to 15 minutes at a time and are highly skilled water engineers?

Continue reading “All About Beavers”

Perthshire Loch Welcomes First Beaver In 200 Years

A Perthshire loch has become home to a beaver for the first time in about 200 years.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has been monitoring the animal at the Loch of the Lowes since it was first spotted in August.

It’s thought the beaver may be related to one of many beavers in the River Tay catchment that have escaped or were illegally released from captivity.

The animals became extinct in the UK towards the end of the 18th century.

The Trust, with the Tayside Beaver Study Group, has been observing the beaver at the loch since it first appeared during the summer.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the 1700s. The current wild beaver populations in Scotland either belong to the Government licensed Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale in Argyll, or are the descendants of escapees from private collections in Angus and Perthshire over the past decade.

Repopulation plans

SWT said it was pleased to be a part of the Tayside Beaver Study Group and that they were keen to be involved in the monitoring of the existing populations of beavers in Tayside.

It added that it was supportive of plans to see the aquatic mammals returned to the countryside.

SWT’s Chief Executive Simon Milne said:

“The Scottish Wildlife Trust wishes to see the return of beavers to Scotland; it is a missing part of our ecosystem.

“However, we believe that any proposal for a reintroduction should be assessed following the best scientific information, consultations with stakeholders, and the merits of each individual case.

“Reintroductions should follow International Union for Conservation of Nature Guidelines and procedures and we remain opposed to the unlicensed release of animals into the Scottish countryside.”

Reported by the BBC http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-20044950

New visitor facilities at Perthshire nature reserve

A Perthshire nature reserve has given a facelift to its visitor facilities to help them blend into the landscape.

TheBen Lawers old 1970s visitor centre and car park at the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve have been removed.
The National Trust for Scotland has now restored the site to moorland, with a new car park placed in a less visible site within a woodland setting.

New information signs have also been created, designed to be more sympathetic to the surroundings.
The design of these new structures takes inspiration from ruined shielings, small buildings where farmers lived when their livestock were grazing in the hills, found across the reserve.
The work to restore the site was started by the Trust in autumn 2010.

Property Manager Helen Cole said:

“Ben Lawers is one of Scotland’s most popular walking destinations, with seven Munros, fabulous views over Loch Tay and a huge diversity of plant and animal life.
“We hope these new facilities will enable the Trust to meet its key aims of encouraging everyone to explore their natural heritage, while ensuring that we protect Scotland’s landscape for future generations.”


Iconic Brands Join Forces To Save Red Squirrels

The Scottish Wildlife Trust and the House of Bruar have joined forces, raising money to protect Scotlands dwindling red squirrel population.

The House of Bruar, the prestigious department store in Highland Perthshire, yesterday (Thursday) hosted an event for The Scottish Wildlife Trust, lead partner in the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project.

The partnership will raise funds and awareness for the project in Perthshire, stronghold of the native red squirrel. The project aims to halt the spread of grey squirrels from the south, through targeted grey squirrel control, protecting the iconic red squirrel. The House of Bruar will be donating a percentage of this weekends art gallery sales to support the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project.

The Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project includes the fight to contain the threat from deadly squirrelpox disease in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Since 1952, a staggering 95% of red squirrels have been wiped out south of the border. Without urgent action now, they could be gone from Scotland within our lifetime.

Scottish Wildlife Trust Chairman Allan Bantick said:

This is a prestigious partnership for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The area around the House of Bruar is critical to the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project. We hope that the guests at the exclusive event tonight appreciate the seriousness of our fight.

More funding is urgently required to ensure the long term success of the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project and the survival of the iconic red squirrel in Scotland. Money raised as part of our partnership with the House of Bruar is vital to continue trapping, monitoring and containing the threat of squirrelpox.

Many thanks to those people whove already contributed to the project, both landowners whose land has been used and those who have contributed money.”

House of Bruar Managing Director Patrick Birkbeck said:

We are very lucky to live in beautiful surroundings of which the wildlife plays such a big part. I am delighted to be in a position to offer support to The Scottish Wildlife Trust and I am glad that The House of Bruar can play a small part in raising awareness for such a worthy project.

Missing Perthshire Osprey Confirmed Alive By Satellite

Concerns for the safety of a missing osprey chick have been eased after a satellite tracked his tag.

Osprey Nest at
Loch of the Lowe

Blue 44 was born to 27-year-old Lady eight weeks ago at the Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire.
On Monday he took his first flight but despite searches by volunteers hasn’t been seen since.
However, staff at the Scottish Wildlife Trust said data from the bird’s tag had shown recent activity, suggesting the young bird is alive and well.
The trust said it was unusual for an osprey chick to fledge and not return to the nest within 24 hours, but not unheard of.
On some occasions the young birds are daunted by their first flight and reluctant to try again.
Staff suspect this is what happened to Blue 44.
They said they were optimistic following the new satellite information which showed the bird was moving and that the altitude meter indicated he was keeping to the tree tops.
The trust said they were now scaling back the searches in order to reduce the disruption to the area and hoped that would encourage Blue 44 to return to the nest.