Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A busy weekend (Part.2)...

After Saturday's very successful and enjoyable day over at Beinn Eighe with the BTO it was time to attend the Biodiversity Open Day down at Dundreggan Estate on Sunday (14th) which had been organised by Trees For Life. The day would involve a range of talks, walks and activities on a variety of different topics and was open to anyone who had an interest and again it was free.

Again I headed down with my friend Luke and upon entering the area beside the keepers lodge we were welcomed by Trees For Life staff members and pointed towards the direction of the merchandise tent which was also where we could sign up for the various activities through the day. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to attend them all but picked out the ones we thought would be most interesting.

Free tea / coffee / juice were provided in the morning and throughout the day with various baked goods (also free) and the first event of the day was a walk up to an area of the estate to feed the wild boar which to be honest just sounded like a bit of fun but turned out to be very informative talk from Steve Morris, the operations manager at Dundreggan, on wild boar management on the estate and the effects they have on the natural renegeration of the woodland. Currently using the wild boar is a bit of trial and error but there is much useful information being gained from the project in terms of data and to the woodland itself. Currently they have 7 wild boar in a fenced enclosure of 12 hectares but different areas are used every couple of years to monitor the effects that the animals are having on the vegetation.

Steve Morris talking about wild boar.

After a quick cup of tea and scone in the sun it was time for the wildlife trek with the head stalker at dundreggan. Wildlife was a bit thin on the ground but again the information presented was very good and all aspects of deer management on the estate were discussed although unfortunately when it comes to Trees For Life they seem to attract shall we say a certain type of person with some ridiculous ideas. Present were lot's of Southern English people, hippies, climate change sceptics and some straightforward idiots with some people unfortunately all of the above. But there were also plenty of people with common sense and their heads screwed on so it wasn't all bad.

Talking to us on the walk was also Trees For Life board member Dr David Hetherington who is also an ecologist for the Cairngorms National Park Authority and myself, Luke and David had a very interesting talk on the way back down the hill on Lynx re-introduction in which David has done a lot of research work on and is most likely the leading authority on the subject. As someone who is interested in nature conservation with a background in forest management I would love to see the day but I would say don't hold your breath.

After out trek up to the top of the reserve it was time for lunch and a BBQ was on. Some pretty tasty venison burgers were on the go (£3 this time) and after we finished those we had a look around at some of the stalls with Aigas, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Plantlife present. We also had a look around the tree nursery there and were told about the work Trees For Life had been doing in terms of Aspen propagation and many of the rare montane Willows that are missing from our landscape.

This lead us nicely on to the launch of the Mountain Woodland Project (click for more info) by the executive director of Trees For Life, Alan Watson Featherstone. He explained a bit more about the project, what trees for life were doing and some of the other partners that were involved.

The afternoon session involved a trip to one of new planting schemes on the estate. Two full minibuses made a trip up to the top of the reserve where 400ha of new native woodland had been planted and protected by a deer fence. Scots Pine, Birch, Rowan and some Aspen had been planted as well as Dwarf Birch which was doing extremely well which is confined to mostly above 400 metres above sea level. We exited the minibuses and walked across the site led by Steve Morris again who talked about what they were trying to achieve. After a couple of hours we were back in the minibuses and headed back down to where we started.

All in all in was a pretty good day and I definitely learned a lot of new information. Below are some pictures from the day.

Steve telling us about the planting scheme.
Dwarf Birch (Betula nana) growing well on the reserve.
Northern Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) caterpillar on B. nana
Oblong-leaved Sundew (Drosera intermedia)
Heath Fragrant-orchid (Gymnadenia borealis) ???

No comments:

Post a Comment