Update from the Reserve – March 2019
Written by: Stewart Borland
Published: 29th March 2019
March officially marks the beginning of spring, but instead of longer sunny days and warmer temperatures, this month has brought us not one, not two, but three named storms to the Reserve – one of them even cut off our phone and Internet! Despite the colder temperatures delaying some expected wildlife activity, there is still plenty of exciting updates on the fauna and flora of our Reserve. Continue reading to find out more.
Wildcats: We Are Not Ready for Goodbye
It has now been over 10 months of loving care and attention since we first welcomed our first Scottish Wildcats. They have grown accustomed to their homes, and they now spend much more time out and about, exploring the night – providing us with some rather adorable clips of their nocturnal adventures. The colder weather means that their release dates have moved slightly, to ensure that there is warmer weather and plenty of prey when they go back into the wild. We are incredibly happy to be able to hand them back to Wildcat Haven for the release part of the program, but we will be sad to see them go! In the meantime, help us support this resource-intensive rewilding program by adopting a Scottish Wildcat – in return, you will receive a Certificate of Adoption, regular updates about our wildcats and our grateful thanks.
A New Sitka Spruce Strategy
One of our longest on-going conservation projects is the removal of non-native planting across the Reserve, including the Sitka Spruce. Our initial strategy was to totally clear a small area from this non-native softwood, to see if the land would regenerate itself – however, it unfortunately looks like the soil has become too acidic, and therefore, the regeneration hasn’t been particularly successful.
We are now trying a new strategy: as the Sitka Spruce is sadly years away from economic harvesting, we have started to thin a new area. We are hoping that opening it up without felling every single tree – and leaving a horrible bald hill in the process – will be enough to encourage some grass, moss and other ground cover regrowth, while still offering some shelter to the wildlife.
To Bee Or Not To Bee
Soon another year of school visits will start. Every year, we are proud to partner with Webster Honey and teach local kids the importance of honeybees, and how different our world would be without them. In the Reserve, we have wildlife habitat boxes not only for bees, but also for bugs, squirrels, bats, hedgehogs and birds. This month, David has been doing some Spring cleaning to the bird boxes, and now they are all ready for this year’s guests.
Celebrate World Osprey Week
Between March 18th and March 22nd, we celebrated World Osprey Week! For the past 3 years, we have been graced with an osprey visit, attracted by our trout-stocked loch. This month, we have put the finishing touches to the new nesting platform, in an attempt to attract a pair of ospreys rather than our usual lovely ‘single’ guest. We have also done a Complete Guide to Ospreys, which you can now read on our blog.
Clip of the Month: Otters
We have recently set up a couple of SpyCams in preparation for the Canada Geese’s nesting, and unexpectedly ended up capturing some of my favourite clips this year. In the footage, we can see at least one otter swimming across Loch Keil. The other clip is from the OtterCam at the usual location, where you can see the adorable mammal enjoying some mackerel. Watch the video now and witness the fantastic swimmer in action.