Protect the mountain hare!

Did you know that between 1995 and 2010 mountain hare records have declined by 52%? Although these surveys by BTO are not comprehensive it shows a worrying decline is emerging. In fact, no one really knows how many mountain hares we have left and no one really understands the reasons for the decline however as with most species declines, a few factors are generally involved: people, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and climate change.

Mountain Hare (c) Stuart Anthony

Mountain Hare (c) Stuart Anthony

It is actually legal to hunt mountain hare as they may help spread sheep ticks, which carry a disease called louping-ill that affects grouse. Every year thousands of mountain hare are shot for sport or culled on grouse moors to help protect grouse. The problem lies in the fact that there is little good evidence supporting the claims that culling the mountain hare improves grouse health and hunting income. I don’t know all the facts about this but it seems wrong to shoot a species which has been native since the last ice age because they may carry a disease that sheep suffer from and spread to grouse.

It makes me sad to think that one day these beautiful creatures may one day no longer exist in Scotland. At the moment there is a petition to try and give the mountain hare a protected species status, which would amongst other things make it an offence to kill mountain hare. If you would like to sign the petition please follow this link – Protect the mountain hare!. Please note this weeks post contain my own views and not that of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. For Scottish Wildlife Trust views follow this link – Scottish Wildlife Trust Mountain Hare Position Statement.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Victorian Grand Tour: Guided Walk



Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
Help support our vital work and join us today!

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50 for the future survey

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is nearing the end of its 50th Anniversary and we are now looking ahead and considering what we would like to see for Scotland’s wildlife in the next half century. In order to achieve our vision of healthy, resilient ecosystems across Scotland’s land and seas, we will need to protect and restore wildlife on a larger scale than ever before. Our Living Landscapes projects, underpinned by our network of wildlife reserves, will continue be at the heart of this effort.

Eurasian Lynx (c) Tom Bech

Eurasian Lynx (c) Tom Bech

The Scottish Wildlife Trust want to hear your views on how to make the Trust’s vision a reality. By our next birthday, in April, we plan to compile a list of 50 aspirations for Scotland’s wildlife – a set of goals which we think will be critical to realising our vision. We want your views to help decide the final 50, so please visit our website and complete our short survey – There are also a number of suggestions to get you started.

You may not feel this is relevant to you but if you value being able to go for a run through your local park, being able to see magnificent landscapes as you visit the highlands or simply like to watch garden birds from your kitchen window then this is for you.

In other news, the Falls of Clyde was on TV last week! You can still see us on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys by going on the BBC iPlayer. Also, the Clyde and Avon Valley recently launched their new website – The landscape partnership is Heritage Lottery funded project which aims to conserve, enhance and celebrate the unique landscape and cultural heritage of the Clyde and Avon Valleys. There are many partners involved, including the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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‘Take 12 Trips’ Challenge

Happy New Year everyone!

Corra Linn (c) Paul Watt

Corra Linn, Falls of Clyde (c) Paul Watt

I wanted to tell you all about an idea I read about recently called the ‘Take 12 Trips’ challenge. Basically it is all about committing yourself to take one trip a month for a year. It can be anything from a week long holiday to a day out on your local patch. I wanted to give you some ideas of wildlife trips that you could take. The Scottish Wildlife Trust has over 120 reserves so we have plenty to offer! I have come up with a list of twelve below but you can of course look at the Scottish Wildlife Trust website and pick twelve of your own. This list covers coastland, woodland, islands and lochs and all have footpaths for you to walk along. They reach across Scotland from the far north in Orkney to Dumfries and Galloway in the south of the country. If you could only visit one of these this year than I would definitely recommend a trip to Handa Island.

  1. Hill of White Hamars, Orkney
  2. Handa Island, Sutherland
  3. Falls of Clyde, South Lanarkshire
  4. Montrose Basin, Angus
  5. Loch of the Lowes, Perthshire
  6. Spey Bay, Moray
  7. Isle of Eigg, Highlands and Islands
  8. Knapdale, Argyll and Bute
  9. Carstramon Wood, Dumfries and Galloway
  10. Ayr Gorge Woodlands, Ayrshire
  11. Balgavies Loch, Angus
  12. Ballachuan Hazel Wood, Argyll and Bute

If you don’t fancy all your trips being to Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves (God forbid!) then I suppose I could suggest you check out a few other conservation organisations such as National Trust for Scotland, John Muir Trust, Historic Scotland, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, Woodland Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Rowdy robin

In winter time, one of the mostly commonly seen birds is the robin. This is because they are incredibly territorial and they also start their breeding season earlier than most other birds. They are readily spotted in gardens and will follow a gardener around, not because of their fondness for people but because disturbed soil provides the best hunting ground for fresh worms and grubs.

Robin in snow (c) Richard Bowler

Robin in snow (c) Richard Bowler

In the 1930’s a man called David Lack did a study on robins and he uncovered some rather interesting information. David ringed the robins that came into his garden and he found that the robin he had one week would be different to the robin he had the next. The study, carried out over a number of years showed that it is highly unlikely the robin who comes to see you in your garden is the same one each time.

Another study he carried out showed just how territorial these birds are, he put a stuffed robin on a fence post to see how the robins would react, needless to say the poor stuffed robin had the stuffing taken out of him! Robins, are belligerent little blighters and it is said that around 10% of all robin deaths are caused by them fighting with each other. If you have ever seen two robins fighting, you will not for one-second question that statement. Because robins protect their territory so fiercely, you will hear them singing all year round and unusually, both the males and females sing.

If you are planning on feeding the birds this winter I would urge you to be consistent. Birds use lots of energy finding food and there would be nothing worse than a bird visiting your garden to find nothing for them.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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