Tag Archives: outdoor

Mull Hen Harrier Day 2016

Mull Hen Harrier Day 2016 

Sunday 7th found us braving the very autumnal weather for the second year running on Mull. We were one of 12 national events across the country, all aiming to raise awareness of the ongoing illegal bird of prey persecution – particularly impacting the Hen Harrier. We’re lucky that at the moment, hen harriers do well on Mull. 

Craignure Bunkhouse were kind enough to host Hen Harrier Day for the second year running and we were there from 10am in the morning to chat to people, explain the situation and of course offer everyone hot drinks and home baking. We ran a raffle with some amazing nature books as prizes, with many thanks to Langford Press, Alan Stewart, Bloomsbury and Mark Avery among others. We also ran a silent auction, a hen harrier drawing competition and more.

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Despite the rain and very strong winds the day was a success. Nature Scotland provided two short trips to search for harriers and both were successful – probably one of the only HH Day events which can say that! We managed to raise around £325 on the day, which will be added to last years money. We hope to use these funds to satellite tag a Mull bred hen harrier. This will highlight how important the islands are for these birds, but also make people aware that they don’t stay here all year round and aren’t fully protected from illegal persecution elsewhere on the mainland. It’ll also be a brilliant chance to educate the local children about hen harriers – a bird that isn’t that well known here in comparison to eagles!

Thanks to anyone who supported us and hen harriers by coming along, donating or even just liking a facebook post – much appreciated. We have plans for next year already, with bigger and even better ideas.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at the petition to “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” and read a little more about the issues surrounding this. This petition is supported by the likes of Chris Packham, Mark Avery, Bill Oddie and more.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

WildChild Scotland | @WildChild_Sco

One Day Wild Summer Event

OneWildDay Poster

Join us for a great day of wild activities at Duart Castle. See more information on the event page or contact Rachel on either 07540792650 or rachelannfrench92@gmail.com

Booking is essential and spaces will be limited so don’t leave it too late.

Day 23: Den building 30DaysWild

30 Days Wild 

Day 23

On Thursday the Ulva Primary School children vacated the premises for the polling station and visited Lochdonhead Primary School for the day. These primary schools are under a joint head teacher and have great links, giving the children chances to make friends outside of their own small number.

At Lochdon school, the children have access to a brilliant patch of woodland within easy walking distance which gives amazing outdoor learning opportunities (at Ulva Primary we use a local beach as an outdoor learning area). We made the most of the schools being together and spent the morning working on teamwork skills in the woodland school.

The walk into the forest area is great for wildlife too, with flower-filled road verges boasting orchids, daisies, dandelions and birds-foot trefoil. The kids also spotted a slow-worm on the track and knowing it posed no threat they were excited to see the reptile. We talked about why it was a lizard and not a snake, nor even a worm and chatted about the differences between male and female before leaving it in peace to find cover.

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A slow-worm – I took this a wee while back! 

The children were split into mixed school teams and were tasked to build a den. Outdoor education like this really gives the kids a chance to develop life skills and highlights areas that need more support. Confidence, communication, risk management and compromising were all required and some fared better than others, but on reflection all the children could discuss areas to improve and what worked well. This outdoor activity also encourages creativity and free thinking – brilliant skills which lead to creative futures in the real world. Plus, being out in nature has numerous health benefits!

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

 

Day 22: Home grown 30DaysWild

30 Days Wild 

Day 22

We spent some time in the garden at school on the afternoon making sure everything was growing as it should be! We repotted the tomatoes which are doing brilliant well. This time outdoors for children is really valuable and gives a great understanding of where food comes from. Growing your own food is extremely rewarding and children appreciate it even more.

I’m growing chillies at home at the moment and I noticed the first chilli coming through this morning! I was super excited and I’m looking forward to using it in my cooking. Everyone can grow something, no matter the limited space you have and it’s definitely worth it, you can’t beat the taste and freshness of home grown too – home grown salad leaves cannot be bettered!

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WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

Day 19: Terrific toads 30DaysWild

30 Days Wild 

Day 19 

The weather was due to turn this afternoon, so we decided to head out to a local patch this morning. Loch Torr is a local Forestry Commission site with a diverse range of habitats, including a small freshwater loch, we often cover the tracks within the forest and have had a great variety of sightings. Today though, we chose to walk along the lower shore of the loch on nearby farmland to check some good spots for reptiles and amphibians – did pretty well.

We had common lizard and slowworm on the reptile side of things. No adders today, although we’ve had some great sightings this year so far. We also noticed plenty of wildflowers on the walk, including the first bog asphodel of the year, fragrant and heath spotted orchid, heath bedstraw, birds-foot trefoil, heath milkwort and slender St John’s wort.

We then found three individual common toads hidden away in cool, quiet places. Toads are great – always had a soft spot for them, their pupil is fascinating! Incredibly they are known to live for a very long time, captive toads have even reached the age of 50! We also spotted a common frog, showing their behavioural differences clearly – the toads were relatively calm and reluctant to move (maybe they know they taste bad), whilst the frog was off in a very large hop to find better shelter. We submit all our reptile and amphibian sightings to Record Pool, even the “common” species!

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

Day 18: Lunga 30DaysWild

30 Days Wild 

Day 18

Yesterday we were lucky enough to head out to the Treshnish Isles aboard the Lady Jayne of Mull Charters to celebrate Zara’s birthday with some wildlife and “puffin therapy”. The weather was brilliant and the islands looked beautiful, surrounded by clear waters, grey seals and seabirds. We heard the rasping call of a corncrake on a smaller, nearby island and found the camouflaged egg of an oystercatcher as we landed among the pebbles and boulders.

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Oystercatcher nest

Puffins are always a favourite and it’s hard not too love them with their comical behaviours and colourful bills. The island of Lunga, along with other small islands and islets, boasts large numbers of breeding puffins, along with a whole host of seabirds and is of national importance for many of these declining species. Often there are between 2,500 and 3,000 occupied puffin burrows, with yearly fluctuations. The puffins are extremely tolerant of humans, maybe benefitting as we deter predatory species like raven and skua. Unfortunately some humans take this tolerance too far and offer the puffins food or encroach too far by peering down nest burrows – encouraged by a well known “wildlife cameraman” on TV recently.

If you manage to get past the initial puffin burrows without becoming engrossed you’ll navigate the coastal pathway to Harp Rock – the main seabird breeding colony, with vast numbers of guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake and fulmar. You’ll also pass some angry shags, repelling you from their nest sites which are tucked into tiny rocky crevices.

Great black-backed gulls are herring gulls are also in the area, with a handful of territories. Yesterday we spotted three large great black-backed chicks, with adults nearby. Debris of prey items littered the ground and included puffin and rabbit. Further on a little more and you’d enter a great skua territory and risk being pummelled by these irate birds! The islands are well worth the visit, it’s a brilliant day out, but please remember they’re wild species, avoid taking dogs and have some respect!

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Great black-backed gull chicks

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

Day 17: Butterfly afternoon 30DaysWild

30DaysWild

Day 17 

Today I fancied stopping on the route home to enjoy the view and sunshine, as I pulled into an old quarry parking space above Loch na Keal a bright blue butterfly caught my eye and I was engrossed for an hour, metres from the road, but completely enthralled by the busy array of insect life on the verge and hillside. Two male common blue butterflies were regularly disputing their patches and only occasionally settling down among the wildflowers. Wild thyme, fragrant orchids and birds-foot trefoil meant the land was a riot of colour, the latter is an important food plant for the common blue.

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In the same area, but higher up the hill larger orange and black butterflies were rampaging above the bracken, rarely landing. They were large though and I guessed at dark-green fritillary. I stalked the butterflies as best I could to catch a few ID shots and confirm my thoughts, but they never settled for long.

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Dark-green fritillary

Meadow brown was also spotted, along with another smaller fritillary – this one didn’t settle once in my view so I can’t say for sure, but it’s most likely to be small-pearl bordered fritillary. Dragonflies were also on the wing and I enjoyed my first golden-ringed of the year. Grasshoppers were in full flow, the ground almost vibrated with their sounds and bees were enjoying the nearby foxgloves.

I’ll submit all of my butterfly records to my local recorder, as I do for my moth trapping records and this all helps inform conservation of the species. Surprisingly Mull is extremely under-recorded for many species, excepting eagles and otters, so do send in records to the appropriate conservation body.

 

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

Day 16: Wild Child flower ID 30DaysWild

30 Days Wild 

Day 16 

Today at school we spent the afternoon completing another Wildlife Action Award activity. We went out in the rain to snap photos of the wildflowers in the school garden to later ID. We found lots around the edges of the garden (the areas the council aren’t so against) and checked some flowers out up close with hand lenses. We found foxgloves, self-heal, red campion, tutsan, cuckoo flower, stickyjacks, daisies, bramble, flag iris and more. The children looked up information and the gaelic names for the species before drawing and labelling some of their favourites. We chatted about Charles Darwin and ensured our curiosity was up to his standards whilst enjoying the sound of lapwing and skylark overhead. It’s important that children appreciate our native wildflowers and learn some of their names, after many common species names were removed from the English dictionary!

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

 

 

Day 15: Awesome adder 30DaysWild

30 Days Wild

Day 15

We’re privileged to live in an area of Mull that boasts some great adder habitat. Back in April we surveyed a local area for “Make the adder count 2016” and submitted our records to Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. We found four individual snakes that day which was amazing, but it’s clear that their habitat is fragmented and due to no regular or historic data for this area they could be declining quite severely. The same area is pretty good for slow worms and common lizards too – amazingly I’ve seen all three reptile species within inches of one another!

Yesterday, we got to enjoy another adder. This time a lovely, small female snake, with stunning brown markings. If you’re lucky enough to spot any reptiles or amphibians, do submit your records to Record Pool – this really helps with their conservation!

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Yesterdays’s adder – thanks to Nature Scotland for the image (www.naturescotland.com)

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)

Day 14: Lunch with lapwings

30 Days Wild 

Day 14 

Yesterday, we ate our lunch outside in the school garden, which we’ve done often lately. However, yesterday we enjoyed the techno noises made by lapwings overhead. A few pairs a nesting in fields either side of Ulva Primary and so the adults were whizzing above on their lovely rounded wings. A few weeks ago on a trip with Nature Scotland, we watched four lapwing chicks as they explored their field, with adults nearby to fend off the ever present hooded crows. We’re also hearing the bubbling call of curlew, they too are nesting in the next-door fields, chasing off any bird that comes to close for comfort.

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Lapwing chick

WildChild Scotland (@WildChild_Sco)