16 November 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation has been working to satisfy ecology planning conditions for RES at Freasdail Wind Farm in Kintyre since 2014, involving developing and delivering mitigation for a range of birds, mammals, reptiles and habitats, as well as providing Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) services. The final step in this process was the deployment of nest rafts to encourage red-throated divers – rare birds protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended in Scotland) – to breed.
Red-throated divers spend winter at sea, and return to breeding territories (usually small lochans in open moorland) in spring. The nest consists of a small scrape, normally located at the water’s edge, or on an island. As nests are often located within easy access of predators such as foxes, otters and gulls, disturbance and predation can cause breeding failure. Nests are also vulnerable to flooding during incubation – an increasingly common problem as summers become wetter as a result of climate change.
Artificial nest rafts have been found to greatly improve the success of breeding divers. These rafts are not susceptible to flooding, as they adjust automatically with the water level, and also limit access to land-based predators.
To avoid disturbance, nest rafts were installed after the major elements of construction were complete. Locations for rafts were carefully chosen to avoid risk of collision with wind turbines while red-throated divers commute between nesting lochans and feeding habitat (the sea and larger waterbodies), and to ensure there would be no human-caused disturbance during operational maintenance activities.
Working with Simon Lawrence (Lawrence Environmental Consultants), the nest rafts were successfully installed by Caledonian Conservation in April 2017, and will hopefully improve the breeding success of red-throated divers in the area in future years.
Read more about RES at: http://www.res-group.com/en
Read more about Freasdail Wind Farm at: http://www.freasdail-windfarm.co.uk/
Photo: Diver nest raft installed near Freasdail Wind Farm © Simon Lawrence
02 November 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd is proud to sponsor the Tay Landscape Partnership Buildings for Biodiversity Conference, to be held at Perth Concert Hall on 9th November. As people expand urban environments and develop new areas for natural resources such as renewable energy, it is becoming increasingly clear that segregation of wildlife and development is not realistic; instead, we need to ensure biodiversity benefits are integrated in to these projects. This conference therefore tackles an important and very current topic.
While developments offer obvious challenges for wildlife, there are many opportunities to benefit biodiversity. Tay Landscape Partnership pioneered a landscape scale approach to identifying these opportunities with their Buildings for Biodiversity and Tay to Braes projects, which we are proud to have contributed to at Caledonian Conservation Ltd.
The conference programme is wide ranging, covering wildlife law and development, mitigation and enhancement for species, or broader biodiversity opportunities such as green roofs. The speakers are from an equally diverse range of organisations, including Gaia Research, Swift Conservation, Police Scotland, and Arc Architects Ltd. Pioneering and inspirational urban ecologist Dusty Gedge will also be giving a talk on Nature-‘based Solutions in the Urban Real.’
As well as the main presentations, there will also be a series of shorter talks including one by Caledonian Conservation Ltd Director Chris Cathrine, as well as Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Inchture Parish Church, Hillcrest Housing Association, Bat Conservation Trust, and the local Amphibian and Reptile Group.
For more information on the event, visit the The Tay Landscape Partnership Buildings for Biodiversity Conference website.
For more information on the landscape scale biodiversity work Caledonian Conservation Ltd completed for Tay Landscape Partnership’s Buildings for Biodiversity and Tay to Braes projects, download the report from our publications page, or directly here: Cathrine, C., Flood, E., Norris, G. and Johnston, S. 2015. Tay Landscape Partnership: Habitats and Buildings Survey. Caledonian Conservation Ltd, Hamilton.
08 May 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation sponsored The Wildlife Information Centre (TWIC) Spring Conference ‘Farming and Biodiversity in Scotland – An Essential Partnership’ at Musselburgh on Saturday 29th April. Niall Currie (Assistant Ecologist) reports...
The event was very well attended and allowed farmers, land managers, ecologists and biological recorders to meet and exchange ideas. The excellent range of topics varied from the experience of individual farmers carrying out conservation projects on their farms, to global issues such as planning how best to manage soils and the incredibly complex ecological communities they support.
Other talks included individual species conservation projects, such as the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s research into improving the survival prospects of grey partridge (Perdix perdix) on farms by increasing vegetation cover during the breeding season and over winter.
The break for lunch, gave attendees the opportunity to explore stands and learn about TWIC’s latest citizen science project - the Scottish Spider Search - which Caledonian Conservation has helped to develop in partnership with the British Arachnological Society and Buglife.
The afternoon session included an update from Pete Minting (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust) on the exciting ‘Great Crested Newt Detectives Project’, which has been trialing new methods of using DNA samples of pond water to determine whether great crested newts, and to which Caledonian Conservation has also contributed by surveying remote ponds and providing control samples from known sites.
The conference was a great success, being the largest arranged by TWIC to date, and a ‘sell out’ (although Caledonian Conservation’s sponsorship allowed the conference to be free to attend).
05 May 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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As the Caledonian Conservation team is out surveying wildlife at all hours, it should come as no surprise that we are often the first to come across animals that need help. Carolyn Gillen (Ecologist) reports on our latest rescue...
While out conducting bird surveys last week, we came across this tawny owl injured on the road. After a short stay in our B&B’s woodshed and a trip to the vet, we are happy to report that it is recovering at the SSPCA’s Wildlife Rescue Centre! They plan to release it back into the wild once it is fully mended.
If you find an injured wild animal in Scotland, you can call the SSPCA’s Animal Helpline at 03000 999 999 or visit their website at https://www.scottishspca.org/wildlife/
13 April 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd is proud to sponsor The Wildlife Information Centre (TWIC) 2017 Spring Conference, to be held in Musselburgh on 29th April. The topic, Farming and Biodiversity, is always important but is brought in to sharper focus with the uncertainty created by Brexit.
Farming and biodiversity are an essential partnership – farming cannot succeed without the ecosystem services necessary to support it, such as pollination (by wild solitary bees, bumblebees, beetles, flies, butterflies and moths as well as domesticated honey bees), soil creation and recycling (by a variety of worms, springtails, symphylans, fungi – the list goes on!), clean water and natural pest control. Farming can also offer excellent opportunities to support biodiversity, for example birds (breeding habitat for farmland bird species, nesting opportunities for owls, foraging habitat for raptors and owls), mammals (foraging and roosting opportunities for bats), reptiles (hibernation sites in walls and foraging opportunities in field margins), amphibians (ponds and a mix of farmland habitats can be excellent for great crested newts), invertebrates and plants.
Reflecting this, the conference has a superb and varied programme with talks on soil communities (by Dr Tim Daniell of University of Sheffield / The James Hutton Institute), grey partridge conservation (by Fiona Torrance of The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) and great crested newts (by Pete Minting of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust) amongst other topics.
Of course, members of the Caledonian Conservation Ltd team will also be at the conference, so it is an opportunity to learn more about the work we do.
The conference is free to attend, and includes a buffet lunch.
For more information on the programme and to book, visit the TWIC website.
We hope to see you there!
06 March 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd staff have a wide range of expertise, and run training courses to share skills and knowledge with other ecology professionals. Training that Chris Cathrine (Director) delivers includes running courses on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), the leading professional body for ecologists and environmental managers in the UK and Ireland. Having run great crested newt survey and mitigation courses for CIEEM since 2015, Chris is also delivering Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and wind farm bird collision risk modelling training courses for the professional body in 2017.
CIEEM runs EcIA courses for ecology professionals throughout the UK, ensuring trainers have appropriate experience of the country training is delivered in as relevant legislation and policies are devolved. While updating the EcIA Level 2 course for Scotland, Chris worked with CIEEM’s England and Wales trainer, Mike Dean, and attended one of his courses in Wales to ensure that training would be appropriate but consistent between the UK countries.
Chris delivered his first CIEEM EcIA training course in Scotland last week, at a venue in Edinburgh, drawing on over 10 years' experience as an ecological consultant and his previous roles with Local Authority and as planning casework officer for a conservation charity. Participants came from a range of backgrounds including consultants, charities / NGOs and government agencies / local authorities, really adding depth to group activities and encouraging interesting questions. After all, EcIA principles can be applied to reports supporting planning applications, ecology chapters in Environmental Statements for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs), Habitats Regulations Appraisals (HRAs), conservation management plans for sites – any project that could impact ecology. The course was a success, based on informal and formal feedback, and Chris is looking forward to running more EcIA training on behalf of CIEEM in the future.
Chris will be running the following courses on behalf of CIEEM this spring:
To find out more about Chris’s other courses delivered as part of CIEEM’s training programme and to book on to these or other events, visit: cieem.activclient.com/CIEEM/Events/Event-Listing.aspx
To find out more about CIEEM, visit: www.cieem.net