Archive of: November, 2017

Nest rafts for red-throated divers installed at Freasdail Wind Farm

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Nest rafts for red-throated divers installed at Freasdail Wind Farm

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:

Read more about Freasdail Wind Farm at:

Photo:  Diver nest raft installed near Freasdail Wind Farm © Simon Lawrence


‘Extinct’ flutter-wing fly last seen 100 years ago found in Angus, Scotland

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‘Extinct’ flutter-wing fly last seen 100 years ago found in Angus, Scotland

A rare flutter-wing fly, Palloptera laetabilis, not seen in the UK for over 100 years has been found at Den of Airlie Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a woodland in Angus.  This is also the first time this fly has ever been found in Scotland.

The rare fly was presumed to be extinct, but was found during site condition monitoring surveys completed by Caledonian Conservation under contract to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in 2015.  The discovery has since been confirmed and published by Steven Falk (the fly expert on the project team) in the most recent issue of Dipterists Digest.

Den of Airlie SSSI is only the fifth site that this species has been recorded at in the UK, and the only one in Scotland.  The other four sites are all located in England, with the last record being from Oxfordshire in 1907.

Chris Cathrine, Director of Caledonian Conservation and project leader for the 2015 invertebrate site condition monitoring project said:  “Finding a species last recorded over a century ago is very exciting.  That this is also the first record for the species in Scotland makes this all the more special.  We found a great number of rare species during our surveys across Scotland.  While Palloptera laetabilis is undoubtedly the most exciting, we hope to publish records from all 25 sites, including the Isle of Rum, in the future.”

The invertebrate records collected by Caledonian Conservation during these surveys (including Den of Airlie SSSI) are available on NBN Atlas at:

Learn more about SNH’s work in Scotland at:

Steven Falk’s paper on Palloptera laetabilis is available on the Caledonian Conservation publications page, or directly here.

Steven Falk was contracted by Caledonian Conservation to complete surveys for this project through his previous role at Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.  For more information on Steven Falk’s work and photography, please visit:

For more information about the Dipterists Digest visit:

Photo:  Female Palloptera laetabilis from Den of Airlie Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) © Steven Falk


Winners of 'Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science' Competition

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Winners of 'Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science' Competition

The winners of the Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science competition have been presented with their awards at Edinburgh Zoo, including Caledonian Conservation beanie hats!  

Young artists and writers from across Scotland attended the event on 21st October, organised by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust and hosted by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).  Children aged 8-18 were asked to paint, draw or write about 15 iconic Scottish species, ranging from Scottish wildcats and red deer to great crested newts. According to ARC's patron and TV presenter Chris Packham: "There are some very striking, imaginative and colourful artworks... and some tremendous essays describing these wonderful animals."

Caledonian Conservation were proud to sponsor the event, with Director Chris Cathrine saying: “Young people are losing their connection to the natural world.  If people don’t care about wildlife, they won’t want to protect it.  It is therefore essential to ensure that the next generation have the opportunity to explore and share in the wonder of Scotland’s wildlife.  It’s an honour and a privilege to help young people build their connection with nature.  Who knows, maybe some of the winners will go on to become the ecologists of the future.”

The creative work done by the children will now be used to help illustrate a new book called "Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science: how DNA technology is being used to help save Scotland's wildlife". The book is being compiled by Dr Pete Minting of ARC.

The Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science competition is part of ARC's Great Crested Newt Detectives project in Scotland, which started in April 2016 and runs until March 2018, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and ARC.

To read more about Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science go to this website:

You can learn more about Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust here:

The photo was provided by Pete Minting (ARC) and is used with permission.


Tay Landscape Partnership Buildings for Biodiversity Conference

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Tay Landscape Partnership Buildings for Biodiversity Conference

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.


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