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7th Jul 2022

The new ranger team gets stuck in with conservation work!

Our first month as part of the new ranger team in the Glen has been full of surprises, challenges, midges, and patrols, but we have also had the opportunity to get involved with some great conservation related tasks!

Marvellous Moths

We have been setting up the moth trap a few nights a week, spending the first part of the morning with the moth ID books, trawling through pages of very similar looking, small brown winged-things. It can be quite a relaxed start to the day, and it’s been great seeing such a variety literally on our doorstep. So far, we have identified 31 species of moths that have made their way into the trap and only a couple have escaped mid-ID…

We also had a go at walking the butterfly conservation transect in the Glen on a rather warm sunny day last week. How hard can it be we thought, after all, we’ve become quite accustomed to identifying their small fuzzy nocturnal counterparts, surely butterflies can’t be too different? Off we went, armed with nets and magnifying pots, and were very proud to record four Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and nine Ringlets! Shortly after, we unfortunately realised we weren’t quite the lepidoptera experts that we thought, having discovered the Ringlets were in fact common day-flying Chimney Sweep moths…

Ben Path Maintenance

Last week four of us were let loose on the Ben path – the cross drains between the Red Burn and Corner 1 needed clearing, ready to take on the footfall of the visitors to come over the summer. In classic Fort William fashion, we faced almost every weather that day as we lugged up the weighty mattocks and shovels on our bags. After a picturesque but chilly lunch stop at the Halfway Lochan, we quickly ascended to our goal and cracked on with the task at hand. Several of the drains were full to the top of the rocks that had slid down the path, so it was certainly a job worth doing once we finally got there. And a big thanks goes out to everyone that stopped and chatted to us that day – we got some really lovely comments that made the thought of heading all the way back down again much easier!

Barn Owl Checks

A real highlight of the new job so far has been the barn owl box checks we completed in our first week with Volunteer Co-ordinator, Rory. Trudging off the path and into wilder territory, we’ve been investigating which of the boxes have adults, chicks, or eggs. While providing dinner for many midges, we had a handful of successful visits, including a pair of boxes in particular which were housing two adults and four tiny fluffy chicks!

Tree Planting and Bracken Bashing

Last Monday we all got the ferry over to Strontian, along with a handful of planting spades and a bag of Scots Pine trees. There we met up with a group from UHI and planted the trees together to celebrate the university’s anniversary that took place during lockdown. So, keep an eye out along Phemies Walk if you’re ever over there and let us know how our trees are doing!

Keeping to the tree theme, yesterday, Evie, Charlotte, and Julia went out bracken bashing in one of our exclosures, maintaining the ground so that the native tree species can grow without competing for space and sunlight. It was great to hear that some of the trees were taller than the bracken, meaning they’re doing well and making their job yesterday slightly easier. Not that that could be said for all of the trees, some of which were still hiding among the undergrowth, waiting for someone to come along and open up the space for them to grow!

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