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By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 23 2018 11:00PM

The Caledonian pine forest was named after Caledonia, taken from the Romans. Caledonia means 'wooded heights' - which is in-keeping with the location of said forests in and around the Cairngorms and Highlands of Scotland. The trees themselves consist principally of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris, with willow Salix sp., Aspen Populus tremula and birch Betula sp.



Not the usual woodland view, but an inspiration to look up!
Not the usual woodland view, but an inspiration to look up!

By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 16 2018 12:00PM

Most people will be familiar with the Common cuckoo, the bird with the unmistakeable song that lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species who then raise the cuckoo chick although it were their own.



Common cuckoo being fed by it's much smaller reed warbler 'parent' (1)
Common cuckoo being fed by it's much smaller reed warbler 'parent' (1)

Less well known is the fact that there are bees with a similar habit to that of the cuckoo.


By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 13 2018 01:57PM

Lying back in a patch of heather warmed by the sun, lunch box cradled in my lap and a cool drink in hand (actually, tepid bottle of water might be a more accurate description), a days work in the highlands is a total job. Yes, no fooling, Scotland can be warm, dry still and midge free!


Nestled in heather, I can start to imagine what it would feel like to be a wee chick in a nest, waiting in anticipation of a mouth full of grub. Strolling through the hills i'm frequently noticing bird activity which would suggest a nest containing eggs or growing chicks is nearby. Excitement and reverence always rises within when this happens. Often, I walk on by not wanting to cause unnecessary bother, but occasionally I come across nests precisely on my transect. Without fail, these encounters are spectacular.



By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 9 2018 01:00PM

Imagine living up in the clouds, in a windswept environment, with little to hide behind other than rock and scree. That's the home of the Scottish specialty, ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), a bird which has recently eluded me on previous visits to the highlands. Many people take the easy option when it comes to ticking this species off their bird list, taking a ski lift in the Cairngorms to watch ptarmigan whilst tucking into a bacon sandwich and a hot mug of coffee - or you could get up close and personal with them in a wild and picturesque landscape.


By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 3 2018 10:00AM

Team work is a huge part of Taylor Wildlife. Without working together we could not function, which makes team work a vital aspect of our undertakings. When working in remote locations, sometimes in challenging weather conditions, knowing that supportive and knowledgeable colleagues are close by to provide advice and support is a great comfort to out Field Assistants. But what would happen when we asked the field teams to swap their rucksacks for aprons? Could they adapt to this scary new environment? Keep reading to find out...


It's June, the midway point of the survey season. For returning staff and new recruits alike, "BBQ FEAST" will be marked prominently in diaries. Our field teams are dispersed across Scotland - Angus, Moray, Perthshire, Inverness-shire and Argyll & Bute - so it's not often that the different teams have a chance to socialise and swap stories from the hill. For this reason, the mid-season gathering is a rewarding occasion.




Striding across the Highlands, binoculars dangling from your neck, camera strap slung over a shoulder, notebook and pencil at the ready, there is always a hope that a natural spectacle will unfold before youro eyes. Days will pass with many of the usual sightings (which are still noteworthy) but then unexpectedly a whopper of an encounter will pay out for you. Mesmorised, you forget that you have binoculars, a camera, and a video setting on your phone - you are just caught in the moment. The moment needs to be shared, and our June get together provides just that opportunity. So, we can swap stories of the amazing golden eagle territorial display we witnessed, or the breeding redwing singing from the woodland edge. It is also an opportunity to pass on knowledge, when we can discuss the spectrum of different curlew alarm calls, or what time of year Scotch argus butterflies are on the wing at different sites. More importantly, the BBQ provides a perfect opportunity to be thoroughly entertained by swapping eventful and (often) embarrasing tales from the hill (these usually involve falling in bogs).





For people used to walking substantial distances on a daily basis, we expect our Field Assistants to have big appetites. Several kilograms of food was provided, the challenge was what to make with it... Culinary creativity is something I am well known for in the team, and I have been told I make bold choices in the kitchen, so it was only natural that I take on the responsibility for creating an appealing spread of food for all to enjoy. The entire team was roped in to help make these meals a reality, and after a small delay (sweet potatos always take longer to cook than you think!) I think we can say cooking at Angus HQ was an unmitigated success. Good work, class of 2018!


Take a look at some of the delicious results.






I'm looking forward to next year's BBQ already!


~ SJV