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By Taylor Wildlife, May 30 2019 02:00PM

It's May. Rucksack packed? Check! Midge repellent? Check!

The time has come to start a new adventure in the wild glens of Scotland.

The landscape is breathtaking, and at times brutal. Getting to grips with survey techniques and navigation training with the guidance of experienced team leaders, everything starts to fall into place.

Walking out to your first survey area, a sense of excitement, determination and anticipation fills you with each step. You can get these surveys done!!

You've arrived at your start point (you hope!). Plotting your GPS coordinates; notebook and maps at the ready, you wonder what you will see today.

Manoevering through upland habitats proves a challenge; tussocks, heather and sphagnum moss bogs can be, in all honesty, a pain. But without them, there wouldn't be the fantastic array of species for you to find.

The first time you see or hear something new to you, or even something familiar that you love in such a beautiful place (for me seeing buzzards soaring high above, calling wistfully) is inspiring.

A couple of weeks in and (Scottish weather permitting) several surveys under your belt, the landscape seems more familiar and you will feel confident navigating through the vast moorland (although you will always be childishly happy when your survey route happens to take you along a path).

Gaining experience as you go along, you quickly learn the best (and worst!) places to put your feet when out on difficult ground. Your fitness levels quickly improve and your knowledge of the species and ecology around you increases. Undoubtedly, you will also discover muscles you didn't know you had, as well as a genuine and heartfelt appreciation for blister plasters!

Falling over is, i'm afraid, inevitable, and in hindsight can be comedy gold! At least there's no chance of you appearing on an episode of 'You've been framed', after all only a couple of bemused grouse and perhaps an observant eagle spotted you - but did you spot them? Quick! Where's my pencil?!"

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, Jun 21 2018 11:06AM

Taylor Wildlife staff had a very enjoyable (and we hope very informative) weekend providing training to a group from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Having made the long journey up and endured the dreaded 'campsite midge' the group were still in great form and keen to begin their weekend-long Introduction to Upland Surveying course. We kicked off with an indoor session on navigation taught by Joe, before moving outside to put theory into practice.

Navigation training kicked off with some pacing exercises
Navigation training kicked off with some pacing exercises

By Taylor Wildlife, Apr 30 2018 10:00AM

The Scottish Highlands has mighty lungs. Windswept though it may be when her gusts lash across the heather hills and whip over bending burns, her force and the rough conditions she creates are finite. As her breath becomes feeble and the winds die down, the landscape comes alive.