Wednesday, 23 September 2015

SNH take a walk on the wild side

Yesterday we welcomed our second visiting SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) group to Borders Forest Trust this month. We were hosting a large group of staff from the Rural Resources Unit who had made a long journey from Inverness to see us. This was part of a 3 day team excursion which was visiting a number of projects around the area, including a stop off at our National Trust for Scotland neighbours at Grey Mares Tail.
 
The BFT welcoming party grabbing a bite to eat before our visitors arrived. The volunteers had already done a full mornings work by this time! As well as John, Robin and Malcolm we were also joined by Reuben Singleton and David Long (BFT Trustees) and Stuart Adair, Fi Martynoga, John Thomas, Philip Ashmole and Myrtle Ashmole (Wildwood Steering group members)
After a brief welcome and introduction we headed straight up to the viewpoint at the stell.
 
John and Philip use a map to show the extent of BFT land - also in SNH designated wild land!
John Thomas, our vice chairman  gave an introductory background to the role of BFT and our 3 main sites at Corehead, Carrifran and Talla and Gameshope.
 
John with a valley backdrop. Sally the dog is keeping a watchful eye on proceedings
A captive audience
Philip Ashmole added more information to the whole project including a history of the formation of the Wildwood Steering Group, the purchase of the site and the planting of the valley. Philip emphasised that from day one volunteers have been a central part to the Carrifran project and highlighted that is still the case today.
 
Philip giving his talk
It was then the turn of John Savory, long term regular Tuesday volunteer. John organises our annual bird survey and keeps all of our wildlife records. John explained that the survey has been running for 10 years now and gave some fascinating facts which illustrated the return of woodland birds to the valley and how they are starting to become more prevalent than previously dominating upland birds such as meadow pipits and wheatear. And as if we'd arranged it on that day we recorded our first ever ChiffChaff in the valley and had a fly past by a Jay.
 
John talking about the bird survey
Before we headed into the valley we had a really interesting introduction by Stuart Adair to the survey work that has been carried out over the years. Stuart has recently finished a resurvey of the vegetation and has written an excellent article which will be soon published in Scottish Forestry.
 
Stuart encourage everyone to 'look at the valley'. The success of the project speaks for itself
By this stage we were all keen to get into the valley and have a stroll through the establishing woodland. We headed for the hovel, about mid way in, and had another stop where we had a talk on the practical aspects of the project, the work the volunteers do and how we get around the logistics of making the ideas into a reality.
 
Site Officer in action!
At this point we had some interesting 'teaser' discussions about the impacts of grazing and conservation management of habitats. Sadly we didn't have time to explore these further as we were only able to walk a further 100m into the valley before a leisurely amble back to the car park.
 
 
A big thank you must go to Kate Holl from SNH for organising the visit and to all the staff for coming along. It was great to introduce many newcomers to the site and we hope that the team left feeling inspired by the achievements to date, just some of the results of which they saw for themselves. A wild valley. And every day becoming even wilder....
 
Lynn
Site Officer
 
And thanks to Philip Ashmole and Robin Sloan for the pictures!

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