Tag Archives: Scottish Wildlife

Scotland is home to a rich variety of wildlife – over 90,000 species to be exact! From native birds and mammals to amphibians and reptiles, there’s a reason why Scotland is known as a location bursting with nature and wildlife. Visit the wildlife attractions on a family day out or go into the wild to come face to face with these Scottish animals living in their natural habitat.

As Scottish Wildlife is continuing to thrive, we’re covering Hedgehog Week and the role of Hawthorn Hedges on our blog and look out for more to come!


Loch Lomond

What is Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Famous For?

Loch Lomond is home to breath-taking scenery, craggy hills, steep mountain tops, sparkling lochs and beautiful villages with old brick work and charming locals. Discover the tranquillity of nature, go exploring through the Trossachs forestry or glide across the loch’s waters, you’re never short of things to do or see on the bonnie banks. A tourist hotspot for adventure, a backdrop for Scottish staycations, and the ultimate place to re-connect with nature. But why is Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park so famous and popular? Let us explain…

Its Unique Form

Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch, the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain, home to 22 islands surrounding its body of water. Splitting the Scottish Highland Boundary Fault Line, Loch Lomond acts as a gateway from the Lowlands to the Highlands. Loch Lomond’s shape and breadth was carved by glaciers during the final stages of the ice age. North of the loch, glaciers dug a deep channel in the Highland schist, removing approximately 600m of bedrock creating a narrow fjord-like finger lake. Due south the glaciers spread across the softer Lowland sandstone, creating a wider body of water that is more than 30m deep. The character and shape of the loch was manipulated and determined by the movements of glaciers over 10,000 years ago.

Its Numerous Islands

Dependant on the water levels, there are 22 islands and 27 islets that surround Loch Lomond’s 23-mile long body of fresh water. Of these 22 islands only 3 are in care of conversation bodies who protect and preserve the beauty of these treasured landscapes. The National Nature Reserves cares for the isle of Inchcailloch, whilst the National Trust looks after both Bucinch and Ceardach. A few of Loch Lomond’s islands provided sanction to various historic figures including Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. The loch and its islands are rich in culture, history and heritage.

Its Reference In Pop Culture

Pop culture has helped magnify Loch Lomond’s status through the infamous world-renowned Scottish song – The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond. No good Scottish party would be complete without a rendition of this famous anthem at the end of the night. The song has been recorded by various artists over the years, however, the most popular version was released by the Celtic rock band Runrig, in 1979. Unfortunately, the song writer is a mystery which has only encouraged the masses to create their own meaning behind the song. One of the most prolific is that it was written about two soldiers, one of whom was going to die. According to Celtic mythology, if someone dies in a foreign land, his spirit will travel to his homeland by “the low road”, suggesting that the soon-to-be dead soldier would arrive back to his beloved Scotland quicker than his living comrade.

The National Park is home to many small towns and villages with old-school cottages, historical buildings and various places to visit. The people’s favourite, situated on the western shores of the loch, originally known as Clachan Dubh (‘the dark village’) is the small village of Luss. TV cameras flooded the charming streets of Luss whilst filming the Scottish Soap Opera ‘Take The High Road’. One of Luss’ most distinguishing character features is their cottages, which were originally built in the cotton mill and slate quarries throughout the 18th and 19th century. Luss Pier is also a tourist favourite as it offers visitors unparalleled views towards Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southern Munro.

It was Scotland’s First National Park

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is also famous because it was the very first place in Scotland to be awarded National Park status back in 2002. Princess Anne officially opened Loch Lomond and The Transachs National Park on 24th July 2002. The National Park encompasses around 720sq miles and boasts some of the finest scenery in Scotland. From rolling lowland hills in the south to some of the country’s highest mountains in the north, glistening lochs and rivers, forests and woodlands. Take your camera as you’re never short of an atmospheric snapshot no matter the season or weather front.

It’s A Popular Spot For Adventure

Around 50% of Scotland’s population live within an hours’ drive of the National Park, making it one of the most accessible places in Scotland for adventure. The 2011 census revealed that 15,168 people live in the National Park. The National Park is not only lived in, it is worked in by many and enjoyed recreationally by thousands.

A source of adventure is never far away. One of the biggest attractions of the National Park is its abundance of opportunities for walking and hiking. In total there are 21 Munros (Scottish mountains above 3,000ft) scattered throughout the park, the most well-known of which being Ben Lomond, while Ben More is the highest at 1,174m, as well as plenty of easier walking and cycling routes. There are numerous water sports businesses located around the loch, aerial treetop adventure courses, shooting ranges, off-road driving experiences, and seaplane trips, to name only a few!

Its Wildlife

There are four distinctive areas of the National Park – Loch Lomond, Cowal, The Trossachs and Breadalbane. And each offers a unique opportunity to discover Scotland’s wildlife. Head north to Breadalbane and discover red deer, while Cowal’s coast is home to porpoises and seals. In summer you can expect to find ospreys feeding in Loch Lomond while the varied forest landscape of The Trossachs is home to red squirrels, black grouse, pine martens and otters.

Its Two Forest Parks

Within the Trossachs National Park there are two Forest Parks – Queen Elizabeth in the Trossachs and Argyll in Cowal. The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park affords a magical atmosphere with wonderful wildlife species roaming through the forest. By foot, bike or horseback, begin your journey from The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre near Aberfoyle where you can choose which trail to embark on. Whether you choose The Three Lochs Forest Drive which uncovers the heart of the forest or simply head to Loch Ard for a gentle, tranquil stroll, the choice of adventure is at your fingertips. Soak up the scenery and feast your eyes on some of Scotland’s most loved locations.

Craggy mountain peaks, rolling glens, lochs and fast-paced rivers, Argyll Forest Park is full of life and wonder. Established back in 1935, Argyll is Britain’s oldest Forest Park. Its lands stretch from an inlet of the Firth of Clyde, to the peaks of the Arrochar Alps. The Highland Boundary Fault created Argyll’s breath-taking scenery. This park is also a popular spot for avid cyclers as it offers cracking cross-country mountain bike routes including a circuit round the Argyll peninsula.

Discover Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is famous for a variety of reasons, and its rich culture and wildlife continues to develop every day. You’re never short of adventure or a pretty sight when you visit. Whether it’s a daytrip, road trip or weekend break, Loch Lomond should be at the top of your bucket list.

If you’re looking for a base for your next Loch Lomond adventure, consider our luxury self-catering properties. Whether you want to escape to a cosy romantic cottage, or a luxury lodge big enough to fit the whole family, you’ll find an apartment, cottage or lodge to suit.

Explore our accommodation options


Autumn Family Fun

Car-less Sightseeing Ideas For Families at Cameron Lodges

Here at Cameron Lodges, we’re eagerly working towards our Green Tourism Gold Award and as such we’re encouraging all our guests to consider more eco-friendly sightseeing activities during their break in Loch Lomond. There is so much to explore within easy walking and cycling distance of our resort on the south-western shore of Loch Lomond. So leave the car behind and explore all that the local area has to offer for families.

We’ve created a 3 day car-less sightseeing itinerary below for families visiting our resort. Do you have any other ideas to add to our itinerary? Tweet us @cameronlodges or leave us a comment on Facebook, and we’ll be sure to add them in!

3 Day Itinerary

Day 1 – AM

Get On Your Bike!

Head along to the Cameron House Marina and hire mountain bikes for the day. The resort has a selection of adult and child bikes available to hire for the full or half day. Cycling is an ideal activity for the whole family to enjoy, and with spectacular scenery on our door step and several cycle paths to help you explore it, Loch Lomond is a great place to get on your bike. Our friendly marina team are also on hand to provide you with family friendly cycling routes when you pick up your bikes.

To book or to find out more information on mountain bike hire from the Cameron House Marina, please call 01389 722 508 or email themarina@cameronhouse.co.uk

The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path is a family friendly route which begins in Balloch and ends in Tarbet, taking in the picturesque village of Luss and many iconic sightseeing spots along the way, including Ben Lomond. Don’t forget to stop and get some photographs, or take advantage of the many picnic spots along the route. Why not stop in at Auchentullich Farm Shop, located across from the entrance to The Carrick Golf Course and Cameron Club & Spa Resort, and stock up on some picnic essentials? The shop has a delicious supply of fresh bread, filled rolls, cold meats, sweet treats and a selection of chilled drinks, plus an ice cream counter.

Beginning at Balloch Visitor Centre and ending in Tarbet, this 17 mile long cycle path will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete. It will take approximately 10 minutes to cycle from the Marina at Cameron House to Balloch Visitor Centre to begin the cycle. To find out more about the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path and to download the route card.

You can also read our recent blog on other Loch Lomond cycling routes.

Day 1 – PM

Dinner at The Boat House

After a day of cycling along the western shore of Loch Lomond, head back to the Cameron House Marina to drop off your bikes before popping into The Boat House for some dinner and drinks. The perfect place to relax post-cycle, the new-England themed Boat House restaurant overlooks the marina and offers a varied menu of local seafood dishes, sharing platters, pizzas from our traditional wood burning oven, family favourites such as the classic beef burger, fish and chips and chicken supreme, and some healthy salads and light bites.

The Boat House also offers a swashbuckling children’s menu which includes a selection of child friendly dishes and a make your own pizza station. What’s more, the menu will keep your little ones entertained for hours with pirate-themed puzzles and activities to complete. So after a hard day’s cycling followed by some brain boosting puzzles, the little ones will fall into bed, leaving the adults to enjoy a few relaxing drinks back at the lodge. And if the weather’s nice, why not enjoy these al fresco on the balcony or terrace?

Explore The Boat House menus

Day 2 – AM

Depending on the weather, we’ve provided you with some family-friendly activities to enjoy close to the resort at Loch Lomond Shores, a short 30 minute stroll from Cameron House.

TreeZone at Loch Lomond Shores

Get a squirrel’s-eye view of Loch Lomond as you swing high in the trees, tackling a host of TreeZone challenges. From zip wires, balance beams and hanging platforms, to tight-ropes, scramble nets, white knuckle bridges and gap jumps, this high octane activity is located a gentle 25 minute walk from our lodges at Cameron House.

The best bit? You’ll get the best view in Loch Lomond from the 65m zip line!

The Buzzard course will take around 1 – 1.5 hours to complete and is suitable for families with children over 7 years of age, with an easier TreeCreeper course aimed at children under 1.3m in height.

Book your adventure with TreeZone and save 10% as a guest of Cameron Lodges. Speak to staff at check-in for more details.

SEALIFE Centre

Located a 30 minute walk along the shoreline from Cameron House, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy at SEALIFE Loch Lomond. The aquarium offers a range of fun talks, animal feeds, special events, a quiz trail and fortunately, is one activity in Loch Lomond that isn’t dependent on the weather!

Discover a collection of over 1,500 strange, beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep including the largest collection of sharks in Scotland, and 20 species of the most feared predators on the sea bed including the small but mighty Peacock Mantis Shrimp and the Giant Japanese Spider Crab, all in displays which carefully recreate their natural habitats.

Buy a ticket for SEALIFE Loch Lomond online and you’ll be allowed to enter and leave the aquarium as many times as you wish throughout the day.

For lunch, Loch Lomond Shores offers a range of cafes and restaurants to discover.

Day 2 – PM

Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre

Meet some of the most exquisite birds of prey in Loch Lomond including buzzards, hawks, eagles, kestrels, and falcons during your luxury lodge break. The Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre has over 30 birds of prey and owls, representing twenty-six species, including all 5 British owl species and makes a great and educational day out for all the family.

Families with children over 12 years old can enjoy unparalleled bird of prey experiences including a Hawk Walk, Meet the Owls, Meet the Birds and a Hunting Expedition. Learn how to handle and call bird of prey and experience the thrill when they cast off.

Find out more about the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre.

Day 3 – AM

Take a Wildlife Tour of The Carrick

Loch Lomond is well-known for its abundant wildlife, and where better to explore it than Cameron Club & Spa. When Doug Carrick designed The Carrick Golf Course, he respected the existing habits of many animals and birds during the design process. Over the years these species have thrived with the help of our resort conservation manager, rangers, groundsmen and green keepers who all contribute to the maintenance and protection of these natural habitats. From deer and bats, to birds of prey and bumblebees, we have them all right here on our doorstep.

Download our Wildlife Tour of The Carrick brochure

Day 3 – PM

Visit the Cameron Spa or take in a round on The Carrick

All Cameron Lodges guests enjoy use of the Thermal Experience at Cameron Spa which includes a selection of hydro and thermal experiences. From the invigorating hydrotherapy pool to the calming heat of the tepidarium, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. A highlight of a visit to the Thermal Experience is the stunning rooftop infinity pool. Take a dip and enjoy views across The Carrick Golf Course, Cameron Lodges resort and beyond to Loch Lomond and the rugged outline of the Scottish Highlands.

To book into the Thermal Experience, please call 01389 310 777 or email cameronspa@cameronhouse.co.uk

Lodges guests also receive 20% off treatments at the Spa, so there’s no excuse not to pamper yourself. With 17 treatment rooms including a VIP couple’s room with mineral bath, steam room and private balcony, as well as a Rasul mud chamber with steam room, and a Relaxation Suite, a visit to the Cameron Spa will ease the mind, body and soul. All our spa therapists are trained to the highest standard and only use indulgent ESPA and Carita products to further enhance your luxury spa experience.

Children are welcome to use the ground floor level pool facilities at the spa from 9.30am – 11am and 3pm – 5pm, 7 days per week.

The Carrick Golf Course is our 18 hole championship standard golf course and lodge guests can enjoy exclusive benefits including 50% off green fees, special rates for 3 rounds, free club rental and residents competitions.

Take a Guided Bat Walk*

A guided bat walk at dusk is the perfect opportunity to discover the bat population at the Cameron Club & Spa resort. Guided by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable Resort Conservation Manager, discover the difference between the calls of the different types of bats and learn all about their habitat, food and the conservation challenges we face.

To book, please email jpaterson@cameronhouse.co.uk

*Tuesdays only, May – September

Dinner at The Clubhouse

With ample seating and an outdoor terrace which overlooks The Carrick Golf Course towards Ben Lomond, The Clubhouse at Cameron is the perfect setting to relax and reflect after time spent in the Spa, or a tough round on the golf course.

Using the finest seasonal ingredients, our gastropub-inspired menu at the Clubhouse serves up a selection of hearty British classics, including crispy beer battered fish, delicious grills and pie of the day. The bar is also fully stocked with a range of traditional beers and fine ales, and an extensive wine and cocktail list for guests to enjoy. Younger guests can tuck into dishes from our golf-inspired children’s menu which features the kids club burger, breaded mozzarella sticks and chicken fajita goujons.

On Tuesdays guests can enjoy steaks, sides and a bottle of wine for two for only £39, and on Fridays there is live music from 7.30pm. The Clubhouse also plays host to weekend tasting experiences including wine, gin and whisky.

Find out more about the Clubhouse

Try our 3 day car-less itinerary and let us know what your favourite activity is! Tweet us or tag us on Instagram @cameronlodges, or leave us a comment on Facebook. Share your holiday snaps and we’ll re-post!

Feeling inspired?

To book your luxury break at Cameron Lodges, or find out more about our self-catering lodges, cottages and apartments below –

 


Family Holding Hands

February Half Term

February Half Term Activities

If you’re looking for Half Term break inspiration that avoids the airport then you have come to the right place. The best family breaks are only a bus, car or train journey away when you visit the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

No matter what kind of self-catering break you’ve chosen to embark on, there are some great family friendly activities available and breath-taking scenery to explore within our resort grounds and the surrounding area.

We’ve put together a list of our Top 6 2019 Half Term activities in and around our luxury resort below. Let us know if you have any activities we should add to the list – tweet us @CameronLodges or leave us a comment on Facebook, we’d love to hear all about your Half Term itinerary.

Loch Lomond Faerie Trail in Luss

Scottish faeries have lived on the banks of Loch Lomond for as long as we can remember, happily inhabiting the forest and woodlands, living at peace with nature in their magical faerie houses. Luss is one of the most picturesque villages in Loch Lomond and is perfect for exploring with your little ones. Take the whole family on a fairy-tale journey where the faeries fly and explore the forest in which they call home. But beware and take care on your explorations as when the Vikings attacked Scotland many years ago, they brought along some troublesome trolls who still roam the hills within the Scottish Highlands. An enjoyable walk for all the family, Luss is a 10 minute drive from the Cameron Lodges resort.

Treezone

High in the treetops lies the ultimate aerial adventure course in Loch Lomond. Let your little ones bring out their inner monkey and swing through the trees, tackling a challenging and adrenaline-filled adventure course. The course includes fun zip wires, balance beams, hanging platforms, tight ropes, scramble nets, bridges and gap jumps. Make unforgettable memories with the family high up in the sky, hidden in an enchanted forest this February break. Treezone is located at Loch Lomond Shores, which is a 30 minute walk from Cameron House Lodges.

Celtic Warrior Cruise

Take to the waters of Loch Lomond and appreciate some of the most beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer on-board our luxury 46ft yacht, the Celtic Warrior. One of our family friendly cruises is the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy some quality family time. Let the little ones feel the wind in their hair as the captain regales them with tales from the high seas, while the adults sip on an indulgent glass of champagne on the upper deck. The scenery you will be rewarded with will truly take your breath away.

Book your Celtic Warrior cruise please call 01389 722 508 or email themarina@cameronhouse.co.uk

Wildlife Walks at The Carrick

Loch Lomond is not only home to us humans but also a magnificent array of wildlife. There’s no better place to explore the local wildlife than The Carrick. When Doug Carrick designed The Carrick golf course he respected the natural habitat of the animals and birds that called this land home, ensuring the course was respectful of their needs. Over the years these animals have thrived, and multiplied, helped by our hard-working resort ranger, groundsmen and green keepers who all ensure the preservation of their natural habitats.

Download our Wildlife Tour of The Carrick guide. There are also copies available from Lodge Reception. And as you explore our grounds don’t forget to take a pen and paper as we like to hear about how many different species you came across on your travels.

Resort Activities

From an exhilarating Segway Safari of the resort and surrounding area to mountain bike hire, we have plenty of options for you to get out and explore the great outdoors this February Half Term. Hop on an adventurous Segway safari through the woodlands and off-road tracks and appreciate picturesque views of both the loch and surrounding landscapes. Our expert guides will teach you the basics before setting off on an off road adventure.

Our resort lies on Regional Route 40 of the National Cycle Network which takes you from the resort along the west bank of Loch Lomond to Arrochar. Hiring bikes for the day could be the perfect family activity for a crisp February day. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and make the most of the various picnic spots along the loch shore.

Test the whole family’s aim with an archery session with one of our qualified instructors. Learn the ancient art of archery within a safe environment. For kids aged 8 and over only, we have bows to suit all ages.

Find out more about our resort activities.

Jawsome Sharks

At SEALIFE Loch Lomond you can all discover a range of over 1,500 strange, fascinating and beautiful creatures that live in the deep blue sea. The aquarium is hosting an unmissable event called Jawsome Sharks this February. Educational and fun, your little one will become the newest recruit of the Jawsome Rangers and fulfil the mission of locating some missing shark teeth. Whilst searching for the hidden teeth, they will uncover fascinating facts about different species of sharks. And once they’ve found all the missing teeth, your little ranger will get a special play-doh gift to take home. Don’t miss out on this family fun day out and book your tickets to become the next Jawsome Ranger!

Book your SEALIFE tickets online.

 

An activity-filled Half Term Break at Cameron Lodges will tire the kids out so evenings can be spent enjoying our two resort restaurants and bars, or enjoying some quality time back in the lodge. Explore our range of accommodation options here:

 


Hawthorn

Jenny’s April Newsletter

April 2017

Hello!     

 

“N’er cast a clout til May be out”.

 

If the recent plummet in temperatures has had you reaching for the thermals again and reluctantly turning up the heating, then this old saying might be one worth noting! Since at least the 15th century, the word ‘clout’ has been used to describe a number of terms; a blow to the head, a clod of earth, or a fragment of cloth, or clothing. The second part of the saying is not as clear, however, as to its meaning. Many people are taken with the notion that the ‘May’ refers to the month of the year but another interpretation involves the Hawthorn tree. Hawthorns are virtually synonymous with hedges; as many as 200,000 miles of hawthorn hedge were planted in the Parliamentary Enclosure period, between 1750 and 1850. The name ‘Haw’ derives from ‘hage’, the old English for ‘hedge’. The hawthorn tree gives its beautiful display of flowers in late April and early May, earning its name the ‘May Tree’ and the blossom itself is also called May. Using that allusion, ‘til May is out’ could mean ‘until the hawthorn is out in bloom’.

In Britain, it was believed that bringing hawthorn blossom into the house would be followed by illness and death, and in medieval times it was said that hawthorn blossom smelled like the Great Plague. Botanists later learned that the chemical trimethylamine in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue, so it is not surprising that hawthorn flowers were associated with death!

Despite this, hawthorn has huge benefits from a nature conservation perspective, capable of supporting more than 300 insects. It is the food plant for caterpillars of many moths; its flowers are eaten by dormice and provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects; the haws are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by many migrating birds such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals, and the dense thorny  foliage makes fantastic nesting shelter for many species of bird including wren, robin, blackbird and song thrush.

Last month, I shared a short video clip of our resident hedgehog in The Enchanted Wood, which ties in nicely with Hedgehog Awareness Week 2017. Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and runs from 30th April to 6th May 2017. It aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how we can help them; this year focusing on garden strimmer awareness. The Society was founded in 1982 and offers help and advice to those with sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs as well as maintaining a list of rehabilitators in the UK. As well as checking areas in our gardens before using strimmers, there are other things we can do to help too:

  • Ensure there is a hedgehog access in your garden e.g. gaps in boundary fences / walls
  • Move piles of rubbish to a new site before burning it
  • Check compost heaps before digging the fork in
  • Stop or reduce the amount of pesticides and poisons used
  • Cover drains or deep holes
  • Ensure there is an easy route out of ponds and pools

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is a registered UK charity, dedicated to helping and protect hedgehogs native to the UK. If you would like some more information on hedgehogs and how you can help them, please go to www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.

Finally, a wonderful day was enjoyed by all who attended The Carrick Easter Eggstravaganza on Good Friday. Participants eagerly hunted for chocolate eggs in The Enchanted Wood, which was followed by a nature trail quiz. The highlight of the day was a visit from Animal Man’s Mini Zoo where an amazing collection of animals was on show and children and adults alike were able to get up close and personal with creatures such as a giant African land snail, hissing cockroach and a Tarantula! The day ended with a colourful and exciting rubber duck race on the River Fruin, cheered on by a crowd of spectators and thoroughly enjoyed by all; thank you to everyone who helped make the day such an enjoyable one.

 

Jenny

 


Hedgehog

Hedgehog visits The Enchanted Wood

We are extremely lucky to have our very own resident hedgehog in The Enchanted Wood! I spotted it one evening whilst I was actually conducting an amphibian survey, so I made sure to put my trail camera up the next day, and so far I have captured at least 5 visits in the past fortnight.  Adult hedgehogs travel between 1-2 km per night over home ranges between 10-20 hectares in size, which explains why Mr or Mrs Tiggywinkle has appeared only a handful of times. Sadly, the once common hedgehog is now under threat from development and habitat loss caused by the reduction of hedgerows and increase in intensification of our agricultural landscapes. In just the last 10 years, hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30%, and there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK. Combined, our gardens provide a space for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves, so by gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can help our spiny companions to find a home and move safely between habitats to find mates and food. More information on hedgehogs and how we can help can be found at The Wildlife Trust as well as the British Hedgehogs Preservations Society.

I hope you enjoy the clip!

Jenny


Daffodils

Jenny’s March Newsletter

March 2017

Hello!

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

– William Wordsworth

 

Daffodils have long been considered one of the heralds of spring, and after months of grey skies and rain these first signs of the new season are extremely welcome. Daffodils were first brought to Britain by the Romans who thought that the sap from daffodils had healing powers, so it may be surprising to learn that daffodils were also historically associated with bad luck, especially for poultry. It was said that if a single flower was picked and brought indoors, then only one chick would hatch from a clutch of eggs, and if the flowers really did have to be picked and brought indoors, then they should be at least 13  in number to break the spell.

March has been another busy month featuring St. David’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, the Spring Equinox and Mothering Sunday, not to mention the arrival of British Summer Time. Just yesterday I saw my first bumblebee of the year as well as a  Red Admiral butterfly!

One of my latest projects to be unveiled very soon is The Untidy Garden; a small patch of fenced off land in close proximity to The Clubhouse, which was the ideal place to reintroduce a wildflower meadow. If we are to believe the statistics, 97% of UK wildflower meadows (7.5 million acres) have been lost since the Second World War and the intensification of farming, and now species-rich grassland covers a mere 1% of the UK’s land area. Meadows develop as a result of traditional farming practices; each small farm would have grown a few crops, had permanent pasture for grazing, and meadows for hay that were cut and stored to feed the livestock over winter. Management followed an annual cycle of growing in spring and summer, cutting in late summer and grazing in winter. But the turning point came during the Second World War when six million acres of grassland were ploughed to grow cereals, starting the inevitable decline. A meadow remains an important and crucial habitat, with the potential for over 150 different species of flower and grass to support a myriad of insects from bees and beetles to grasshoppers and butterflies, which in turn support many small animals and  birds. The Untidy Garden (opposite the tennis courts) is intended to be a wild garden, where plants are cherished and the grass is allowed to grow long. Flowers will provide food in the form of nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies, and long grass and log piles will provide shelter for small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. Ribwort Plantain, Ox-Eye Daisy and Bird’s-foot-trefoil are just some  of the naturally occurring wild flowers in the garden, and with some careful management I look forward to a resurgence of colour and biodiversity over the coming months.

I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that I am preparing a timetable of outdoor activities for the summer months and with this in mind I recently spent the day with bat-related skills trainer, Author and Ecologist Neil Middleton. I have been involved in bat surveys for a number of years now, including assisting with radio-tracking a Whiskered Bat at NTS Threave Garden and Estate; participating in various building surveys for the presence of bats and assisting in checking bat boxes at various locations in Scotland. In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, therefore you must hold the correct licence if you carry out work affecting bats or their roosts. With the help of Neil’s expert knowledge and advice, I am fine tuning my skills and am really looking forward to presenting Bat walks as part of my summer programme. We are extremely fortunate at Cameron House to have such a variety of suitable habitats for a number of different species of bat, and what better opportunity for you to learn a bit more about this fascinating species too! More information about bats in general and what to do if you find one can be found at the National Bat Helpline as well as BatAbility; I hope to welcome many of you to the guided sessions later on this year.

And finally, another very important date for your diaries – Friday 14th April kicks starts the 2017 Ranger-led events programme with an Easter Eggstravaganza being held at Cameron Club. This is a pre-bookable event; booking is also highly recommended as tickets are selling out fast!  The day will start with an Easter Egg Hunt held in our very own Enchanted Wood at 11am; please arrive in good time to park, register and confirm your booking at The Clubhouse. After you’ve hunted high and low amongst the toadstools for little chocolate eggs, it will then be time to meet the Animal Man and participate (or spectate if you prefer) in his mini petting zoo! The zoo will be open for ticket holders from 12pm til 2pm, and at 1pm there will be a Rubber Duck Race held on the River Fruin, adjacent to the petting zoo. Tickets are priced at £10 per head (under 4s go free; spectating adults who are not participating in the events themselves do not need to purchase a ticket) and are available by called the Cameron Leisure Club on 01389 722 505 – book early to avoid disappointment!

Remember – arrive in good time to confirm your booking  – the first event will begin at 11am promptly. I look forward to meeting you on the day.

 

Regards,

Jenny


Woodland Path

Jenny’s February Newsletter

February 2017

“There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”
– Sir Ranulph Fiennes

This month has been another extremely busy one, and we have certainly had our share of inclement weather. Whilst Storm Doris and her predecessors have undoubtedly played havoc across the country, my colleagues have persevered in often difficult working conditions, and for that I commend them all.

Many of you will be aware of building developments at Cameron House in relation to the terrace extension of the Great Scots bar. This extension included the necessary removal of two trees, one of which (the Horse Chestnut) made an appearance in my October newsletter last year; and was the result of a consultation process between Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, and Angus Mackay Landscape Consultants. The planting plan which was agreed between the National Park and Cameron House ensured that there was a minimum replacement of five to one for both trees, and that the locations of the new trees were to support the existing ageing trees. In mitigation of the removal of the two trees, similar native species were chosen for planting; six Oak, three Copper Beech and two Sweet Chestnut, all British grown and planted to BS 8545, which is a new British Standard to assist people involved in planning, planting and managing new trees in the landscape. This standard means that young trees which are planted will achieve “independence in the landscape”; they are healthy and have every chance of survival. It applies to trees where a distinct crown has been prepared in the nursery (therefore does not apply to whips, transplants and seedlings) and promotes the principle that successful tree planting relies on the integration of careful design, nursery production and planting site management.
P1030486

Stewart McColl (Head Groundsman) and I took delivery of the trees at the beginning of February and set about systematically preparing the ground for planting, which was no mean feat! I believe the first hole dug by Stewart took around four hours; I managed to break a pick axe one day during another excavation, so I will leave it up to your imagination as to what lay beneath the beautiful landscaped lawn of Cameron House. We used what is known as a Platipus underground guying system which secures rootballed semi-mature trees without having unsightly guy wires above ground, and is also proven to improve success in local wet soils. I personally felt a great sense of pride in planting these trees, and I hope that they will continue to grow, strengthen and flourish for many years to come.

Elsewhere, work has been ongoing in The Enchanted Wood and exciting progress has been made with a new boardwalk which will link the existing accessible woodland to the next phase. Special thanks go to Andy McClearie for his efforts in this project, as well as Paul McClearn and Lee Courtney who ably assisted him. Please remember that this is still a construction zone and as tempting as it may be, I would kindly ask you to refrain from entering the Phase 2 area for the time being. There is still a lot of work to do to get it ready, but I am confident that it will be worth it. Look out for updates in the near future.

20170227_075130

Recently I attended a weekend networking event organised by Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland (OWLS); an organisation supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and evolved out of the Forest Education Initiative (FEI) which has run successfully for over 20 years. Nationally OWL Scotland supports outdoor and woodland learning through provision of resources, advice, training, networking opportunities and grants, and aims to actively engage young people and connect their broader learning with the world around them. The objectives of OWL Scotland are:

1) To increase the use of the outdoors for learning – discovering, exploring and connecting to the natural world;

2) To increase opportunities to learn outdoors about the natural world and how it links to social and economic factors locally, nationally and globally;

3) To increase opportunities for adults to develop pedagogical skills for use in a range of outdoor environments to encourage depth, breadth and progression in learning;

4) To increase understanding of the positive impacts of learning outdoors on health and wellbeing.

This summer I will be running a variety of outdoor activities which will hopefully incorporate some of these objectives, but most importantly introduce the outdoors to all ages in a fun as well as informative way. More information on the events timetable will be publicised in the next few months.

Finally, it may still feel like winter, but spring is most definitely just around the corner. The next time you’re outside, see if you can spot any of the following:
• Frogspawn – look for balls of jelly with black specks in ponds, diches and slow-moving streams
• Hazel catkins – these are the male flowers of the hazel tree and are sometimes called lamb’s tails
• Snowdrops – one of the earliest bulbs to flower
• Birds building nests – keep your eyes peeled for birds carrying materials for nest-building
• Lesser celandine – look out for shiny yellow flowers and heart-shaped leaves covering woodland floors
• Bluebell shoots – these pop up early to get as much light as possible before the tree canopy closes over


Golfing At The Carrick

Jenny’s January Newsletter

January 2017

Happy New Year to you all! I am aware that it does seem a little tardy to be sending New Year wishes, but as this is my first correspondence of 2017, I’m sure you will indulge me. The beginning of a year always brings with it reflection and hope; promises and good intentions; plans and renewed enthusiasm, and I am certainly very excited about all the projects that will unfold during the course of this year.

Carrick AwardFirstly, I am delighted to be able to share with you some fantastic news regarding The Carrick Golf Course. Last year the Green Keeping team at The Carrick, led by Jim Brown and Paul McClearn, reached the final of the prestigious Golf Environment Awards. Golf courses around the world are seeing tangible results from introducing environmentally sustainable management projects across their golf courses, and these projects are achieving an increase in habitat varieties, improving playing experiences for golfers and providing a positive contribution to wildlife.  The Golf Environment Awards recognise, reward and promote individuals and golf courses, no matter how big or small, for the time and focus they put into environmentally sustainable management projects. The Carrick was selected as one of the top golf clubs in the UK to have made significant improvements to the local environment, and was shortlisted as a finalist for the Environmental Golf Course of the Year award. On behalf of all the team, I am thrilled that all of our joint efforts in making real improvements to our local ecosystem have been recognised, and we were worthy runners-up to this significant accolade.

This year looks like an extremely busy one ahead, and over the course of the next 12 months I aim to share with you news of The Enchanted Wood phase 2; The Untidy Garden (a new and exciting wild garden project); revised management practices for our two Nature Reserves; fresh sightings of our feathered and furry friends; as well as introducing exciting outdoor activities for all the family, and lots more!

Regards,

Jenny


Loch Lomond Scenery

Jenny’s December Newsletter

December 2016

Hello!

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,

Showery, Flowery, Bowery,

Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,

Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.

 — The Twelve Months; George Ellis (1753 – 1815)

 

As far as I can remember, I have been a fan of words. I was an avid reader and creative writer growing up; my well-thumbed “Collins Gem dictionary and thesaurus” testimony to my literary ruminations.  As a mature college student, my tutor commented on my often flowery language, and suggested on one occasion that I should consider another simpler word for ‘plethora’ in one of my assignments….. Taking all this into consideration, I can still appreciate the punchy imagery of satirist George Ellis above; however, in my own verbose style, here is a (brief) re-cap of my first year at Cameron House.

The old “Fairy Wood” was my first port of call;
Overgrown with brambles, unloved and forlorn.
No light filtered through to the dark woodland floor
The birds were all silent; and flowers? None at all.
A Gnome made his home in the herb garden one day;
The birds came a-flocking to the seed and nut buffet.
Toads in abodes, and fairy door dwellings;
A new lease of life breathed into the woodland.

“Bracken for Butterflies” was a management plan,
Designed to increase flora on which they depend.
Otter spotting by day; bat surveys at dusk;
Kingfisher on The Fruin; my cup overfloweth.
Red squirrel project, pine marten, fungal foray;
Woodland thinning, bird ringing; vegetation surveys.
Barn-owl chicks; ticks; more otters! Brown hares.
An abundance of wildlife to be treated with care.

There has been plenty to do this year, orientating myself and getting to know the 117 hectares of land occupied by The Carrick. Eleven areas of dry grassland, 6 areas of marshy grassland, a single area of wet heath, 17 lengths of hedges, tree groups and linear scrub, 5 lagoons and 7 ponds make up The Carrick, as well as a 26 hectare nature reserve separated by the River Fruin which runs east to west (and a partridge in a pear tree).

The Carrick

The Carrick supports a variable range of birds, perhaps due to its extensive range of habitats. The nature reserve contains the most significant habitats for breeding birds; particularly the woodlands surrounding the lagoons, therefore this is just one of the reasons why this area must be managed sensitively. There are currently 70 nest boxes located around The Carrick and one of my jobs this winter will be to locate them, clean out the ones which are in good condition and remove / replace those which are damaged. Once this is done, monitoring of the boxes can begin again in the near future.

Signs of otter activity on the reserve have been high this year with numerous otter spraints, widespread otter paths and several otter shelters. The total otter habitat within the reserve is 400m of river, 1300m of loch shore and 4250m of lagoon edge, which makes it a strategically significant location between a substantial river and the loch. Otters are classified as protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; they are absent in many parts of the UK, therefore we are extremely privileged to have them living near us. Wildlife footage of the otters has received very positive feedback, and allows us a unique insight into their private lives.

There are fourteen bat boxes in total dotted around The Carrick, made up of a combination of regular roost boxes installed in woodland compartments, as well as two heated bat boxes based at Auchentullich Guest Lodges. The boxes were installed in 2007 following a tree survey conducted by a licensed bat surveyor, who concluded that The Carrick has good habitat for foraging bats, which are areas of open water, linear features, hedges and areas of mature trees. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects bats and their roosts in Scotland, England and Wales, therefore anyone involved in roost checks must hold a personal licence. I am very much looking forward to continuing my bat training next year, so watch this space!

As a custodian of the environment I take my moral duties and responsibilities extremely seriously, and I am immensely proud to be able to hold the conservation banner for Cameron House within the National Park.  Nature conservation is at the very heart of what Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park stands for; for more information on Wildpark 2020 visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/looking-after-the-park/wild-challenges-nature/

Finally, as this is will be my last correspondence until 2017, may I take this opportunity to wish you all well for the New Year, and I hope you and your friends and family have a safe and relaxing holiday.

Best Wishes

Jenny


Frost On Cherries

Jenny’s November Newsletter

November 2016

Hello!

 

“I leant upon a coppice gate,

When Frost was spectre-grey,

And Winter’ dregs made desolate

The weakening eye of day.”

 – The Darkling Thrush; Thomas Hardy

 

Frost; spectre-grey; dregs; desolate; are these particularly disheartening, or realistic adjectives regarding the onset of winter? With autumn merging into the colder months at a rate of knots, there is undoubtedly a reduction in colour in the surrounding landscape as trees and plants enter a state of dormancy, which is a process similar to hibernation. For many plants and animals, dormancy is an essential part of their life cycle, allowing an organism the chance to pass through critical environmental stages with minimal impact on itself. During dormancy, everything within the plant slows down, including metabolism, energy consumption and growth. Winter is therefore the best time to prune trees, for a number of different reasons, and as a result you may be aware of a number of tree maintenance projects happening at The Carrick over the next few months.

  • Pruning a tree during the growing season tends to make the tree bleed sap from the fresh cut. Pruning in the winter, however, helps the tree to heal faster because all the energy can go towards the healing process and not to the process of photosynthesis.
  • Pruning during the growing season leaves an open “wound” or entrance for insects, bacterial and fungal problems. Freshly cut trees also emit odours which can attract bugs and insects that can cause the diseases, so there is a better chance of not spreading these by pruning in the winter.
  • Finally, for practical reasons, it is much easier to see the branch structure in the winter when the leaves have dropped. It is also easier to identify dead, damaged or diseased branches.

I am currently managing a woodland thinning operation adjacent to the 18th fairway at The Carrick. This deciduous woodland has been unattended for a number of years, and has naturally become overgrown with a dense understorey of brambles, broom, and the occasional gorse with one or two struggling hawthorns. Assisted by a fantastic team; Craig Reich, Ryan Barrett, Brian Corr, Iain Horner and Liam Anson, I have been working hard to improve the aesthetics of the location for golfers and Lodge guests alike. I am confident that next spring the newly thinned woodland will also play host to a much bigger variety of woodland plants and flowers, whilst maintaining continuous cover. The phrase ‘continuous cover forestry’ is defined as the use of silvicultural systems whereby the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clear felling. Clear felling is the cutting down of all trees, and in an area as abundant in wildlife as the shores of Loch Lomond, it goes without saying that wildlife habitats should be maintained, if not enhanced, wherever possible. For those of you who may have been disturbed by the not-so-melodious sounds of chainsaws, and a wood chipper, I can only apologise for any inconvenience, but rest assured this project will be completed well before the Christmas festivities begin.

PineMarten
Last month I was very excited to tell you about my involvement in a squirrel survey, co-ordinated by Clare McInroy from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and I was surprised and delighted to capture a somewhat larger visitor to one of the feeder boxes. This is not, in fact, a genetically mutated squirrel of any kind, but rather a pine marten, which sniffed out the free peanuts on offer. The pine marten (Martes martes) is native to Britain and is a member of the mustelid family, so its relatives include the weasel, stoat, polecat and otter. Pine martens are similar in size to domestic cats, with brown fur with a distinctive cream ‘bib’ on the throat, long bushy tail and prominent rounded ears. Pine martens prefer woodland habitats but can also live in conifer plantations and on rocky hillsides. They enjoy a variety of food, including small mammals, fruit, birds, eggs, insect, carrion and free peanuts!

Pinemarten

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the pine marten population declined dramatically as a result of both woodland clearances as well as predator control associated with the increase in game shooting. By the early 20th century, pine martens had become extinct in most of southern Britain and were confined to north-west Scotland and some upland areas of northern England, such as the Lake District. From the 1930s, following a reduction in trapping pressure, pine martens began to recover in Scotland and the population has slowly expanded and re-colonised many parts of its former range. Pine martens are now listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981, which means it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take a wild pine marten; damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which such an animal uses for shelter or protection; disturb such an animal when it is occupying a structure or place for that purpose, or possess, sell, offer for sale or possess or transport for the purpose of sale any live or dead pine marten or any derivative of such an animal. Pine martens are crepuscular which means they are mainly active at night and at dusk, so unless you are out in the woods in the middle of the night the best place to view them is here on our YouTube channel.

Jenny