Tag Archives: The Carrick

The Carrick Estate is home to our luxury Cameron Club properties and Mansion House Apartments as well as the award-winning Spa at Cameron House, of which the Thermal Experience and Rooftop Infinity pool is a guest favourite. The Carrick is also a haven for golfers seeking a challenge on the Championship Carrick Golf Course, surrounded by stunning scenery to bring out their best shot.


Woodlands

Woodland Thinning at The Carrick

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit”.

                                                         ~ Essays of Travel; Robert Louis Stevenson

What is the difference between woodland and a forest?

~The terms woodland and forest are commonly used interchangeably, and if there is any differentiation, most people see a forest as a remote, dark, forbidding place with a closed, dense canopy, while a woodland is smaller and more open.

(Ecology of Woodland and Forests; Cambridge University Press)

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that a woodland thinning operation was taking place adjacent to the 18th fairway at The Carrick.  People may sometimes think that woods are better left untouched, and a wood left to nature becomes a haven for wildlife. This is not necessarily the case, as before the intervention of mankind, forests covered much of the land, entertaining a mosaic of habitats within them. By comparison, the small fragmented woodlands that survive today are not big enough to develop this range of habitats naturally. Sensitive management, therefore, is the key to maintaining the diversity of habitats, and this means human involvement.

In many woods, the trees are growing so closely together that very little light gets to the woodland floor. In some types of wood this is good for the species living there, but in many others it means that few herbs and shrubs can survive and the wood looks dark and uninviting. The trees are all competing with each other for light and they often become tall and spindly. Thinning removes the less than healthy or less desirable trees and gives the remaining trees more space to develop. It also allows light to the woodland floor, encouraging an understorey of small plants, shrubs and trees to grow. The challenge in thinning is to change the light levels to the benefit of the understorey and ground flora, to allow the remaining trees to develop better crowns without letting in too much wind which may cause damage.P1030436-0003

One of the major problems when clearing open space for woodland improvements is invasion by unwanted vegetation such as bramble. Bramble is shade-tolerant and thrives at the woodland edge as well as in open conditions; it is also an extremely effective competitor with grasses, herbs and young trees, taking up water and nutrients and reducing overall plant diversity, not to mention very good at latching on to any unprotected bare skin! Bramble plants were dramatically cut back in certain areas to allow access to the trees; however, this scale of pruning will also improve the opportunities for germination of other plants and flowers next spring.

P1030434-0001There were two main aims of this thinning project; the first was to enhance the open space and sunlight on the woodland floor, and the second was to improve the aesthetics of the location for golfers and Lodge guests alike. Dead wood, log piles and dying trees are very useful as homes for a large range of wildlife such as bats, fungi, lichens and mosses, therefore these were left where possible. Around a third of woodland bird species nest in holes in trees; birds such as woodpeckers feed by seeking out insects under bark; standing dead trees provide a different kind of habitat from dead wood lying on the woodland floor, and as trees reach old-age, rot-holes, hollow trunks and dead branches all start to make these trees more interesting as habitats for wildlife. Another feature of woods that people try to control is ivy on trees. Contrary to popular belief, ivy does not strangle or damage trees, and should be left on the trees to provide nest sites, winter shelter and food for birds and insects.

Look out for lichens!P1030445-0005

Lichens are tiny organisms that are a combination of fungus and algae. The fungus is the main component, but the algae are essential for the lichens to photosynthesise and therefore obtain food from the atmosphere. Lichens only grow in clean air, so their presence is a good indicator of air quality!

And finally, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this challenging project in such an amazing short space of time (3 weeks from beginning to end) without the support of the Lodge maintenance team. Acknowledgements and thanks should go out to Craig Reich, Ryan Barrett, Brian Corr, Iain Horner and Liam Anson. I hope you will all agree that it has been a worthwhile project, and hopefully the photographs speak for themselves.

Jenny

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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

 


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


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


Cameron Lodges Red Squirrel

Jenny’s October Newsletter

October 2016

Hello!

“It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm”.

-Dr Samuel Johnson, 1758

The weather; one of our favourite topics of conversation! Working outdoors I regularly meet guests, golfers and dog walkers, and more often than not, the weather will feature during our exchange. The weather is something we all have in common; we all have an opinion on it, and we all love to speculate, pass comment, rejoice or lament about it. It occurred to me recently that we also spend a lot of our time counting down to events, seasons and plans. So as well as talking about the weather, we’re also commenting on how “winter’s coming, the nights are drawing in”; or perhaps it’s been talk of the Indian summer and how long it will last for. I have even heard people wishing for summer again, whilst others are counting down til Christmas! There’s certainly nothing wrong with being prepared for future events, so perhaps that’s why we like to know in advance what the weather will be like, or start preparations for events such as Christmas by filling our freezers.

Sycamore Tree Cameron House

At this time of year there many species in our natural world planning ahead too and you don’t have to look very far to find them. Trees start their preparations for the winter by losing their leaves, and this is simply to save the tree from storm damage by reducing its resistance to wind, ice and snow. Shedding leaves also reduces water loss at a time when replacement soil moisture is limited by low temperatures. As autumn approaches, trees reabsorb the chlorophyll from their leaves, and various other colours previously hidden are revealed. As the leaves die, red pigments are produced in great quantities from sugars that remain in the leaf; however this process requires warmth and bright light during the day and cold at night to reduce the chances of the sugars being withdrawn back into the tree. Therefore, the nature of the autumn weather dictates the quality of the autumn colours; ideal weather conditions are frequently found on the east coast of the USA which results in amazing autumn leaf displays there, but less frequently in the UK. Leaf fall is not a random process; it is actually a deliberate sequence triggered by decreasing daylight and reduced air temperature. The next time you see leaves falling from a tree, you will know that it is a result of a methodical process!

Cameron Lodges Red Squirrel

Another species (and also one of my personal favourites) currently preparing for winter is the red squirrel. The red squirrel is the original ‘Squirrel Nutkin’ of Beatrix Potter fame, and its image is often widely associated with the onset of late autumn. Despite its name, the red squirrel can actually vary in colour from cream through all shades of red and brown to black, and during the autumn red squirrels eat as much as they can to build up their fat reserves for winter. Their food will include seeds of a wide variety of trees, buds, shoots, berries; nuts, barks and fungi, and they can put on about 12% of their body weight in autumn fat. Sadly, only 120,000 red squirrels remain in Scotland, and they need as much help as possible in order to survive. The red squirrel is a fully protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and in the interests of their conservation, information on the distribution and abundance of red and grey squirrels is urgently needed.  Recently I spent some time with the local red squirrel project officer for Argyll and the Trossachs to discuss how I could help red squirrels within the grounds of the resort. Red squirrel conservation is featured as one of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park’s priority areas of conservation within Wildpark 2020, so I am delighted that the information I gather will be put to good use.  I have installed two feeder boxes with double sided sticky tape inside the box, and as the squirrels enter the box to collect peanuts, they leave some of their hairs on the tapes which are removed for later examination. Surprisingly it is not possible to separate red and grey squirrel hairs on the basis of colour alone, so I will be sending the hair samples away for analysis to determine what type of squirrels, if any, we have on site. Each feeder is also being monitored by a wildlife camera, on loan from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which will help to capture photographic evidence of any peanut enthusiasts! ; More information about red squirrels can be found at http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/park-authority/what-we-do/conservation/red-squirrels/.

Finally, if you’re looking for a lovely woodland walk with a sprinkling of magic, have you explored The Enchanted Wood? For a bit of extra fun, pop into The Clubhouse and collect an “Enchanted Wood Fairy-Trail” question sheet. All the answers can be found in the woodland, and you never know who, or what else, you might see whilst you’re there.

The Enchanted Wood at The Carrick

Jenny


Black Bear

Jenny’s August Newsletter

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“If you go down to the woods today, you’d better not go alone! It’s lovely down in the woods today, But safer to stay at home!”

Does anyone remember when the grounds of Cameron House were home to 32 bears as part of the Cameron Bear Park? That was before I moved to the area and it’s difficult for me to imagine. I have recently returned from holiday to Alberta, Canada, where I was really lucky to see both a black bear and a grizzly bear in the wild. It felt very surreal to be within such close proximity to these beautiful, yet dangerous wild creatures, and I watched in complete awe as the small black bear ignored me and continued with his frantic berry munching. The grizzly, on the other hand, commanded a much greater air of confidence and superiority, and I was glad that I was tucked away in the safety of my hire car as he strolled past my window. This experience led me to wonder how I would go about my daily routine at work if I had to be mindful of the dangers of wild animals roaming nearby. In reality, my job does bring with it the likelihood of encountering much smaller adversaries; ticks.

Ticks are small spiderlike animals that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood. Tick live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas, and tick bites occur most often during early spring to late summer and in areas where there are many wild animals and birds. It is important to remove a tick as soon as you find it, as the risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long it was attached. It is crucial to remember that if you do feel unwell or develop a rash around the tick bite, to consult your doctor. Click here to find out more information.

On a slightly lighter note, I am delighted to tell you all that after months of tracking them, I finally captured the Carrick’s otters on my wildlife camera. If you would like to know more information about the otters and see the video please click here. I hope to keep you updated on our three furry friends in future newsletters!


Otters

Live Footage Of The Carrick’s Otters

After months of tracking the otters, we finally captured the Carrick’s otters on the wildlife camera. The camera is attached to a tree, and then triggered by any movement of wildlife, automatically taking a 10-second video. It is built with an infra-red system so it can also capture images in the dark. The video footages show three otters living up to their playful nature, most likely made up of two parents and one pup as most otters are social creatures, and the pup will live with its parents for approximately one year.

The Eurasian Otter was listed on The IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as Near Threatened in 2008 due to an ongoing population decline, however in recent years there is evidence that its population is recovering in Western Europe, so we are really privileged to have them living on site. If you want to keep updated on our three furry friends look out for our future newsletters.