We were contacted by the people in the BBC who make the Countryfile programme in mid June this year as they were planning on filming in Perthshire in July and were interested in finding out more about our work with wildlife. I tried to encourage them to do a piece on two of the wildlife stories very close to my heart – the predicament of swifts and that of wildlife falling into roadside drains. Both of these areas need a lot more publicity to make people realise what’s going on & to enable them to get involved and help.
The researcher was very interested, especially in the wildlife in drains project (even more so once we’d told him we’d recently come across a baby rabbit that had just fallen in & drowned in a gullypot). However, the beavers were chosen as the species of choice for filming and they wanted to film them as part of one of our Beaver Safari by Kayak tours on the River Tay near Perth.
We run these tours in conjunction with Perth City Tours, who provide all the kayaking gear, kayaks & the instructor – we just provide the wildlife guide service! Filming was to take place on Thursday so we did a recce of the beaver lodge and good locations to film at lunchtime a couple of days beforehand. It was 12pm and we saw a couple of beavers out & about – so much for being crepuscular! I also put up a camera trap behind the beaver lodge on the chance that the beavers didn’t make an appearance during filming and we could use this footage instead.
I shared a kayak with Charlotte the presenter, while Perth City Tours provided the safety craft & transported the sound & filming staff. We were really lucky to see two adult beavers up close – eating, swimming and diving – as well as one of this year’s kits! Everyone was delighted with the footage and despite a thunder & lightning storm starting on our way back, everyone had a fantastic evening.
I think the beavers came across well on the programme, which was aired on August the eleventh. Charlotte was certainly delighted to see them! The beavers bring about a whole range of ecological benefits to other wildlife and humans alike, bring a lot of money into the local economy through encouraging ecotourism visitors, but I think one of the most important aspect of my tours is the sense of wellbeing experienced through just sitting on the riverbank for a couple of hours and absorbing the sights, sounds & smells of the evening. The huge benefits of getting close to nature and slowing down the frantic pace of life has been shown through a number of studies recently.
Join us for a lovely trip to the river. The beavers aren’t so active in the winter so we can’t be 100% sure of seeing them but we can guarantee a relaxing few hours which will ensure you go home feeling calmer, happier & more connected to the wildness that still exists within all of us. Daniele
We’ve been really busy with our beaver tours again this summer, with clients from Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand and more! We have been running our guided tours to the riverbank and the beaver canoe safaris in the evening, but have recently run a few sunrise trips which are also really successful.
One of the best things about the trips to the river (apart from the beavers, otters, kingfishers & other wildlife that we spot) is the bird song. At this time of year – ie late summer – the birds have pretty much finished breeding and aren’t singing very much. But they are more vocal in the morning than the evening so that’s one of the bonuses of the sunrise tours.
It’s also great if you are a morning person (like me) and it’s brilliant to get out & about first thing, rather than working on the computer. It sets you up for the day!
So join us for a sunrise tour and spend a few lovely hours enjoying our wonderful Perthshire wildlife! Daniele
It’s that time of year again – when the arrival of spring migrants lifts everyone’s spirits. This week, I saw and heard my first Blackcap in the Perthshire Wildlife garden – singing at the same time as a Willow warbler! Both of these tiny birds have flown thousands of miles from their wintering grounds to the south.
And on a trip to Aberfeldy yesterday, I heard a twittering that sounded like Swallow song. Starlings can sometimes imitate other bird song, so I was excited to see that it really was a pair of Swallows flitting overhead!
On driving south via Glen Cochill towards Dunkeld, I saw Black grouse, Curlew, Meadow pipits and Stonechat – so a great day’s birding!
Hopefully it’s only two weeks till our first swifts arrive – they are usually here between the 5th and 7th of May. Their excited screaming calls, as they fly at top speed around the buildings where they nest, is one of the quintessential sounds of summer.
Keep your eyes open for new arrivals and let us know what you spot on social media – we are @PerthshireWildlife on Facebook and @PerthshireWild on Twitter. Daniele
It’s the 3rd of January and we have already spotted our first snowdrop in bloom in the Perthshire Wildlife HQ garden. It has been a very mild winter so far (mostly) and as well as early snowdrops, the daffodil leaves are a few inches tall (no flowers yet though). We saw both Gorse and Red campion in flower in NE Fife on New Year’s Day.
We wish you a very happy new year and hope to see you on one of our wildlife experiences this year. We offer a range of walks, tours and safaris (see the events page) and also offer bespoke tours and walks. Just get in touch with Daniele to have a chat about where you would like to go or what wildlife you’d like to see and we will arrange it for you. With over 20 years experience of working as a Ranger & Wildlife Guide and having led hundreds of wildlife walks and events, you’ll be in the best possible hands.
We look forward to speaking to you soon! Tel 07984 975095 or e-mail email@example.com
We are currently working on the Community Sustainable Drainage System (SUDS) Ponds Project, which is run through the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership and with funding from Angus Environmental Trust. This involves working with landowners and volunteers to improve ponds for wildlife, especially amphibians. It also includes a workshop to make wildlife-ladders to enable wildlife which fall into roadside gullypots, escape up the ladder and avoid a horrible death from drowning or starvation.
I first discovered the hazard to wildlife from gullypots when I worked as a Ranger with a local authority, and consequently ran a three-year project to investigate the scale of the problem. The results showed that gullypots present a huge problem to wildlife, especially small mammals and amphibians, with thousands of animals getting trapped and dying in gullypots every year. We then trialled wildlife kerbs, to see if this special design would enable the animals to bypass the danger zone of the gullypot and consequently escape off the road via a dropped kerb.
There is a video of the project, which involved the local school and Tayside Contracts gullypot cleaners here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j-jQ9hYh3Q&feature=youtu.be
The wildlife kerbs seem to be working well but wildlife still falls into gullypots where there aren’t kerbs on the road and we needed to develop another method to solve this problem. Ravon in the Netherlands had also been trying to find a solution to the problem for a few years and had been trialling a ladder design. Trevor Rose from Friends of Angus Herpetofauna took this design and further developed it to make the amphibian ladder! These are bits of metal joined together to fit the gullypot exactly, and covered with a material that wildlife can grip on to and consequently climb up to escape from the drain (see picture below). We are running the amphibian-ladder making workshop in Murthly on November the 3rd and everyone is welcome to join us (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult). Our perfect pond management days will take place on 29th Sep, 13th Oct & 18th Nov and again, everyone is welcome. Ponds need regular management to prevent vegetation filling the pond – ideally there should be 50% open water in a pond and amphibians need open water in which to spawn. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information and to book your place. Daniele
Thanks to Angus Environmental Trust for funding & Tayside Contracts for their assistance in opening up blocked gullypots!
Amphibian ladder, photo by Catherine Lloyd.