A Bank Vole standing on a rock surrounded by vegitation. Photograph by John Harding
A Bank Vole standing on a rock surrounded by vegitation. Photograph by John Harding
Bank-Vole © John-Harding

Bats, bush-crickets, and small mammals can be difficult species to study. While most are typically nocturnal in habits and difficult to see, it is possible to identify them through the calls and other sounds that they make. Increasing use and affordability of bat detectors means that many more people can now make recordings of these species, including by using ‘passive’ detectors that can be left at a site to automatically record whatever is calling. …


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Scrub removal — © Drew Buckley Photography

A project run by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is removing scrub (small trees) scattered across 379 hectares (937 acres) of rare lowland raised peat bogs.

The LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs project aims to restore seven of the very best examples of lowland raised bogs sites in Wales, this work will improve the condition of this rare and important habitat to a more favourable condition.

The sites have suffered due to poor wetland management in the past, causing invasive plants to take over, and crowd out important plants like sphagnum (bog moss).

Invasive scrub, particularly birch and willow, has encroached onto…


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People excercising beside the Forth and Clyde canal, Glasgow. ©Lorne Gill/NatureScot

Users of Scotland’s National Walking and Cycling Network (NWCN) spent £1.9 billion in the local economy in 2019.

A new report from NatureScot, Sustrans and Scottish Canals demonstrates the huge benefits of the network for the economy, tourism, health and wellbeing.

The NWCN includes Scotland’s Great Trails, the National Cycle Network and Scottish Canals towpaths and stretches 6,879km across the country.

Walkers and cyclists made 145.1 million trips on the network in 2019, spending almost £2 billion and supporting around 27,500 jobs.

Use of the routes and the associated reduction in car travel is estimated to have contributed a further…


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Common Crane, Grus grus, confirmed breeding of at least one pair at Lakenheath Fen RSPB reserve. Suffolk, England. 17th May, 2007. Possibly for the first time in 400 years! © Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
  • The latest common crane survey reveals a record-breaking 64 pairs of cranes in 2020, bringing the total population to over 200 birds.
  • Cranes became extinct in the UK around four hundred years ago but following the natural recolonisation of a few birds and extensive conservation work, including a reintroduction programme, these amazing birds are making a return.
  • Cranes are the tallest bird in the UK, standing at 4ft. They are fabled for their dances; complex displays with bows, pirouettes and bobs, which take place every year between the male and female.

Crane numbers have hit record levels after becoming extinct…


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Dried out peat at a Peatland Action site in the Cairngorms National Park ©Lorne Gill NatureScot

Scotland is likely to face an increase in the risk of extreme droughts over the next two decades as a result of climate change.

Leading research published by NatureScot shows that the number of extreme drought events across the country could increase from an average of one every 20 years to one every 3 years.

As well as becoming more common, droughts could potentially last 2–3 months longer than in the past.

The research highlights the likelihood of substantial geographic variation in patterns of extreme drought risk, including identifying “hotspot” areas in the Borders, Aberdeenshire, Caithness, Orkney and Shetland.

The…


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European Lynx (Lynx lynx) adult female in winter birch forest, Bardu, Norway © scotlandbigpicture.com

An extensive and impartial study to assess people’s views about the possible reintroduction of Eurasian lynx to the Scottish Highlands is being launched this month by a new partnership of the charities SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, Trees for Life and Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Ecological research has shown that extensive areas of Scotland could support lynx, but the charities say returning the shy and elusive animal is less about science and more about people’s willingness to live alongside a species that’s become forgotten on these shores.

The year-long Lynx to Scotland consultation will impartially and accurately assess public and stakeholder attitudes…


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Wren ©Lorne Gill/NatureScot

Scotland’s woodland birds appear to have recovered from a short-term decline thought to be caused by harsh winter weather.

The ‘Beast from the East’ was linked to a 12% decrease in woodland birds between 2017 and 2018.

The latest official statistics published by NatureScot, which track the abundance of Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds using results from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey, show woodland birds have returned to a more stable position, alongside farmland birds. Upland birds continue to show a long-term decline, though the short-term (change from 2018 to 2019) trend was stable.

The 2019 results indicate a rapid recovery…


At times like this we can all do with some good news, so it is good to see that the RSPB and BirdLife International have had some real success with this project.

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White chinned petrel © Alistair J King

The Namibian Albatross Task Force is celebrating a major conservation success story after a decade of work with the country’s fishing industry and fisheries managers. A new paper published in the journal Biological Conservation shows that seabird deaths in the Namibian demersal longline fishery have been reduced by 98% thanks to effective government regulation and dedicated grassroots engagement with the industry.

Bycatch — the capture of non-target species…


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Beaver © SCOTLAND: The Big Picture scotlandbigpicture.com

A crowdfunding appeal by Trees for Life to help protect Scotland’s endangered wild beavers has raised almost £60,000 — setting the scene for a court challenge to the Scottish Government’s beaver policy, which the charity says is causing needless loss of beavers’ lives.

Trees for Life and legally specialist rewilding charity The Lifescape Project say the Government’s nature agency NatureScot is breaking the law by failing to make killing of beavers a last resort when the animals have unwanted impacts on agricultural land.

A month-long crowdfunder set out to raise at least £40,000 to cover the costs of a current…


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Basking shark Inner Hebrides Scotland ©Alexander Mustard 2020VISION

Whale, dolphin and tuna sightings thrill during seaside staycation surge

Sir David Attenborough calls for a halt to activities that damage our seas

Thousands of people thrilled at the sight of whales and dolphins, a breath-taking ‘run’ of Atlantic bluefin tuna delighted observers from Cornwall to Kent, an extremely rare sea slug appeared in UK waters, and rare sand lizards established a new home at their most northerly point in England — these are just a few of the highlights from The Wildlife Trusts’ 2020 marine review.

The Wildlife Trusts’ Living Seas teams are the eyes and ears of the…

Phil Pickin: Photography

Freelance photographer and occasional blogger. Interests include nature, wildlife, the environment and how nature can improve our health.

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