A number of months ago we staged a series of workshops in and around Inverness raising awareness of Roots & Shoots and advising the public about the need for them to prepare a small portion of their garden with wet mud, as winds and unseasonably dry conditions had resulted in House Martins all over the country being unable to prepare their nests. Action was needed as a lack of successful second broods threatened the survival of the species, and whilst it is difficult to think back to those days following the summer we have just had, it was an important message at the time. Reports have subsequently confirmed that there was a significant increase in the number of House Martins successfully breading in the region for the first time in 15yrs; and whether this was a direct result of our campaigning or not, we like to think that we contributed a little to the well being of a delightful visitor.
Whilst we did not conduct specific surveys on the number of Butterflies and Bees in the garden this year, their numbers did seem to be down dramatically on last year and we only recorded one ladybird over the whole of the summer. We spoke to Murdo MacDonald the Bio Diversity for Scotland about this during our field trip with him and he informed the children that weather, colder conditions and a loss of habitat was almost certainly to blame. Whilst we were chatting to Murdo we noticed a beautifully colored Common Lizard resting by our feet. In nearly 11 years of observation in and around our local area this was only the second time we had ever seen one and Mike, our Marine Biologist friend had never seen one at all! The field trip which some of our members undertook with Murdo and Mike on Ardersier Beach was very interesting and slowly built up a picture of the bio diversity of the bay and the importance it plays in the feeding of migratory birds. We were very impressed by the enthusiasm of the two gentlemen and Mike in particular was the epitome of a kid in a sand box, such is the depth of his enthusiasm for his subject.
We have continued to support Nick Martin and his Scottish Exotic Animal Rescue Centre, with one particular member being heavily involved in caring for the animals. Jessica stated “Over the summer I have been helping out with Nick. It has been fun and I learned a lot more about the animals. I have helped him at many Galas and Public Talks, attempting in the process to raise much needed funds. Helping Nick has allowed me grow in confidence not only with the animals but with speaking to the public…something which will be a great help when carrying out our Roots & Shoots work”.
Jessica like all of Nick’s helpers has been taught not only how to care for the animals in his care but to educate the public as well, through the many events and workshops attended.
This has been our best ever session for spotting dolphins and seals in Ardersier Bay which is actually at odds with reports from the WDCS who have recorded a marked drop in numbers this session. Thankfully all of our sightings have been clearly visible and not just imagined humps in the water. We have been particularly impressed with the amount of times we encountered a female and her calf. Our most exciting observation was one evening in early summer when we spotted a pod of 5 or 6 dolphins off the beach at Nairn and we watched enthralled as they cavorted and jumped right in front of us for over half an hour…needless to say I didn’t have my camera!
The team spent a lot of time this summer undertaking various woodland activities, some of which were undertaken as part of their 2nd John Muir Award, and these ventures invariably led to discoveries and experiences of nature caring for itself.