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The Highland Facilitator Team 2012 Local Wildlife

Our actions in developing the Highland Wildlife Park Biodiversity Hub Project are said to be set to have a monumental impact on the future preservation, conservation protection and understanding of local wildlife here in the Highlands for generations to come.

The value of contributions which year on year citizen science projects will make to a diverse array of vital research on cold climate biodiversity projects is said to be potentially astronomical; and this is true whether it is a group of primary school children calculating the number of mini beasts in a set area or university students assessing the effects of climate change on feeding habits as part of some major survey.

We are keen to facilitate as many Roots & Shoots teams as possible an opportunity of participating in this venture and therefore you are all warmly invited to contact us at highlandft@yahoo.co.uk to discuss the practically endless opportunities available. Whether you come for a day or come for a week we would hope that all visiting teams would undertake work with members of the Highland Facilitator Team in order to develop partnership projects.

Our last submission to Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Programme was over a year ago, and during this time members of the group have trained as Shore Watchers with the Whale and Dolphin Society. Our viewing area is set high on the walls of Fort George looking out across the entrance to the Inner Moray Firth, and we have spent endless hours watching the antics of the Dolphins, Porpoises, Seals  etc as they cavort in the deep water. Fun with Citizen Science!

Unfortunately 3 rarer White Beak Dolphins were discovered beached a few hundred meters from our base over the summer; serving as a stark reminder of the effects of climate change as it is believed that the 3 males, who were in a starved condition, had been pushed further North by warm seas. Living where we do we are extremely lucky to see a far higher incidence of species whilst carrying out our normal day to day activities and this year we decided to keep a record of our own sightings. To date we can include evidence of Red Squirrels, Capacali, Ospreys, Red Kites, Deer, Buzzards, Whales, Highland Wild Cat and the one and only Dingy Skipper. Not all of them were close sightings!

One extremely enjoyable day was spent dipping for frogs, fry and dragons, as part of an environmental survey we carried out at Culbin Forest.

One of our next undertakings will hopefully be with the Highland Wildlife Trust at Spay Bay, where we expect to help clear bedding areas and Otter runs, in order to improve their environment.

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