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What to spot: December Edition

Hard to believe but here we are on the last What to Spot blog of 2019 in partnership with Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape. It may be the bleak mid-winter but, there is still plenty of wildlife to look out for throughout the area. To make the most of the short daylight hours wrap up warm, take a hot drink of your choice and simply go for a wander. Of course, you can appreciate some of our most endearing wildlife from the comfort of your own home – garden visitors. The visitors most of us are likely to see are the numerous birds that make a bee line for garden feeders at this time of year. Peanuts, seeds, fat balls and apples are just a few of the different foods that will attract a good variety of birds to your garden. The more frequent garden birds include: House Sparrow; Great Tit; Blue Tit; Coal Tit; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Siskin, Blackbird and, of course the Robin. An added bonus could well be the sight of a Sparrowhawk sweeping through your garden; they

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A Journey through Elphin for Quite an Adventure

Having supported The Journey Through Elphin community wall-hanging. project through our Community Grants Scheme it was a pleasure to attend the unveiling of the finished wall hanging at Elphin village Hall. Earlier in the year my six-year-old daughter had won the Elphin Chicken Day Painting Competition in school. She was now looking forward to counting the chickens on the community textile. We arrived just in time for the unveiling of the sewn artwork by the youngest member of the Elphin community to the delight of the Elphin craft group members who had created the hanging, other community members and visitors. This stunning wall hanging is huge! It measures 2.5 metres by 1.2 metres. It incorporates stories and icons of Elphin on a stylized map. Such landmarks as the Elphin Tearoom and red telephone box orient the map for the observer and are interspaced with historic and personalised memories and locations. Community members explained the meaning of the image of the Elphin women arguing with the bailiffs that recalls the women’s successful actions to confound the township’s evictions during the clearances,,

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Here we go a-gathering…

Lovely Guest Blog from volunteer Griogair MacAllein.   The beautiful Autumnal seascape looking over the Minch from Eisg Brachaidh on the Auchiltibue road was the ideal location for a morning of ‘fruitful’ gathering of ‘DOG ROSE’ hips {Rosa canina}.   The seed will be ‘treated’ at the ‘Little Assynt Tree Nursery’ for planting next year. Watched on by basking Common Seals on the islands, a group of volunteers from the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Project and the Tree Nursery, armed with bags and buckets set about collecting the familiar red fruit perhaps best known for the bottles of ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ once familiar in family bathroom cabinets. For those of a certain age {myself included} lining up in primary school to be given a daily spoonful of ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ which contains Vitamin ‘C’ as a replacement for the lack of citrus fruit after the second world war. ‘Scurvy Grass’ was an unpleasant alternative. Children in the 50s and 60s were also sent out from classes to collect the ‘Dog Rose’ hips, and in the former decade, earned 3d per

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What to Spot: November Edition

Continuing our partnership blog with Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape here are a few ideas to help you spot our wildlife during the coming month. During November, it can often look as if there is no wildlife to see. While the more obvious activity from cetaceans, birds and insects has definitely decreased dramatically there is still an amazing range of things to see. The Minch, for example, is home to three species of cetacean all year round: Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena; Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus; and Orca, Orcinus orca. Good places to watch from? Really anywhere with an elevated view of the open sea, when it’s pretty calm; but, remember you do need to have patience and wrap up warm! This month should see the arrival of more and more winter thrushes as Redwing, Turdus iliacus fly in from Iceland; and, Fieldfare, T. pilaris along with Mistle Thrush, T. viscivorus arrive from the east. Many of the Blackbirds, T. merula that we see now will also be winter visitors. All these species are escaping much colder weather and reducing food

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October Monthly Volunteer Day

Autumn seems to of come around so fast this year! A beautiful crisp day with on off showers meant we had a rainbow for most of the session! As our penultimate volunteer day this year we went for an autumnal stroll with a purpose: to collect Rose hips for the Little Assynt Tree Nursery in order to grow more. We were joined by Nick and Susan from the tree nursery to show us the best place for collecting, leaving behind enough for reproduction and wildlife. Fortunately, the walking was easy as we ended up searching along roadsides, but the real challenge was getting to the bush and then getting the hips without being spiked! We all had a great day, despite the spikes, and collected plenty for Nick and Susan to use. The next step is for the seeds to be extracted from the red, fleshy hips and sit in a cool, dark, dry place for about 18 months before planting. If planted any sooner they will simply not grow yet, they need a little time to be dormant. Thank

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Wooden Tom’s Spoon Carving Photos

On the 10th of October, Wooden Tom returned to hold another popular spoon carving course. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there myself (Missed another spoon carving session! One day I will get to have a go!), but Tom sent us these lovely pictures that I would like to share with you all. Enjoy.

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Going Wild in the Woods

Last week our 7 day Woodland Activity Leader Training came to an end. This is a little sum up of the week! What are the benefits of outdoor education?: exercise, resilience, learning coping strategies, risk awareness, sustainability, build immune system, develop skills such as problem solving, confidence, suits different learning styles, love and respect for natural world, knowledge, personal development, social, motor skills, coordination, stress reduction, balance, wonder and imagination, awaken the senses, wider context understanding, fresh air, muscle development, help sleep, reduce depression, reduce anxiety, economic benefits (free learning, reduce pollution and better education) and most importantly its FUN!!! What are the worlds needs for it: biodiversity loss, pollution, climate change, loss of natural spaces, fragmentation of habitats, natural resource depletions, increase in loneliness, depression, anxiety, stress – ‘epidemic’, disconnection to environment, diabetes, obesity and an increase in health issues. And there are many more for both! Outdoor learning’s value is constantly growing and is supported by many government bodies, charities and legislation, giving children every chance to experience their environment and love it while learning. Many have heard

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What to spot: October Edition

Welcome to our October Edition of what wildlife you can look for when out and about. A lot of migrants are arriving this month to spend the winter with us in Coigach and Assynt. The beautiful red heads of Rowan berries are a favourite of several species including Waxwings, Redwings and Fieldfares.   Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) are a stocky bird that can be seen in small groups to large gatherings. On their heads, they have a prominent crest and black chin as well as yellow flashes on their wings and tail. They are arriving now and through November. The birds that visit us have flown from Northern Scandinavia and Siberia where they breed. Redwing (Turdus iliacus) are a shy bird with red flanks and the smallest of the true thrushes we can see. Its favourite foods are berries, apples and insects. Some arrived towards the end of September but most birds will arrive this month, flying all the way from Iceland. Few breed here but they can arrive in their thousands. Interesting fact: Redwing first nested in Scotland in Inverness

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Sounds around Suilven

The crunch of gravel underfoot… leaves rustling in the breeze… birds singing… the odd giggle (or scuffle!). And the quiet stillness in between. If you happened to be down at Glencanisp yesterday afternoon, you may have been surprised to suddenly happen across eleven mostly-silent 8-10 year-olds. It was certainly a surprise for us to discover how quiet they could be, and how absorbed they became in listening and recording sounds during a workshop delivered by CALLP’s Artist in Residence, Alex Mackay. Alex has spent the last few months popping up and down between Glasgow and Assynt to collect recordings as he interprets Suilven through the medium of sound (more here), and he’s spent his latest visit sharing his passion with others. We began inside where we listened to some of Alex’s creations, guessing the subjects of his musical compositions, along with a couple of BBC Planet Earth recordings. Imagine 11 facial expressions after discovering one of these turned out to be the noises of vultures tearing at a zebra carcass, in which the sound recorder had been strategically placed! Alex

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A Beautiful Day for a Beach Clean!

A big thank you to those that turned out for our Badentarbert Beach clean on the 20th with High Life Highland Ranger Jenny. We couldn’t of asked for a better day! The sun was shining, and we had beautiful views across to Tanera Mor. Achiltiebuie Primary School even joined us in the morning and picked 2 bags full of rubbish to start off the beach clean and learnt about marine waste and its consequences. This was a different challenge for us as the beach was mostly tiny bits of rope, string and plastic amongst the washed in kelp and seaweed. A lot of hard work and patience was needed to remove this type of litter. One day is not enough to finish the beach but we made a good start and removed 154kg of marine litter. Thank you again for coming along and helping as well as a big thank you to those who clean up the beaches when they visit.

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape
Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeMonday, December 2nd, 2019 at 5:06pm

🎍❄️This year has flown past and we have made it to our December What to Spot from Assynt Field Club. Click on the link below to see what species to look out for this month!❄️🎍

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape
Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeSaturday, November 30th, 2019 at 10:26am

Today! Find us at Little Assynt Tree Nursery with the Woodland Trust for their Big Climate Fightback campaign, planting trees! Can you spare 15 minutes? Why not also head into Lochinver and enjoy the Made in Assynt Christmas Market, Lochinver Village Hall, 10am - 4pm

Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeSaturday, November 30th, 2019 at 11:22am
Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeSaturday, November 30th, 2019 at 11:18am

Holly looking very proud of her newly planted oak tree. Being a very well behaved helper at our @WoodlandTrust #Bigclimatefightback event. 13/10 for helpfulness #EveryTreeHelps https://t.co/u35r9AaQ9B

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