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Sense of Place Virtual Workshops: Do you live in Coigach or Assynt? We need your help!

Our Landscape Routes project aim is to produce a toolkit to celebrate and promote our landscape within Coigach and Assynt. This can be nature, built or Cultural heritage or landscape based. We will be identifying common messages from community consultation in the form of online workshops. This project is lead by the North West Highland Geopark and contractor Countryscape have been enlisted to help collect data from the communities to create this Sense of Place toolkit. Countryscape is a creative agency as well as landscape consultants and have been working with several organisations to create similar work for other partnerships and companies. For more information on Countryscape please visit https://countryscape.org/. In the words of Countryscape, a ‘Sense of place’ is the term used to describe the emotions and experiences we associate with places. It’s how places make us feel. A sense of place is what gives an area its identity and makes it different from elsewhere. It is made up of the different landscapes, wildlife, history, people, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, memories and many other things that contribute to our

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Meet your feathered neighbours…

While we collectively remain tucked up safely in our homes, spring is bursting into life all around us. These past couple of weeks, Fiona, Vickii and I would ordinarily have been bursting into a flurry of activity ourselves; through organising, overseeing and delivering aspects of the Ullapool High School S1 Isle Martin residential with various partner groups and individuals. The amended gap in our calendar is another reminder of how we are thoroughly missing exploring the great outdoors with the young residents of the Coigach & Assynt community.   So, as we cannot currently connect directly, I am here typing away from my kitchen table to share one of my favourite subjects of the season; that of birds and their singing antics. I hope you enjoy.   At this time of year, one of nature’s wonders is the abrupt increase in vocal activity from the resident birds, particularly through their joint orchestration of the dawn chorus as the sun rises on a new day. This music signals the rapid increase of activity in nature’s suddenly busy schedule, and – throughout

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What to Spot All Year!

May marks our year of What to Spot finished. Below I have placed all the blogs together so you can view the months more easily that trawling through all the blogs! We will keep updating with more spots from Coigach to add to the Assynt Field Club records. If you have any suggestions for species that should be included please email me vcampen@coigach-assynt.org with species and location.   I would like to say a big thank you to David from Assynt Field Club for his support and co-writing these with me and the use of his beautiful pictures. I would also like to thank Andy for his gorgeous photos, knowledge and the important proof reading!   We hope you enjoy your time out and about, and as always please enjoy your time responsibly exploring the wildlife of Coigach and Assynt. Stay safe everyone!   Please Click on the month below for the relevant blog: January February March April May June July August September October November December

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What to Spot: April Edition

Well, here we are with our final ‘what to spot’ blog. That’s a full year of wildlife for you to look out for in the Coigach and Assynt area. We have really enjoyed this collaboration and hope you have too. This month should see a few bumblebees on the move, these will be queens that have hibernated over the winter and are now looking for a food source. Early flowering plants are vital to the survival of our bumblebees as these queens need loads of energy to start the build-up of this year’s colonies. Even your garden daffodils will help. Want to know lots more about bumblebees? Have a look here www.bumblebeeconservation.org Don’t forget that many of the same plants that the bumblebees rely on are also vital to the butterflies that will be on the wing now too. Just a couple to look for are the Small Tortoiseshell and the Green-veined White. Other wildlife on the move, and so more visible now includes the Slow-worm. This reptile loves to bask on south facing rocks gathering heat from any sunshine

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Freshwater Lochan Survey Project Completed!

As you explore Coigach and Assynt you can’t help but notice the enormous amount of freshwater lochans; it’s no wonder that this is an important habitat for wildlife but also a large attraction for visitors and anglers. Many a photographer, artist and ecologist have flocked to the area to see the beautiful views the lochans enhance and the wildlife they sustain. Within Assynt alone, angling has been found to be worth £345,840-£432,300 per annum to the community. Even with this being the case the freshwater lochan habitat is little understood, often impacting on the management of the lochan system and could cause biodiversity loss or even a reduction in fish stocks. West Sutherland Fisheries Trust identified this as a problem and working with Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership have increased the understanding of what the current situation in our lochans is. The findings have now been gathered into a report and will help devise future management plans. Dr Shona Marshall from WSFT and a team of 12 volunteers and staff set out to carry out the research over 2018/19

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Corona Virus CALLP Update

The situation with the coronavirus has caused various discussion within the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) team and the Scottish Wildlife Trust with regards to local and national response, and immediately required, responsible action.  This has taken into consideration the wellbeing of the partners, the CALLP team and the wider community, as well as the commitment and ambition to implement the CALLP Scheme.   Most importantly the message from the government is that we all now need to minimise non-essential contact.  Therefore, as the employer, the Scottish Wildlife Trust has instructed all the CALLP team to implement the following measures:   where feasible all team staff to work from home the CALLP office will be closed to non-essential visitors no activities, events or meetings will be held or planned, unless held online or by phone   The CALLP team will continue to help partners to coordinate the implementation of the more than 28 projects within the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape through telephone and electronic communication.  Where projects are not able to achieve their objectives, due to unforeseen

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Tapping into Nature: Woodland Artisan Courses

Guest Blog from our course leader Chris on the recent Birch Sap course. As I slowly get to know other wood carvers around the country I’m becoming aware that everyone has their speciality – some people make spoons, others cups, some people make incredibly intricate wooden jewellery while others build houses out of logs. This has got me wondering what my speciality is within the world of wood working. At present I make spoons, cooking utensils, cups, bowls, furniture, pendants, tool handles and charcoal while I heat my wooden home by burning wood and also spend time in woodlands foraging for nuts, fruits and edible fungi. I feel that I’m a real generalist incorporating lots of tree related products into my daily life. And maybe that’s my speciality – making a living from trees and the wider woodland that they form, using them to provide a financial income as well as for heat and shelter and for some of the food that helps me survive. Collecting birch sap is another piece of this jigsaw as it serves as a healthy

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Taking the Posties Path – Gabhail a’Chreig

In the 1860’s postman Kenneth McLennan carried the mail twice a week from Ullapool to Achiltibuie, a distance of 23km. Today’s Posties Path is still challenging but runs for a shorter distance, covering the 11km between Achduart in Coigach, and Blughasary at Strathcanaird. Although both ends of the path are incorporated into core paths (Culnacraig Circular and Dun Canna Core Paths), the central section of the route is still a serious undertaking with treacherous sections. Improvement to the Posties Path are being implemented by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (in coordination with Keanchulish Estate) as a project within the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) Scheme. The aim of the project is not to provide an aggregate-topped path, similar to other CALLP projects such as Acheninver Path or sections of the Suilven Path, but rather to improve access over the most awkward sections and obstacles. Early one sunny morning in March I walked the path with the Scottish Wildlife Trust North Reserves Team to review the work so far. Starting from Achduart on the Ben Mòr Coigach Estate we walked

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What to Spot: March Edition

March sees our joint ‘Wildlife to Spot’ blog with Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) move on to a busy time of the year for lots of our wildlife. But, just before we get too excited, being this far north we can still expect to see this sort of thing for a while yet! This month sees a big increase in the types and numbers of birds returning to their breeding sites throughout, and outwith, the CALL area. Just a few of these to look out for include- Skylark; having wintered much further south these aerial singers are a welcome sound and sight at this time. The males claim their territories by singing for minutes on end from heights up to 150m and all the while holding station on fluttering wings. Lapwing; another one of our migrant breeders that winters further south will be returning this month. Like Skylark, Lapwing is a declining species mainly due to habitat loss and changes in land use. Locally though our breeding numbers, while very small, seem stable at the moment but way down

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Community Grants Scheme Deadline Approaches

The deadline for the fourth and final round of the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Scheme (CALLP) Community Grants Scheme is fast approaching. Individuals can apply for up to £1,000 and organisations can apply for up to £5,000 to support natural, cultural, and built heritage in the Coigach & Assynt areas. The deadline for applications is 12 noon, Monday 2nd March 2020. Over the last three years that the Community Grants Scheme has been running, grants totalling over £72,000 have been awarded across 10 individuals and 18 local organisations. The grants are boosted by in kind contributions, volunteer time, and match funding, giving the projects a combined total worth of over £225,000, allowing these heritage projects to have significant impact. Last year eleven projects were awarded funding to implement projects in the CALL area. These awards included heritage conservation, promotion of access to local heritage, and research. The Community Grants Scheme is funded thanks to players of the National Lottery through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Scottish National Heritage. The Assynt & Coigach Creatives (ACC) Creative Trails leaflet

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