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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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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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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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January Volunteer Day

What better way to start the year than to take a wander in Culag woods and do a bit of maintenance as we go. We strolled off to try and protect trees that were planted by the primary school kids a few years ago. All are growing strong but unfortunately the tree guards are now too short, and the deer are eating the trees over the top! So, we thought we would give them an extension and allow the trees time and space to recover! Using branches from the wood and left-over mesh from the original guards, we constructed a second level of protection. It turned out to be particularly fiddly work, getting reusable cable ties through the layers and around the post, especially with cold fingers! You probably can’t notice from the photo (as they are so smiley!) but it was a pretty wet and windy day, even in the protection of the trees. Everyone worked together to make sure each tree was adequately protected, and we were pleased with the results. After a job well done, we walked

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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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Heath or Mire? Bog or Swamp? Using Vegetation classifications with AFC

Last weekend I was lucky enough to join the Assynt Field Club (AFC) on their Training course on NVC Heaths and Mires identification, the funding of which was awarded in CALL’s Community Grant Scheme this year. It allowed AFC to bring in experts in the field Alison and Ben Averis to teach a training course to learn how to classify our heaths and bogs in order to look at how best to manage them or to evaluate their condition. NVC stands for National Vegetation Classification, developed in the 1980’s, and is the standard way to class vegetation types in Britain. It breaks down into many vegetation types, this course looking at heaths and mires only. There are 38 mire communities and 22 heath communities to decide on from the species of vegetation found in an area and their dominance. On day 1 we spent our time near Glencanisp Lodge, walking up the hill behind the walker’s carpark. Looking at the flora, lichens and liverworts we learned how to identify key species to help with classifications. This meant we could decide

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What to Spot – August Edition

Wow, August already and our fourth joint wildlife blog with Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP). Lots of human visitors are just arriving on their summer holidays this month but, for many birds, plants and animals this is autumn and the start of preparations for winter! Many of the birds that passed through, and over, Coigach and Assynt in the spring on migration to their northern breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland are now doing the reverse journey after, hopefully, a successful breeding season. One bird species that maybe we don’t always think of as a migrant is the Oystercatcher, Haematopus ostralegus. These unmistakable black and white waders with their long, stout orange bill do breed locally but many migrate to Iceland to do so. One great example of this was a colour-ringed Oystercatcher first spotted at Bay of Culkein on 18 September 2018. The details of this bird were sent to the British Trust for Ornithology and a few days later it’s history was received from the Iceland based International Wader Study Group. This male bird was previously

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Monthly Volunteer Day Update

This year CALL have been running a monthly volunteer day. Each month we get together and spend a few hours helping one of The CALL projects. Our first in January unfortunately was called off due to snow and ice. The plan was to start the year with a litter pick in Culag Wood and enjoy a gentle walk. Not quite to plan but there were some beautiful views with the snow. It was a fantastic day for our second event. Again, in Culag Wood (after a slight change of plan from being at Little Assynt), we were clearing some of the Sitka Spruce saplings to use for wildlife platforms. Thank you to the volunteers that came and joined me, we managed to get enough wood in record speed! Unfortunately, March’s event was cancelled due to myself, being ill and unable to run the event! Apologies from me. So, let’s look forward to April where we will have two volunteer days. 11th April 2-4pm Beach Cleaning in Culag Woods down the Higgledy Piggledy Path. 25th April 10am – 1pm Monthly Volunteer

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Postponement of Festival

Due to unforeseen circumstances we have had to unexpectantly postpone our Food of the Sea Festival, scheduled to be held at Culag Park, Lochinver on the 14th April until further notice. The organisers apologise for any inconvenience and following coordination with our partner organisations we will announce a new date. Vickii and the CALL team would like to thank those who were joining us on the day, volunteering or hoping to visit and hope we can arrange this new date soon. In the meantime, please look out for upcoming announcements on our Community Grant Scheme recipients, our Suilven Path Management Handover Celebration and April Volunteer Beach Clean events. If you would like to be kept up to date with what’s going on at CALL please join our mailing list by emailing Vickii vcampen@coigach-assynt.org

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