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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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The Big Climate Fightback: Tree Planting at Little Assynt

Guest Blog by Alison Roe   Saturday 30th November Quinag looms high on the horizon, glowing gently in the afternoon sun as I pull into the car park by the tree nursery at Little Assynt. I’m here for the tree planting event, organised by CALLP in partnership with The Woodland Trust, and we’re definitely lucky with the weather. Rain and high winds are forecast for the coming week but today it’s beautiful – cold and clear – a great day to be outside and good conditions for planting trees. The area to be planted is just a few minutes walk along the path from the car park: a little hollow open to the east with views over to Quinag. Even though I’ve arrived quite early, there are already quite a few folk busy with spades, with Elaine on hand to explain what to do. I comment on the beauty of the location. Elaine explains that they chose this particular spot for its easy access and for its suitability for planting: it’s not too steep and is mostly grass and bracken

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Thanks to You for 25 Years

The 19th November 2019 saw the 25th Birthday of the National Lottery and its funding of community projects such as us. The quiz this year was slightly different to the last. Instead of a December Christmas theme we had a Birthday party! Plenty of snacks and, of course, birthday cake, where shared amongst the 31 attendees as well as laughs and frustrations! Questions were based on the wildlife, landscape and people of CALL with added knowledge needed of 1994 to win this quiz. The scores were tight all night and the winners won by a quarter of a point! Congratulations to the winning team, The Indecicives and to the randomly picked team, The Developmentalists, we hope you enjoy your prizes. The baskets had a mix of local produce including the limited-edition Isle Martin Gin from the Highland Liquor Company in partnership with the Isle Martin Trust. CALLP has received £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to the end of September 2019, with a further £1.5 million due over the next 2 years. This funding has, so far, helped us

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What to Spot: September Edition

Welcome to our September Edition of What to Spot. Birds beginning to migrate south, trees beginning to turn golden and a slight chill in the air; Autumn is coming. There is still plenty to see out and about! One of the largest birds we have within CALL is the beautiful Gannet (Morus bassanus). Such amazing birds, diving at speeds of up to 55mph into the water with their large wings folded back to lower air resistance. Not only that but they lock the vertebrae in their neck when diving, inflate air sacks within their breast to protect themselves from the impact on the water and they avoid getting water up their nose buy having no external nostrils! Absolutely fascinating animal and watching them dive is a sight to remember. At this time of year Gannets are starting to migrate towards Africa although some stay and are joined by birds from St Kilda and the island Sula Sgeir in the Atlantic Ocean. Try Stoer Lighthouse or Reiff to see these seabirds although you could find them out at sea anywhere along

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Hill to Grill 2019 finale: “The Apprentice meets The Great British Bake Off”

For the finale of this year’s Hill to Grill programme we were invited by Ullapool High School to come and sample the venison burger recipes designed and prepared by the pupils. The pupils spent a day creating a recipe, cooking, making packaging and designing a marketing campaign for their burgers. All their hard work was presented to a panel of four judges for scrutiny and questioning in the style of “The Apprentice meets The Great British Bake Off”.  There were several imaginative recipes and adverts, with the winning team producing a “Dragon Burger” a nicely balanced chilli burger and the strapline “It’s too good for this world!”. Other recipes included additional ingredients such as turmeric, cheese and wild garlic. Thank you to all of the S2 pupils for their hard work, the judges – Jo Munro from the Frigate Café in Ullapool, Ullapool High School parent Sue Pomeroy and CALLP’s Laura Traynor and Vickii Campen. Thank you also to Greenlees Butchers in Lochinver who supplied the venison mince for the food challenge and the burgers for the barbecue on the

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Warmer, warmer, colder… GPS training for habitat condition monitoring

On a soggy and breezy Thursday and Friday in December we ran GPS training workshops for people involved with deer management who need to undertake habitat condition monitoring as part of the area’s deer management plans. Data will be gathered over a number of years, on two habitat types: blanket bog and dwarf shrub heath, to assess the impact deer browsing is having. This data can then be used in conjunction with count data and other factors to help set population targets for the areas. All this has the ultimate aim of creating a healthy habitat that supports all species living within it. GPS trackers are used for setting up the monitoring plots and to find the same plot in following years to measure the change in condition. GPS is used to give a grid reference for mapping where the monitor plots are and this grid reference is what guides the person doing the monitoring back to the same spot. A marker stake is left in the ground at the site of the monitor plot but as the stake shouldn’t

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Coordinator required for Habitat Monitoring Programme

Habitat Monitoring Programme Coordinator (£2,500) We are looking to appoint a Programme Coordinator to organise and administer the Habitat Monitoring programme within the Deer Management project as part of the CALL Partnership over the next 12 months. The Coordinator will be responsible for liaising with landowners, land managers, contractors and others involved in deer management in the CALL and wider West Sutherland Deer Management Group area to arrange the following: habitat monitoring training, GPS Training, putting together and distributing habitat monitoring packs for all participating estates, and helping to set up a system to display data from practical monitoring plots. Budget for Coordinator £2,500, inclusive of VAT if applicable and mileage. Additional budget is available for delivery of training and production costs relating to the habitat monitoring packs. The role is to be appointed on a part-time, self-employed basis and contract will be issued by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Contractors are expected to adhere to Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Standard Terms and Conditions for Suppliers, including holding appropriate insurance where applicable. The role is funded with thanks to players of the

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John Muir Trust blog on Hill to Grill

One of our helpers for the Outdoor and Woodland Learning project’s Hill to Grill programme this year was Quinag Conservation Officer Romany Garnett from the John Muir Trust. Here is her blog post about all the activities the Ullapool High School pupils got up to over several days learning where venison comes from. Read it here

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From Hill to Grill: Ullapool High School pupils meet their meat

Second year pupils from Ullapool High School spent two days on the hill with professional deer stalkers to learn about wild venison as part of the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership scheme’s (CALLP) Outdoor and Woodland Learning Project. Rangers and stalkers from the Assynt Foundation, John Muir Trust and Highland Council Ranger Service taught the pupils tracking techniques to allow them to get up close to red deer – the UK’s largest land mammal. They learned how to navigate across rough and uneven terrain, identify tracks, and how to avoid being sensed. They were also shown recently culled deer and given a lesson on butchering methods out on the hill. The deer were then transported to Glencanisp Lodge where the pupils learned more about butchery and got a taste of barbequed venison, ahead of a focused cooking session at Ullapool High School where the pupils made a selection of dishes including meatballs, chilli and cottage pie. CALLP Education Manager Fiona Saywell said: “Many people’s only experience of meat is plastic wrapped products that are indistinguishable from the animal they

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Primary 7 Go Wild!

Since April, Primary 7 pupils from Lochinver, Stoer, Achiltibuie and Ullapool have been part of an exciting transition project ‘Discovering Wild Places’. It has given the pupils the opportunity to work together to discover, explore and conserve wild spaces, and share their experiences, fulfilling all elements of the Discover level of the John Muir Award, before they head into S1 at Ullapool High School. Pupils have experienced mountain, woodland, and freshwater environments over the last few months…. Back in the hailstones of April, pupils braved the cold to visit the base of Quinag to carry out heather monitoring in a mountain environment. © S Pease Fortunately the sun shone when they completed important tree seedling sampling in Culag Woods later in the month. Pupils learned how to take GPS coordinates and tag seedlings so the same trees can be sampled by next years’ P7s to monitor the effects of deer. © S Pease Wildflower identification and tree measurements were on the menu when pupils visited Little Assynt Estate in May. They also got hands on experience with tree seedlings at Little

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