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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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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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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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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.

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Raffin: Part Three

August’s monthly volunteer day took place last week, a joint effort with the John Muir Trust Volunteers. The aim: to tackle the next bay south from Raffin. Unfortunately, it was a little walk in from an available car parking place, but this didn’t deter the JMTers, and off they went to search for the next lot of marine waste to take off the beach. The weather was damp to say the least, but we were all wrapped up in waterproofs and, as I am sure you will agree, they did a stellar effort in retrieving the washed in rubbish. As always, alongside collecting the litter we are looking out for washed in birds or sea creatures but also the mermaid’s purses! Last time we found 4 in total, 2 large Flapper Skate cases and 2 Catfish cases. This time 4 again but 3 Flapper Skate cases and 1 Catfish. Recordings of these get reported to Assynt Field Club. As far as I understand the Flapper Skate cases have only been found along the Raffin coast within CALL. Once we had

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A Return to Raffin

June’s monthly volunteer day was held at Raffin Beach, caring out a second beach clean on the first strip of the beach and moving onto the second. The John Muir Trust run working holidays, and this was the week they were up in Coigach and Assynt, all 10 of them joining the CALL volunteers to help clean the beach. It was an absolutely beautiful day. When we stopped for lunch it was hard to get going again and not just bathe in the sunshine! Despite the temptation, the volunteers carried on all day, collecting 250kg of bagged rubbish plus a lot of large plastic items and even a tyre. An amazing effort and so happy that we managed to get to the next stretch of beach. Our previous clean was 8 months ago and thankfully the rubbish had not returned to the state of before. Alongside collecting marine litter, we were also keeping our eyes open for any birds or creatures that had been washed in or any mermaid’s purses, the capsules made by Skates and Catfish for their young.

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Tree-mendous Volunteers

Today (20th May) we held a volunteer day at Little Assynt Tree Nursery. For those of you unfamiliar with the nursery, they grow all locally sourced seeds collected by Nick and Susan (our amazing nursery team) and volunteers to produce thousands of trees for local planting projects including our Woodland Planting Project. Tasks for the volunteers today included pricking out seedling Bird Cherries (Prunus padus) and putting them into cells to allow room for further growth and weeding those already in cells to start them on the journey to being ready for planting out on project sites. This included Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Birch (Betula pubescens) and Rowan (Sorbus acuparia). Thanks you to those that came along and battled the midges! Our next volunteer day is the 23rd may at Glencanisp Lodge, carrying out some path maintenance and species recording along the Glencanisp Nature Trail. For more details on our tree nursery please follow the link: https://coigach-assynt.org/little-assynt-tree-nursery/

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Spring Clean Take 2: April Volunteer Day

As I arrived on site the heavens opened, ‘another wet beach clean’ I thought. I was wrong. By 11am the sun pushed through as volunteers started to arrive. We were all soon removing all the waterproof layers as it turned into a glorious day. We concentrated on the sandy straight of the Bay of Stoer shoreline between the rocky outcrops; Clachtoll Broch to the left and Stac Fada to the right. The beach started off quite colourful with small pieces of rope, plastic, twine and fishing line. By the end of the event we had removed 18.5 Kilos of rubbish from the beach! A fantastic amount. We all retired to the bench for well-deserved rest and biscuits when a few divers caught our eye. We scurried to get binoculars and scopes out and found that the bay was in fact full of diving birds of all types. To top it off a pair of White-Tailed Eagles flew over, being mobbed by a Raven and a Hooded Crow. A list of all the species seen in the bay are listed below.

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A Spring Clean for Culag Wood’s Beaches

This week we held a beach clean at Culag Woods, concentrating on the two beaches north of the White Shore. Although it had been beautiful sunshine all week, the grey skies didn’t stop our volunteers from doing a wonderful job. In just 2 hours we managed to clean two beaches of 10kilos of small pieces of fishing rope, twine and fishing line. Good eyes where a must on these beaches. Unlike previous beach cleans there where hardly any large items to clean. Residents and visitors of Lochinver do a brilliant job at removing larger items when they wash in. There are also boxes located at the two northern beaches that marine waste can be put in to be collected at a later date. So, on Thursday, we concentrated on smaller items tangled in the seaweed, searching through the layers to find the brightly coloured plastic lines. A massive thank you to those who came along to help me and to those who regularly remove litter from Culag Woods or any beach. The next volunteer event will be held on the

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