After the two previous years of lock downs 2022 allowed things to return to normality of sorts, including a full year of volunteer work parties and our first face to face AGM and social for two years, which had full attendance.
A big focus for the year was ensuring that a full programme of path maintenance work was carried out. A combination of Friends of Nevis funding for monthly path maintenance checks by a contractor in the first half of the year, coupled with volunteer work parties (both local and visiting) and lots of support from the 2022 seasonal Nevis Ranger team in the summer ensured that the main section of the Ben Path had at least 3 complete maintenance runs and some sections more. In addition the Allt a Mhuilinn path, Paddies Bridge to Lower Falls path, Steall path, All Ability path and associated Link Paths all received attention as well.
The annual Spring and Autumn Litter Picks in the Glen were also successful with a good turn out for the Autumn event and volunteers teamed up with the Nevis Rangers to carry out Bracken Bashing in the larger 'Future Forests' tree planting exclosure near Steal car park.
Finally volunteers, members and supporters turned out in good numbers to support the Friends of Nevis AGM in early November where Joy and Paul Biggin were both warmly thanked for their long term hard work and commitment in their respective roles of Chair of Trustees and Membership Secretary. Claire McLeod took up the reins as the new Chair of Trustees and she is joined by new Trustees Ali Stewart and Heather Thomson.
A big thankyou then to all of you who ventured out to help as volunteers on work parties or who committed their time and efforts as Trustees or who helped in the background with our social media, as well as everyone who supported Friends of Nevis as members.
Looking ahead to 2023
In early January the trustees will be meeting with Rory Stewart to decide on the Volunteer and engagement calendar for 2023, in addition Kirsty and her fellow Bird Ringer John will be setting some dates for Bird Ringing. Once these are decided they will be posted here and also advertised on the Nevis Landscape Partnership website and associated Eventbrite site.
For the past 5 years Friends of Nevis have supported a bird ringing survey at the Contemplation Woodland adjacent to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. Ringing is carried out by locally based licenced ringers John Owen and Friends of Nevis Trustee Kirstie Ross, both of whom have undergone extensive training and have many years’ experience. The ringing involves using specialist mist nets to catch the birds in a safe manner, allowing ringers to determining species, age, sex, take key measurements, then fit them with harmless lightweight number coded rings. Fitting the birds with rings means that if they are re-caught in subsequent surveys or otherwise recovered, information about their movement, lifespans etc can be determined. On a national level the data is collated and provides vital information regards species distribution, population numbers, productivity, longevity, ranges, and movement. Birds are vital components of biodiversity and changes to numbers, species distribution and bird movement can give important information, for example regards effects of habitat change and climate change.
The following information on birds caught and ringed in Glen Nevis has been kindly provided by ringer, volunteer and FoN Trustee Kirstie. From 2018 to October 2022 the team ringed 1393 new birds and re-caught 263 birds. There have been 27 different species caught, varying from tiny Goldcrest to larger birds such as Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon and Common Gull. Chaffinch, Siskin, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Great Tit are the top 5 most common species caught.
In 2022 around 420 new birds and 100 re-caught birds have been recorded. Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Robin were re-caught in 2022, which had previously been ringed in 2018 making them at least 4 years old. One Tree creeper which was ringed in 2019 making it at least 3 years old.
More local woodland species: (Left) Treecreeper and (Right) male Greater Spotted Woodpecker
On the last ringing session for 2022, a chilly but sunny Saturday 10th December, around 60 new birds were caught and roughly 25 retraps.
There was a big influx of Blackbirds (15+), some with long wings suggesting possibly they were migratory birds from Scandinavia. Highlight bird of the day was a Redwing (from it's markings and wing length it was from the Scandinavian population rather than Icelandic). There were also 3 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers including one ringed previously.
In the UK ringing has been taking place for over 100 years and currently the British and Irish Ringing Scheme is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Over 900,000 birds are ringed in Britain and Ireland each year by over 2,600 trained ringers, most of whom are volunteers. If you are interested in learning more pop over to the BTO website: https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/ringing/about
Ring recoveries can be reported to https://app.bto.org/euring/lang/pages/rings.jsp
At the time of writing Avian Flu is still affecting bird populations in Scotland, in particular seabirds, please see this notice from NatureScot regards health risks from handling sick or dead birds: https://www.nature.scot/doc/avian-influenza-bird-flu
Nevis Panorama and Volunteer Path Worker. Photo credit Ellie Moore.
Injury, new commitments and a no show whittled the volunteer team for our final work party of 2022 down to two, but they proved to be the perfect pair! Ellie and Katie, both experienced ex Nevis Seasonal Rangers, needed no introduction to the task in hand and immediately got stuck in. Using an efficient rolling leapfrog technique the pair helped Participation Officer Rory swiftly clear the initial section of the Ben Nevis Mountain Path from Achintee and down the link path to the Youth Hostel bridge. Cross drains and side ditches were cleared and some remedial work on ditching on the descent to the Youth Hostel Bridge was carried out as well. A great finish to 2022!
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