St Andrews day dawned bright and very chilly but 4 hardy volunteers, Elizabeth; Ali; Damien and Giles turned up to help Rory plant some more Scots Pine and some native Holly in one of our Glen Nevis Future Forests exclosures. Despite the frosty weather the soil was not frozen and around 100 Scots Pine and 15 Holly were planted. The ground in the exclosure was steep and bouldery so finding a spot with deep enough soil was a challenge at times.
Looking around however we could see remnant veteran and ancient Scots Pine still clinging on the steeper terrain and crags in the glen. These are 'Granny Pines' that supplied the seed for our pine seedlings. At one time these trees would have been more widespread but a mixture of historic felling for timber and charcoal combined with continued grazing pressure from deer and sheep has suppressed regeneration. The Scots Pine woodland is listed as a feature of the Nevis Special Area of Conservation / SSSI and is classed as being in 'unfavourable' condition, in part due to the lack of regeneration.
As well as being an important part of the management plan for improving the condition of the Pinewood, planting the right trees, in the right place, is now being recognized as one of the tools of fighting back against climate change.
December dates for the Diary
Wednesday 11th December: Toolshed day, Mattocks and Mince Pies. Drop in and help with an end of season tools clean up, service and tlc. Festive treats supplied.
Sunday 15th December: Bird Ringing at Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, drop in event from around 9am to 3pm. Drop in to see our feathered friends close up and chat to John and Kirstie, BTO licensed bird ringers.
Annual General Meeting
November got off to a good start with the AGM being held on Friday 1st. There was a good turn out and reports were heard from directors Joy (Chair) and Stephen (Treasurer). Kirstie Ross also gave an account of Bird Ringing results. Kirsty has been training to be a BTO licenced Bird Ringer and this year gained her C licence. She gave an interesting account of ringing results to date and also where birds initially ringed in Glen Nevis have been recovered.
Star attraction was local climber Helen Rennard talking about her Scottish Winter exploits. Always down to earth and often very amusing, Helen's accounts of her climbing included a winter traverse of the Ramsay round within 24 hours, ascents of some of the hardest Scottish mixed winter routes in the area and......a missing hamster. Her ability to interweave the story of the latter into a climbing context was a feat in itself!
Helen is the subject of one of the 'Nevis Faces', a series of documentary films shot by Dave and Claire MacLeod, see the YouTube clip inserted below:
Autumn Litter Pick
Friends of Nevis held its Autumn Litter Pick and Curling Ponds tidy up on Sunday 17th November. A big thankyou to all the many volunteers who took part, it was great to have so many helpers of all ages, some who had come a long way for the event. A special thanks too go to Fiona McSorland , Joy, Paul, and Hughie who organised the day.
Litter was cleared from as much of the Glen as possible. This included a large amount of camping equipment, which had been abandoned after use. Sadly this is becoming an increasing problem in the Glen and at other sites in the Highlands. With help from two members of the Curling Club, the Ponds area was tidied, leaves raked up and the main Pond prepared for possible winter use. FoN wants to thank the Ben Nevis Highland Centre, who once again hosted the start of the event.
Lunchtime gathering of Litter Pickers below
Upcoming events for November & December
Go to our events page to sign up for upcoming events in November, December and events for next year
Saturday 30th November Tree Planting in Glen Nevis
Saturday 7th December Birch Halo Thinning in Scots Pine Exclosure
Wednesday 11th December Christmas Tool Clean and Festive Munchies
The curling pond is looking much better after a group of 10 volunteers did their bit.
Hughie made an interesting discovery today at the curling pond. Is it a cannon ball?
Friends of Nevis volunteer Ali Stewart has nominated one of the Future Forest's Scots pine in Glen Nevis for the Woodland Trust's annual Tree of the Year competition. The story behind the tree is great: the seed gathered from veteran Scots pine growing on the crags of the south side of the glen, then sown and raised by local groups and planted by school pupils from Fort William. Who knows what its life will see and hold.
Please go to the site below to support our tree or search for Tree of the Year Scotland 2019.
Friends of Nevis volunteer with our Tree of the Year nomination
Upcoming events for the diary
For more details go to the Events page
(Dates all subject to weather conditions)
Patrick and Lindsay Nevis at Dun Deardail hill fort
Patrick and Lindsay Nevis who live in California, have supported Friends of Nevis for a number of years. They were visiting the Lochaber area this week and it was a great opportunity to meet up with them to say thank you for their support and show them around some of the projects that Friends of Nevis volunteers have worked on including footpaths, Future Forests and Dun Deardail. Hopefully they can recruit some more international Friends of Nevis when they return to America!
Over the last couple of years BTO licenced bird ringer John Owen has been running bird ringing events at Glen Nevis Visitor Centre. He has done this together with a group of trainee ringers, include Friends of Nevis Volunteer Kirstie Ross, who gained her C licence earlier this year, well done Kirstie! Kirstie has provided a summary of this year's work:
"We've managed ringing in February, March, May, July and August. Siskin and Chaffinch are the birds we ring the most.
The Siskin we are catching in Glen Nevis are proving to be exciting travellers. Two birds we caught that already had rings on them turned out to have travelled from Aberdeenshire and Callender. A male Siskin we ringed, travelled 606km (377 miles) all the way down to Thetford Norfolk where another ringing group caught it. We also caught a Coal Tit ringed in the Glen by another Bird ringer which is 3 years old. This is quite old for a little bird.
This year we've caught a few new species - Song Thrush, Common Gull, Pied Wagtail, Bullfinch and Willow Warbler.
Our August event was maybe a bit too hot, too sunny and probably too much natural food about as we only caught 19 new birds and retrapped 5 previously ringed birds. It was nice to see a Goldcrest and 2 Wrens as well as a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
Thank you to everyone who comes along and takes an interest. It's great for us to hear your bird watching stories."
Watch this space for dates for more ringing events running this year together with volunteer work parties
Sounds a bit extreme!!
Relax, its all in the name of conservation!!
Our first Friends of Nevis Conservation Work Party of the spring got under way today, focusing on bracken control around our planted trees in the 'Future Forests exclosures at Polldubh, aka 'bracken bashing'. The bracken fronds are young and pliable at this time of year which means they can often be removed by hand, without tools. Holly and Patrick, who were out volunteering in the Glen today show how its done, below.
What about the beating up?? Well a percentage of the trees planted in the exclosures last season will not have survived. Sadly that's a fact of life. Beating Up refers to replacement planting for these trees.
If you fancy a bit of beating up and bashing then book up for our next conservation work party on Saturday 1st of June when we will be working through the remaining exclosures in the Glen.
(You don't need to bring you boxing gloves.....)
Leading Lichenologist Andy Acton lead a very popular lichens workshop, with an introductory indoor session followed by a field trip to Glen Loy to look at some 'Atlantic rainforest' lichens (above) on oak, hazel and birch and also some rarer species on the veteran scots pine at Puiteachan.
The following weekend expert Bryologist Gordon Rothero ran another popular and fully booked workshop, this time looking at mosses and liverworts in Glen Nevis (below). This included a search in Samuels cave for a rare moss species, Schistostega pennata aka goblin gold due to its glowing appearance when lit up. No goblin gold was found but the cave proved to be a dry refuge for lunch after a fairly 'driech' morning.
The annual Friends of Nevis Spring Litter Pick, held at the end of April, had better luck with the weather. Over 20 Friends of Nevis regulars and a number of new 'friends' did a sterling job clearing litter throughout the glen. A big thanks to all who turned out and in particular Joy, Paul, Fiona and Hughie who organised the day.
As always check out our events page for details of upcoming work-parties and workshops.
Sadly, Conservation Officer Rowan Doff left NLP at the end of April. For the rest of the summer the conservation work parties will be led mostly by NLP Volunteer Coordinator Rory Stewart and also NLP Footpath Officer Dougie Sinclair.
Conservation tasks for the spring and summer will focus on bracken removal, beat up planting in existing exclosures, litter removal and tidying up around the Lower falls car park, some remedial work in an established 30 year old exclosure on the south side of the glen.
Fresh bracken growth in the glen
Dates for the diary
The Friends of Nevis 2019 season got off to a constructive start with a work party building a much needed stile over the deer fence on the west side of the Allt a Mhuilinn. Walkers and climbers descending from the ' Half Way Lochan' heading for either the North Face car park or the start of the Allt a Mhuilinn path can be faced with an intimidating river crossing at this point over the Allt a Mhuilinn in wet conditions. The stile means that there is now an alternative to follow the west bank down for a few hundred meters to pick up the vehicle track.
The existing fence had a large hole where people had been making their way through to avoid crossing the Allt a Mhuilinn so Dougie picked this as the spot for the stile which both provided a crossing point and also mended the hole in the fence. It was good having Friends of Nevis volunteer Calum Ross on hand to lend his Forestry expertise in getting large posts into the ground!
The finished job!!
Back in the Glen Rowan Doff, the Nevis Partnership conservation officer led the January Conservation Work Party doing battle with Rhododendron. Lever and Mulch, a technique that doesnt require the use of power tools, chemicals or burning was used. It also provides a 'green gym' workout!
Would you want to meet this team on a dark night??!
Before and during / after
Work parties and engagement events are arranged through until the end of March, please have a look at the events page. I'm currently working on events for the rest of the year, let me know if you have anything you would particularly like to see on the programme!
Friends of Nevis volunteer Ali Stewart had an unexpected surprise when she arrived for the December Footpath Workparty....she had been nominated as Friends of Nevis Volunteer of the Year and was duly presented with a well deserved prize and a speech from from Friends of Nevis Chair Joy Biggin, who highlighted the importance of the work that Friends of Nevis Volunteers do on the Ben and in the Glen.
The Friends of Nevis volunteer Year 2018 finished off with two well subscribed events, a pathwork day led by Dougie concentrating on the lower Ben Nevis mountain path and a Festive Felling event on Saturday 8th, removing non-native regeneration such as Sitka Spruce and Lodge Pole pine. Some of the trees removed were available at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre Christmas Crafts Day the following day for a small donation to the Lochaber Foodbank.
The final drop in event of the year will be a Bird Ringing event on Sunday 16th December, at the Visitor Centre.
Dates for volunteer events and workshops for the first quarter of 2019 will shortly be posted so watch this space!