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!
November continued to be a busy month with a number of Friends of Nevis events taking place following on from the AGM at the start of the month. Dougie led an accredited Footpath Awareness day on the 14th of November which was attended by our new trio of Trainee Volunteer Rangers, some local Mountain Leaders, Nevis Partnership's Fundraising Manager and her partner. The walk up the Allt a Mhuillin path took place in excellent weather to see drains and ditches working (i.e. lashing down with rain!!) Some of the discussion on the day also looked at ways of informing walkers about the work done on paths and funded by donations in the cairns.
The Autumn litter pick and curling ponds clear up on the 18th was very well attended with 33 volunteers turning up on the day. Calum Ross kindly organised a chipper to reduce some of the piles of brash left over from thinning out vegetation regrowth at the curling ponds. The day was also an opportunity for three brand new TVR's (Eilidh, Jen and Cormac) to meet Friends of Nevis in person. They were duly detailed to the river banks and cleared up a mass of litter upstream of Nevis Bridge. The Ben Nevis Highland Centre hosted the coffee / shortbread briefing in the morning. FoN really appreciates their support, since FoN began the Litter Picks 10 years ago.
As always great organisation and preparation from Joy, Fiona Wild and Hughie, thanks also to Paul Biggin for his help collecting bags of rubbish at the end of the day and taking it to recycling.
BTO licenced bird ringer John Owen continues to run drop in ringing events at the Visitor Centre aided by FoN trainee ringer Kirstie and Skye based trainee ringer Jonathon. On Sunday 25th November they had 178 captures, 139 new and 39 retraps (numbers in brackets, birds that had been previously ringed on other occasions) The birds ringed included Coat tits 24 (16), Blue tits 28 (8), Great tits 26 (7), Chaffinch 36, Robin 8 (3), Black birds 6, Long tailed tits 3 (1), Dunnock 1 (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Siskin 5, Goldfinch 2 (1), Treecreeper (1).
December Dates for Your Diary
Bird Ringing in Glen Nevis +(Visitor Centre Contemplation Area)
BTO Bird Ringer John Owen and Trainee Ringer Kirstie Ross made good use of a short spell of settled weather and put up their mist nets on the chilly but dry morning of Saturday 27th October.
They recorded 61 new birds caught and 5 re-traps of birds that had been ringed on previous occasions. Birds caught varied from our smallest song bird, the Goldcrest, to Blackbird. 2 new species were recorded for the site on this occasion, Goldcrest and Wren (pictured left, expertly held by John Owen.) More ringing sessions to follow, keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for details.
Sights in the Glen
The low angle sunlight picks out the autumn colours at this time of the year and can make for some stunning scenery
Its a good time of year also to look for species that are normally hidden by the leaves and vegetation.
Graphidion 'Script' Lichens on smooth Hazel stems growing near Lower Falls in the glen.
Glue Crust fungus on a Hazel stem, near Lower Falls. This fungus amazingly keeps dead twigs for itself by gluing them to living branches, therefore preventing them falling to the ground. It is parasitized by the much rarer fungus, Hypocreopsis rhododendri, also known as Hazel Gloves. These look like nature bright orange rubber gloves and are a priority UK BAP species, its stronghold being the Atlantic Hazlewoods of the west coast of Scotland. Keep your eyes peeled!
Footpath Work Party
Dougie and a team of volunteers build a new cross drain on the Lower Falls to Paddy's Bridge path as part of a footpath work party on 2nd November. Interestingly some of the granite blocks that were selected for treadstones showed signs of previous drilling and quarrying, probably from a small granite outcrop above the path. It wasn't immediately obvious what this previous quarrying was for or how long ago it happened.
2018 Friends of Nevis AGM
There was a great turn out for the AGM on Friday 2nd November, with around 50 people attending. The evening started with reports from Friends of Nevis office bearers Joy and Stephen, followed by the announcement of the 'Volunteer of the Year' award recipient. I cant reveal their name at present as they weren't in attendance so they might not know yet!
Adam Pinder, Head Fundraiser for The John Muir Trust, gave a talk about the work of the Trust, some of its challenges and some of its more recent developments: for example Glen Lude in the Borders and Helvellyn in the Lake District.
The Glen Nevis Restaurant provided a bounteous buffet and afterwards there was time for everyone to catch up and have a good blether.
For the Diary
For full details of these events please go to the Events Page or get in touch
Curling Ponds Clear Up
Summer has slipped into autumn and first on the list of Conservation Work Parties this September was a tidy up of the Curling Ponds area at the entrance to the Glen. Helen and Steve from Kent journeyed up to join locals Joy, Ali and Hughie and NLP staff Dougie, Rowan and Rory for a day of cutting back alder and sycamore growth and removing rubbish. Soil and vegetation was piled up to mulch on some of the spots that had become informal camp spots to deter future car boot campers.
Hughie unearthed a set of stairs that probably haven't seen the light of day for 30 years and later looked like he was practicing for the next Bon Spiel! (Watch this space for details of the next Curling Event!)
Celebrating the Wild Festival
Despite wet and windy weather the Celebrating the Wild Festival was a great success and the Friends of Nevis stands were particularly busy. Few young people managed to pass the stand without first being sent off on Kirtsy's Treasure Trail and having come back they then got stuck into Claire's pendant workshop using stones and pebbles sourced from all around the Highlands.
A host of partners from Nevis Partnership also generously supported by providing activities and resources. Abacus Mountain Guides and the Inside Out Club provided a crowd pulling Tyrolean across lower falls and other stands included the John Muir Trust Rangers clay sculpture, Highlife Highland Rangers all about bats, Resilient Roots foraged food cooking and Lochaber Fisheries Trust did some kick sampling in the river. Rowan from Nevis Landscape Partnership led tree planting excursions and the local scouts oversaw car parking. Cormac came and gave us some music. Iona from Nevis Landscape Partnership did a fantastic job organising the event, volunteers and running face painting.
Dates for the diary
What a cracking summer season! Plenty has been going on in the Glen and further afield. For example, we had another successful drop in bird ringing event at the Glen Nevis visitor centre led by BTO ringer John Owen who was aided by two trainees (including FoN stalwart Kirstie) and Trainee Volunteer Ranger Jake who holds a 'C' permit. 154 new birds were ringed along with several retraps and controls recorded. Birds included Siskins, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Wood Pigeon, Blackcap, Blackbird, Coal Tit and Robin. The ongoing effort at this site is starting to produce some good data. The next event is on Sunday 26th August, hopefully the weather gods will be kind!
Local Botanist Dr Ian Strachan led a well attended botanical foray to Bohuntine to visit the hay meadows. We learned how traditionally managed hay meadows support a rich flora but have suffered a massive decline due to modern meadow management and silage production. Over 50 plant species were identified in the field including some fine orchid examples such as Heath Spotted, Heath Fragrant, Greater and Lesser Butterfly, Northern Marsh Orchid and some suspected Dactylorhiza hybrids.
Back at An Drochaid we were treated to a bumper Moth Morning in July by Tom Prescott from Butterfly Conservation. About 100 species were identified including Burnished Brass, Antler Moth, True Lovers Knot, Large Emerald and Drinker (shown below)
Up the Ben and in the Glen pathwork, bracken bashing and tree planting have been happening, led by Dougie and Rowan from Nevis Landscape Partnership and ably assisted by summer Trainee Volunteer Rangers Jake, Chris, Scott, Dave, Andy and Cameron. To date almost 9,000 trees have been planted and 11 kilometres of pathwork completed by Nevis Landscape Partnership and Friends of Nevis work parties. We still have in the region of 4,000 trees to plant and plenty more work to do on the Ben paths so come along and sign up for one of our conservation or footpath work parties to do your bit! As always the craic is great, plentiful chocolate biscuits and tea provided.
Friends of Nevis member Ali Stewart shows how its done below!
Photos and post by Rory Stewart, Friends of Nevis & Nevis Landscape Partnership Volunteer Coordinator.
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