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Summer in the Cairngorms

Summer is a busy time for nature. Up and down the Strath, all manner of living things are making the most of the long days to grow, thrive, and produce new generations for summers to come. Cairngorms Connect Volunteer, Ewan Craig, investigates what's happening in the Partnership Area this August. 

Dazzling dragonflies in vibrant reds and blues, glittering greens and golds, dart over the Uath Lochans. Brilliant butterflies flutter across Invertromie Meadows and dance through woodland glades in Glen Feshie, colours blinking on and off in the sun. Some of the rarest flowers in the UK bloom high on the mountain plateau and deep in the ancient woodlands of Abernethy, small and delicate and perfectly beautiful. And across the landscape, in the shelter of a granny pine or hidden away amongst the lush vegetation, birds of all sizes have been raising families of hungry, demanding chicks.

51049363356_2a45ec4241_kImage: Twinflower, a rare and delicate woodland plant. credit: scotlandbigpicture.com

We are so fortunate living here to have such diversity and abundance on our doorsteps. A guided walk with one of the experts at RSPB Loch Garten (5th and 19th August) or RSPB Insh Marshes (11th August) is a great way to discover more.

Summer is also a busy time for the Cairngorms Connect staff and partners. Our ranger teams are a friendly, welcoming face at visitor hot spots. They help everyone enjoy these special places and work together to keep them special.

This year for the first time, RSPB Abernethy have two Seasonal Mountain Rangers. Jim and Dave have been out chatting to hillgoers about the magnificent landscape of the Cairngorm plateau, and how to protect this fragile environment. If you meet them up on the mountain, do say hello!

IMG_20210721_075447538_HDRImage: This magnificent landscape of Loch A'an, behind the Cairngorm Plateau. Credit: Ewan Craig

This is also the peak time for our science and monitoring staff to be out conducting important surveys. These give crucial evidence for the progress and success of our work. This can involve working unusual hours, counting birds at dawn or camping out in the hills overnight to set up a light trap to catch and count moths.

We have been comparing ways to encourage more young tree seedlings to grow.  Trees are pretty good at seeding and growing themselves, but some of the natural processes that help them spread are missing from the landscape. If we can replicate these, this will speed up the recovery of our missing woodlands. Cairngorms Connect is at the forefront of the new science of restoration ecology and the evidence we collect is vital for attracting funding and investment to support local jobs. It will demonstrate to us the progress we are making toward our 200-year vision of a thriving, restored landscape. It will allow others to learn from this landscape,  as we collectively fight to tackle the breakdown and loss of our shared natural heritage.

The sad truth is that the diversity and abundance of nature we have here in the Cairngorms is only a fraction of what we have lost. South west Norway has a similar climate, similar geology, and similar range of species to us. Yet it looks very different: more wooded, more diverse, more colourful. There are more flowers, more insects, more birds. Red deer, though much fewer in number, are bigger and healthier, with sleek shining coats and massive antlers, producing more calves. We have had a team out in Norway this summer, studying the habitat, to understand the differences and build up a picture of where we may end up in 200 years time.

20220607_094752Image: Montane scrub at 900m above sea level in in South west Norway. Credit: A. Philip. 

The good news is that nature has an incredible capacity to recover. We are only giving it a helping hand. Our lives depend on it, in ways big and small, and it gives us so much. So can we give to the land, and live within an equal partnership?  Our vision is  one of thriving nature and thriving communities that intertwine and share in mutual benefits.

 

To find out more and get involved click here, or pop by the visitor centre at RSPB Loch Garten or Glenmore Forest Park

 

Main image: Fragrant orchid, Tromie Meadow. credit scotlandbigpicture.com 

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Summer is a busy time for nature. Up and down the Strath, all manner of living things are making the most of the long days to grow, thrive, and produce new generations for summers to come. Cairngorms Connect Volunteer, Ewan Craig, investigates what's happening in the Partnership Area this August. 

Jul 8, 2022

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