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Old oak

Large oak tree, with its branches covered in lichens, on Dundreggan.

 

Beetle-collecting

Richard Lyszkowski collecting beetle specimens from a tree during his survey on Dundreggan.

 

Mating bee beetles

Mating bee beetles (Trichius fasciatus) on the flower of a creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) on Dundreggan.

 

Ants and luckless beetle

Wood ants (Formica lugubris) dragging a click beetle (Athous haemorrhoidalis) back to their nest on Dundreggan.

 

Mark and dwarf birch

Mark Richards with a dwarf birch plant on Dundreggan. Photo by Mark Richards.

 

foxglove

Flower bud of a foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) about to open in early summer on Dundreggan.

Dundreggan

Dundreggan News - August 2008

We have found more notable species, the management plan is complete, and the purchase has finally taken place!

Thank you for such a tremendous response to our appeal!

I was deeply touched and moved by the phenomenal response we received to the appeal sent with the last edition of Caledonia Wild!, for funds to make up the shortfall for the purchase of Dundreggan Lodge. There was great excitement and much appreciation in our office every day in the weeks following the appeal, as we opened letter after letter to find cheques and credit card payments inside them. Hundreds of members and supporters sent in donations totalling over £37,600, while larger contributions were made by James Pirrie, Honor Mackenzie, Duncan Ford, Geoff and Lisa Sharp, Anton Musset, the William Record Charitable Trust and the Audrey and JJ Martindale Foundation. Our sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone who responded so generously to our appeal, and particularly to Simon Gershon, whose support is crucial in enabling the Lodge to be purchased at the same time as the rest of the Estate, and in giving us enough time to raise the balance of funds needed for it.

This success has enabled us to move forward with our plans and we have recently submitted a planning application for a Change of Use for the Lodge, to enable us to use it as accommodation for our volunteer Conservation Holiday groups. We plan to convert the outbuilding at the back of the Lodge into an office, and we will also have to carry out building work to meet the more stringent fire regulations and disabled access requirements that are now applicable. The work itself will be carried out this autumn, so that the building is ready for the programme of Dundreggan-based Conservation Holidays that we’re planning for next spring onwards.

Surveys and biodiversity discoveries

This year we have fewer biodiversity surveys taking place, because of less funding being available, but the beetle survey that was begun last year by Richard Lyszkowski, an entomologist specialising in Coleoptera (as beetles are known in scientific terms), has been continuing. I’ve been out with Richard recently on several of his survey days, when he has been using techniques such as sweep nets to catch beetles on the ground vegetation and pitfall traps set up near features of particular interest in terms of beetles. These include wood ant nests (over 20 species of beetles are associated with wood ants in Scotland) and the carcass of a red deer, which provides a food source for a myriad assortment of beetles, as well as numerous fly species.

Jane Bowman

Jane Bowman.
 

Female moth

The wingless female Rannoch brindled beauty does not look like a moth at all!
 

Male moth

The male Rannoch brindled beauty is more conventional-looking.
 

Moths mating

Here a pair are mating on a fence post.
 

Moth laying eggs

Female laying her eggs on a fence post.
 

Moth photos by Jane Bowman.

Richard’s work in 2007 resulted in the identification of over 230 species of beetles on Dundreggan, and he expects that this figure will increase substantially when he has finished cataloguing all the species from this year’s survey. Many of the beetles are very small indeed and need to be observed under a microscope to determine their identity to the level of species, so it is time-consuming and meticulous work.

During my days out with Richard I’ve been impressed both with his knowledge, and with his ability to spot beetles, even of the smallest size, from a considerable distance away. It’s also fascinating to learn about the different groups of beetles, such as, for example, those that are associated with the blossoms of various trees, those which are found with the fruiting bodies of fungi during the autumn mushroom season, and the aquatic beetles that spend their lives in freshwater bodies, such as lochans and small streams.

In late June, during one of his survey visits to Dundreggan, Richard made a significant discovery on the Estate, not of a beetle, however, but of a rare horsefly – the golden horsefly (Atylotus fulvus). This species had only been seen once in Scotland since 1923 until Jane Bowman found it further west in Glen Moriston earlier in July this year, and Richard’s discovery of it on Dundreggan confirms that there must be a healthy population in the glen. The presence of this horsefly on the Estate, together with that of the rare mining bee (Andrena marginata) found by Jane last year, emphasises both the biological significance of Dundreggan and the importance of carrying out these surveys to identify the biological diversity there.

Meanwhile, as Mick reports on page 3 of this edition of Caledonia Wild!, Mark Richards is doing further survey work on the distribution of dwarf birch (Betula nana) on Dundreggan, as part of his 3 month contract for our montane scrub project this summer. Our management plan for the Estate highlights three areas where good populations of dwarf birch occur, and where we’re planning to implement protection measures to facilitate their successful growth and natural development of the montane scrub vegetation community. Mark is surveying these areas in more detail, so that we can site fences in the optimum locations to benefit both the dwarf birch and the other species that occur there. As we go to press, Mark is still out in the hills, and in a recent message he said “The work has been going well. I am finding some very good dwarf birch areas as well as more eared and creeping willow than I expected”.

The Rannoch brindled beauty moth

Jane Bowman is a Glen Moriston resident and near neighbour of Dundreggan who spends a lot of time walking on the Estate and provides much invaluable help in finding and identifying insects there. Her interest began initially with moths, but has subsequently expanded to include beetles, hoverflies and other insects. Jane is also a good photographer, and this spring she was able to document an interesting moth on Dundreggan – the Rannoch brindled beauty (Lycia lapponaria). This is a Nationally Notable species that is listed in the Red Data Book for the UK, and it is unusual because the female moth is wingless. The species is restricted in Britain to the central Highlands of Scotland, where it lives on damp moorlands and the caterpillars feed on plants such as bog myrtle (Myrica gale) and heather (Calluna vulgaris). During the day, individuals are often found resting on old fence posts, and that’s where Jane took these images.

Moths - related pages

Management Plan completed for the Estate

National Lottery

After 9 months of work by Colin Blyth, whom we took on in the role of Project Planning Officer with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Management Plan for Dundreggan was completed in May and approved by the Trees for Life Board of Directors. It is a substantial piece of work (our thanks to Colin for doing an excellent job!), and it outlines a vision for how we’d like to see the Estate be in 50 years time. It includes long term aims for the next 25 years and detailed prescriptions for the first 5 years of work. Key elements of the work planned for the first 5 year period include:

  1. Measures to achieve natural regeneration of the existing ancient woodland without the use of fencing
  2. The utilisation of wild boar in exclosures to reduce the preponderance of bracken in the woodland
  3. The establishment of more riparian woodland, including aspen trees, in parts of the area beside the River Moriston
  4. A reduction in deer numbers to bring their population more in balance with the recovery of the vegetation communities on the Estate
  5. Protection of three key areas where dwarf birch is abundant in the north of the Estate
  6. Establishment of three fenced exclosures where native trees will be planted
  7. Conversion and restoration back to native forest of the existing commercial tree plantation on the Estate
  8. Provision of visitor access facilities, including a small car park, interpretative display boards and Nature trails in the ancient birch-juniper woodland

The Management Plan also forms a key part of our application to the HLF for significant funding over the 5 year period to implement the practical work detailed in it. That application is currently being evaluated, and we expect to receive a decision from the HLF by the end of September. Please join us in holding the vision that we get approval then!

Alan Watson Featherstone
 


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