The end of August marks the beginning of the final month of our placement as Assistant Rangers at Loch of the Lowes. Recently, we’ve been carrying out a beaver impact assessment around the shore of the Loch of Lowes in order to monitor the effects that they are having on the vegetation. While willow appears to be a favoured species, the beavers have also been felling plenty of sycamore, a non-native species that we have been busy cutting down ourselves on the Tummel Shingle Islands reserve! It has been really interesting learning about these amazing animals and we’ve had some brilliant sightings at our beaver watch evenings.
One of my favourite parts of being an Assistant Ranger has been working on the Keltneyburn Meadow Reserve. Earlier in the season we were involved in monitoring the orchids on the meadow, including the small white orchid, greater butterfly orchid and twayblade. Over the next couple of weeks we will be checking and fixing fencing to make the reserve ready for livestock. Grazing will help to keep on top of the bracken and scrub, ensuring that the meadow continues to support a diverse range of flowering plants.
Up the road at the community owned reserve, Dun Coillich, overgrazing by deer is limiting the regeneration of woodland. Here, we’ve been helping to build a deer exclosure to protect planted trees from grazing. It’s a beautiful reserve and while working we saw hen harrier, scotch argus and dark green fritillaries.
As well as gaining practical skills like fence building and invasive species control, we’ve also been working on our species identification skills and recently attended a bumblebee identification course. A few weeks later, on a day off I was very excited to spot a bilberry bumblebee when I was out for a walk. This attractive bumblebee is one of our scarcer species having declined due to pressures including climate change and habitat loss.
Looking back over the past two months, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot. The work here has been very varied and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks!
Kate Blomfield, Assistant Ranger