In November I was lucky enough to spend a week volunteering at one of the Trust’s gorgeous wildlife reserves, Rahoy Hills. Managed by the Trust in partnership with Ardtornish Estate, this reserve covers 1,760 hectares, five miles north of Lochaline and close to the Isle of Mull.
Rahoy Hills is composed of numerous habitats, from grasslands, marshes and heaths to cliffs, lochans and woodlands. The week that I was there I was joined by three other volunteers from the European Voluntary Service (EVS), Elisabeth, Marta and Camille as well as Michelle Henley the Reserves Project Officer for the north of Scotland and Steve Hardy, the reserve ranger.
The tasks for our week of volunteering were varied, first of all we had to fix the footpath, repair stairs and posts that people are easily able to pass over a fence and follow the path. This tracks leads to an abandoned settlement from the 18th Century.
Passing next to Loch Arienas you can see Highland cattle grazing. Grazing management has an effect on the survival of many of the more vulnerable and protected plant species. At the right level, grazing by cattle can allow plant and insect species to thrive and native woodland to regenerate.
We also did some fence repairs. The woodland is protected by a deer fence in order to promote regeneration, growth and expansion. The deer population threatens the new generation of trees and therefore the fence is needed to keep the deer out.
One day, led by Steve we went to the top of Beinn na h-Uamha in order to count the deer population. Steve does this every month to see if the population increases or decreases and to determine the optimum number. After an hour and a half of hiking we reached the peak, where we were lucky enough to see a couple of golden eagles. Binoculars, telescope and a reserve map were our primary tools. The map was subdivided in areas and we were counting by the highest and farthest ones, finishing by the lowest and closest ones. The walk down through the moorland and woodland was spectacular.
I strongly recommend a visit to this unique reserve, which is full of diversity through its natural habitats and wildlife, as well as an interesting archaeological story.
By Aurélien Dumas-Roussel, European Voluntary Service Volunteer with Duncan Budge, Reserves Project Officer in Dundee
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In November I was lucky enough to spend a week volunteering at one of the Trust’s gorgeous wildlife reserves, Rahoy Hills. Managed by the Trust in partnership with Ardtornish Estate, …