Are we seeing a return of the humpback whale to Scottish waters?

Over the summer and autumn I’ve enjoyed the thrill of watching two humpback whales feeding and breaching off the Sands of Forvie National Nature Reserve in Aberdeenshire. Is this a one-off or are we seeing a wider population recovery in Scottish Waters?

A humpback breaching off the Sands of Forvie National Nature Reserve. © Ron Macdonald 2016

A humpback breaching off the Sands of Forvie National Nature Reserve. © Ron Macdonald 2016

Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, described the humpback as “the most gamesome and lighthearted of all the whales, making more gay foam and whitewater generally than any of them”. This, of course, made them more obvious to whalers and they were hunted to the brink of extinction for their meat and oil.  When finally, in 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling, the North Atlantic population had fallen from an estimated 112,000 to a few thousand individuals.  They were on the edge of local extinction, even though in the North Atlantic, they were protected since 1955.

What followed is one of the few ecological success stories in a world where the diversity of animal and plant species is in rapid decline and the rate of extinctions is higher than ever. In most areas, humpbacks have recovered to their pre-exploitation population size with annual increase rates of about 7-10% recorded off Australia, Southern Africa and South America. However, there is no evidence of recovery for populations in some areas such as off the Pacific islands, where there may be as few as 2,000 animals.

Humpback whales in the North Atlantic have similarly recovered and nowadays there’s an estimated 20,000.  The recovery has been strongest in the western North Atlantic whereas it’s less certain in the eastern North Atlantic. This includes UK waters.

Although the humpback is one of the most studied of whales, we still know relatively little of their habits.  The eastern North Atlantic population, which feeds largely in arctic waters off Norway and Iceland, is thought to migrate mainly to the Cape Verde islands with a few heading to the Caribbean breeding grounds, home to most humpbacks from the western North Atlantic.

A humpback feeding at the mouth of the Ythan estuary. ©Ron Macdonald 2016

A humpback feeding at the mouth of the Ythan estuary. © Ron Macdonald 2016

But in British Isles and Norway things are changing.  With the recovery of herring and mackerel stocks, humpbacks are now present both in summer and winter, competing with other whales and dolphins.

So what does this mean for Scotland?  The map below, produced by the Sea Watch Foundation, shows a peak in sightings in the last two years compared to previous years.

Map of humpback whale sightings in Scotland, 2015-16. (Source: Sea Watch Foundation database)

Map of humpback whale sightings in Scotland, 2015-16. (Source: Sea Watch Foundation database)

Humpback whales are not common in British waters, but are increasingly seen off the west coast of Ireland and in northern Scotland in summer, possibly on their way between summer northern feeding grounds around Iceland and northern Norway and winter breeding grounds off the coasts of NW Africa.

Alternatively, there may be humpbacks roaming the region year-round. Since the 1980’s, there have been regular sightings from Shetland, the northern Irish Sea, and in the western approaches to the English Channel. Some of these have been in winter, as is the case of the 2012 sightings of a humpback whale off the Aberdeenshire coast from December to March.

All this points to an increase in humpback presence in Scottish waters but we need further research to verify if there is a true upward trend and to establish the origin of ‘our’ humpbacks. This will provide important information on which to safeguard any recovery.

For the two ‘Aberdeenshire’ whales, I sent photographs of their tail flukes to the University of the Atlantic, in Maine, USA. Here, they maintain a catalogue of over 8000 photos of tail flukes which are the equivalent of fingerprints for whales. Each whale has a diagnostic coloured fluke, with different configurations of pale and dark areas on the undersides, and with additional features such as abrasions and wear to the fluke margin, it all adds up to a sure-fire ID for most whale individuals.

A humpback tail lobbying far out in Aberdeen Bay. ©Ron Macdonald 2016

A humpback tail lobbying far out in Aberdeen Bay. © Ron Macdonald 2016

Neither of the ‘Aberdeenshire’ whales were in the US catalogue which is not surprising given they are probably from the eastern Atlantic population. However, neither were they in the UK-wide catalogue of fluke and fin images from the 1970s to the present, maintained by the Sea Watch Foundation, although some of the other individuals have been recorded moving between Aberdeenshire, the Moray Firth and Shetland as well as into the southern North Sea.

Dr Kevin Robinson, Director of the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit, based in Banff, Aberdeenshire, has a licence from SNH to obtain DNA samples from humpbacks in Scottish waters. This will tell us which cohort of the North Atlantic population these come from, which will allow us to better plan for their management.

Speaking of management, a recent 2016 IWC paper presents a worrying picture. The summary findings, based on recorded entanglements of humpbacks between 1992-2016, concludes that Scottish inshore waters are unlikely to sustain a population of humpback whales. This is because they currently act as a major source of entanglement, mainly with crab and lobster creels. Rescue responses to six of the 12 entangled whales resulted in successful disentanglements, although their long-term survival remains unknown. Three of the 12 entanglement cases were fatal. The conclusion of the modelling showed that Scottish waters currently act as a mortality sink for humpbacks.

Humpback whale records from 1992-2016 in Scottish waters (including entanglements) (Ryan et al., 2016).

Humpback whale records from 1992-2016 in Scottish waters (including entanglements) (Ryan et al., 2016).

Efforts are underway to establish a Scottish Parliamentary Working Group, made up of fishing, welfare and conservation bodies. This would look at the extent of the entanglement problem and make recommendations to mitigate it.  It has to be said that fishermen have been at the forefront of efforts to save whales from entanglements, as much to conserve the whales as to save their gear. It seems a win : win so hopefully the Group will be set up early in 2017.

A humpback entangled in creel ropes , Loch Eiriboll, January 2016. Photo courtesy of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR)

A humpback entangled in creel ropes , Loch Eiriboll, January 2016. Photo courtesy of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR)

Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy the two humpbacks off the Aberdeenshire coast. Last week, they decided to spend time off Aberdeen City’s beach and surprised this surfer photographed by Walter Innes. Later the whale made gay foam and whitewater, breaching further out in the bay. Herman Melville would have been pleased.

A humpback whale swims close to a surfer in Aberdeen bay. © Walter Innes 2016

A humpback whale swims close to a surfer in Aberdeen bay. © Walter Innes 2016

My thanks to Dr Peter Evans, Director of the Sea Watch Foundation and his staff for their help with the blog and to Walter Innes and the BDMLR for permission to use their photos.

Ron Macdonald was formerly SNH’s Head of Policy and Advice.

For more information about Forvie NNR visit the Reserve website.

Posted in Marine | Tagged , , , ,

Do you know how to read a map?

Did you know that 86% of British people can’t place Edinburgh correctly on a map? London is better known, although a full 40 percent couldn’t pinpoint it on a map either, according to new research by Ordnance Survey.

Schiehallion's conical form. © Lorne Gill/SNH

Schiehallion’s conical form. © Lorne Gill/SNH

With almost one in ten people also admitting to having never used a paper map – one which isn’t on their phone tablet or Sat Nav – are people moving away from using traditional maps nowadays?

We hope that’s not the case, and for National Map Reading Week, we want to put Scotland’s Schiehallion mountain into the spotlight.

Schiehallion, with its distinctive conical summit, is one of Scotland’s most celebrated mountains. It’s known as “the fairy hill of the Caledonians” in folklore, and was believed to have magical powers.

But that’s not why we’re writing about it today. We’re highlighting it because of how important it is in the history of mapping. In fact, it’s not only important – it’s the origin of all contour maps, and much more.

As Bill Bryson details in A Short History of Nearly Everything, way back in 1774, Charles Hutton was hired to help with some survey work on the striking mountain. The consequences of this affected the future of both mapping and science enormously. Bryson writes:
Hutton noticed that if he used a pencil to connect points of equal height, it all became much more orderly. Indeed, one could instantly get a sense of the overall shape and slope of the mountain. He had invented contour lines.

Not only this, but:
Extrapolating from his Schiehallion measurements, Hutton calculated the mass of the Earth at 5,000 million million tons.

Heading along the ridge towards the summit of Schiehallion. © Jim Jeffrey

Heading along the ridge towards the summit of Schiehallion. © Jim Jeffrey

Then, from this, Hutton and Nevil Maskelyne also figured out, for the first time, the masses of all other major bodies in the solar system, including the Sun, the Moon, the other planets and their moons. So mapping one Scottish mountain was the basis for a significant scientific finding which was surprisingly accurate for the time.

Now, British visual artist, Karen Rann has used Hutton’s centuries-old data to create a four-foot-square map of Schiehallion, as well as an elegant 3-D model. Alongside artifacts from Hutton’s research, both of these works of art are on view at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle, where Rann lives and Hutton once called home. See more about this project on her blog.

Many of us do still find traditional maps fascinating, and many spend hours pouring over an OS map to plan excursions. If you want to improve your map-reading skills at any level – from beginner to advanced – the Ordance Survey has plenty of advice, leaflets, videos and more to help you. Or why not download one of SNH’s Explore for a Day leaflets, which include maps and suggested itineraries for many areas around Scotland. Or you could take up the challenge of trekking up Schiehallion itself!

Have a look at the surprising results of the new research by Ordnance Survey.

Posted in mapping | Tagged , , , ,

Mapping machair

Professor Stewart Angus, SNH Coastal Ecologist, looks at how we are mapping a special feature of Scotland’s coastal environment – machair.


The Vatersay machair. ©Lorne Gill

Only two countries in the world have machair, the shell-rich dune grassland that can be so spectacular in summer, with swathes of coloured wild flowers that change as the season progresses. On a warm summer day, with a vivid blue sea and dazzling beach sand, some of us feel there are few better places to be. They also have machair in Ireland, and in places it can be almost as fine as it is in Scotland!

However in the real world, it also rains occasionally, and SNH requires rather more of its scientists than admiration of the scenery, and inevitably there was an increased demand for a map of machair. Unfortunately this did not involve more trips to machair, but sitting in front of a computer analysing vegetation maps, landscape situation, and cross-referring documents, including endless spreadsheets. Then there were successive versions of the machair map to be checked.


The Benbecula machair. ©Lorne Gill

As a contribution towards the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity we are producing a detailed Habitat Map of Scotland (HabMoS). The other ‘soft’ coastal habitats – sand dunes, saltmarsh and shingle – had already been mapped, so machair was the only remaining gap. SNH needs this information in order to meet our legal obligations. We decided to use a habitat classification called EUNIS – the European Nature Information System – for compatibility with reports from other countries across Europe. Machair is a single EUNIS habitat which makes the task significantly easier.

Many hours of analysis later, we have a machair map, and it is now possible to say that there are over 13,000 hectares of machair in Scotland, mainly in the Outer Hebrides, Tiree and Coll, with smaller amounts in the Northern Isles and the west coast mainland. There are always challenges with such maps. They represent a ‘snapshot’ in time of a dynamic habitat, so might have changed since they were last surveyed.


Ringed plover on the South Uist machair. ©Lorne Gill

Different surveyors have different opinions, and the reality is that the environment is a continuum and does not always slot into neatly-separated boxes. Furthermore, the environment seems to behave a bit erratically. The type of vegetation found only on steep slopes alongside machair in most of Scotland, where the sand is thin and the alkaline effect of the shell fragments in the sand begins to be offset by the run-off of acid water from above, occurred on ‘core’ machair at sites in Lewis, on thick sand with no evidence of acid influence. We don’t know why these anomalies happen, but their presence means an element of judgement must be applied to the task. Of course it could be argued that these circumstances require the map to be checked on the ground…but that isn’t always feasible.

As long as certain limitations are accepted, this map is an invaluable aid to the assessment of change on our coasts, with a ‘time-stamped’ baseline of habitat distribution we can use to inform the impact of rising sea levels, as well as other impacts on a special feature of Scotland’s coastal environment.

You can view our machair map on the Habitat Map of Scotland web page .

Posted in machair, Uncategorized

Species of the month – the oak marble gall wasp

You would never imagine that tiny, obscure wasps like this could have a place in British history, or indeed have contributed to the culture and literacy of the Western world. But follow Athayde Tonhasca’s thread.

Let there be gall enough in thy ink. William Shakespeare

Oak marble galls. © Creative Commons

Oak marble galls. © Creative Commons

No doubt you’ve seen plants with abnormal growths that evoke images of tumours or warts in animals. These are galls, which are caused by invasive agents such as viruses, nematodes, mites and insects. When a plant is invaded by a gall-forming organism, it produces hormones that make the cells in the affected area enlarge and multiply quickly, creating bizarre deformations in an array of colours, shapes and sizes. Some plants are severely weakened by galls (the French wine industry was devastated in the 1860s by the grape gall), but many show no ill effects.

Gall midges or gall gnats (Family Cecidomyiidae) and gall wasps (Family Cynipidae) are the main gall-forming organisms, but it is the wasps that are particularly important for oak trees. Of the 90 or so gall wasps in Britain, 42 are parasitic on oaks. Worldwide, about 1000 species of cynipid wasps have been identified, predominantly in the Northern hemisphere.

Galls often act as ‘resource sinks’, drawing chemical compounds from other parts of the plant. In the case of trees, galls concentrate high levels of tannic acid, a substance used throughout the world to produce traditional medicines, hair dyes and tanning agents. But tannic acid from tree galls, particularly from oak, has a special historical significance: combined with iron salts, it forms a bluish-black substance that has been used as ink since about 2,000 BC. From the 5th century to the early 20th century, crushed oak galls were mixed with water, iron sulphate and gum arabic to make gall ink, which was the main medium for writing and drawing in the Western world. Medieval monks relied on gall ink to copy many of the surviving manuscripts from the Middle Ages. Old music scores, drawings, letters, maps, wills, book-keeping records, ship logs, etc. were produced with gall ink. In the words of entomologist George McGavin, “this indelible ink has preserved for posterity the Magna Carta, the American Declaration of Independence, the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and the notes of Charles Darwin to name but a few.”

Oak marble gall wasp. ©

Oak marble gall wasp. ©

And now we are closing in on our tiny wasp.

Gall wasps are very small and difficult to spot, since they spend most of their life inside the galls. So it is not surprising that we know very little about their biology and ecology; for many species, there are no recorded males. Nonetheless, Andricus kollari, our highlighted species, can be identified by the galls it produces, which look like marbles hanging from oak twigs – hence known as oak marble galls. This species is not native to Britain; it was deliberately introduced to England from the Middle East around 1840 for the manufacture of inks and dyes and cloth dying. Within 40 years, the wasp had spread to the north of Scotland, and it is now found across Great Britain.

Oak marble galls. © Creative commons

Oak marble galls. © Creative commons

The oak marble gall wasp arrived too late to make as great a contribution to our written heritage as other gall wasps; nonetheless, this species has a place in our history as an example of entrepreneurship during Victorian times, when the natural world was seen as a source of novelty, wealth and progress.

To learn more about gall wasps and oaks:
George McGavin’s Hearts (and Minds) of Oak
Robin Williams’ Oak-galls in Britain
Plant galls (Trees for life)


Posted in Insects | Tagged , , , , , ,

An unwelcome arrival

Asian hornet Vespa velutina. © Jean Haxaire

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) has been sighted in Gloucestershire, possibly making its way into the UK from France. This is not good news because Asian hornets are aggressive predators, feeding on honey bees and other insects – although we don’t know yet the extent of damage they cause. This wasp was accidentally introduced to France in 2004, where it spread rapidly. If the Asian hornet becomes established in England, it may eventually reach Scotland. Therefore it is important to be able to identify this invasive species and report possible sightings. The Asian hornet is likely to be near beehives, so beekeepers in particular should be on the alert.


The Asian hornet can be easily mistaken for our native species, even though it is smaller. One of the key features for identification is the abdomen; it is entirely dark except for the fourth segment, which is yellow. Native hornets have a yellow abdomen with black patches or stripes. The GB Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) has produced an ID sheet and alert poster that are very useful for identification.

Suspected sightings can be reported to or through an online form.

Images © Jean Haxaire


Posted in Non-native species | Tagged , , , ,

The fruit is out there

Autumn … we explore the ‘Season of mellow fruitfulness’ with our  Rambling Brambler, aka Jim Carruthers, Battleby’s gardener.

Bramble or Blackberry fruits. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Bramble or blackberry fruits. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

The time of brambling is upon us. You and yours should take advantage of this fine autumn weather and get out there picking. Enjoy the experience afforded by one of the great, if not greatest, foraging traditions in Scotland.

If you have never done it before here are some pointers to help you make it less of a “sair fecht”.

Top Tips for beginners…

Take a stick… Essential accessory. Useful for making access through the sternest of thickets and pulling fruits to within reach. If you beat it on the ground as you approach a patch, it helps to scatter bears, venomous snakes, guardian readers and crazed ascetics. Splendid for controlling the weans and encouraging work-shy grannies.

Look out for brambles in your local park. ©beckyduncanphotographyltd/SNH

Look out for brambles in your local park. ©beckyduncanphotographyltd/SNH

Watch out for professionals… Instantly detectable by their glower. Pros are fiercely territorial. Plying with scones, drink, even waterboards, will not make them reveal their secret patch. Commonly take evasive, protracted detours to protect their source. If you come across a pro, do not attempt small talk. Back away slowly. It is said if you maintain eye contact they will not charge. Just mind that their stick will be stouter than yours.

Brambles differ… The main reason a pro like Mrs Gow can pick 3kg and you are lucky to get ½ kg is that she knows that brambles vary. They vary so much a typical bramble does not exist. It is known as an aggregate species because there are so many variations (try 500 for starters).Their fruits can be big and sweet like grapes from Nineveh or wee and wersh like Mrs Gow’s dog. Not just the fruits vary, but also the flowers, leaves, vigour and habit can all differ in themselves and in their response to the “terroir”. This explains the pro’s sense of ownership. Be aware that some variations in flavour in low-slung berries can be caused by dogs.

Know why you’re picking… jam, jelly, puddings and pies, freezer, breakfast, steeping in gin or as winter health foods. Best way to pick is judiciously and often. In these fine autumn afternoons, brambles will ripen daily. The more outings you have, the easier it is to pick solely fully-ripened fruits. Jam-makers should include a few deep brown berries which will help setting. Wine-makers may include the odd over-ripe one to encourage a natural yeast ferment. It’s only a matter of time before some vintage is launched with the slogan “Made with Scottish native yeasts”.

Over-reaching… Should be avoided but hey if you are going to do it, do it early on before you spill hunners. It will happen. Everybody’s done it. The wisest only once. Disentangle slowly. No, no, no, much more slowly than you are imagining.

Rooking… Overpicking is bad! Near enough a sin. It’s anti-social in what is essentially a community sporting event. Not the best way to become locally famous.

Comma butterfly feeding on bramble fruit. ©John Baxter/SNH

Comma butterfly feeding on bramble fruit. ©John Baxter/SNH

As a member of the rose family the bramble, like the rasp, is rich in nectar and so is visited by all kinds of insects. The leaves are used extensively by certain butterfly species. But the fruits without doubt make the greatest contribution to biodiversity. Birds, insects, small mammals like mice, larger mammals like foxes, awfy large mammals like yourself. So it is vitally important to leave some for others.

Top top tip…Pick each fruit by the sides only, thus avoiding the wasps that lurk with purposeful menace on the back.

A handful of juicy berries. ©beckyduncanphotographyltd/SNH

A handful of juicy berries. ©beckyduncanphotographyltd/SNH

Part 2

Bramble crops are becoming more reliable than those of raspberries. Recent weather patterns give wet summers and dry autumns. Rasps, both wild and cultivated, fail to ripen well, develop moulds and pests flourish on them. Brambles, however, are becoming more luscious than ever, the good growth brought on by the ample rains, plenty fruits due to the large number of pollinators, the autumn sun and dry weather come on cue to complete the blueprint.

One way round this dearth of rasps is to grow some autumn-fruiting rasps in your garden. Ensure you get a variety suitable for Scotland such as ‘Autumn Bliss’. Pick them in the early morning when they are cool with dew. Reliable and pest-free, they’ll keep fruiting until the frosts get serious.

You could even plant a cultivated bramble. An area the size of a whirligig will give you a punnet a day for weeks.

In fact dinnae stop there. What do you really want with all these lawns and shrubberies and herbaceous borders in these dismal summers when the only dry days have to be spent maintaining them rather than sitting in them? Plant a Bramley apple and then puddings and pies will put a smile in your belly all autumn and Apple and Bramble jam shall make the winter rain tolerable. Keep a few flowers like Japanese anemones and asters, which will be nice for you and your visitors. You will get lots of visitors, once the “crumbles on tap” word gets out.

Just practice glowering between grins. Mrs Gow’s grandweans will be sure to be among the visitors.

Posted in gardens | Tagged , , ,

The life and times of Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve – butterflies and dragonflies

It’s not all about trees and eagles, you know! One of the many tasks that we carry out here at Beinn Eighe NNR during the summer months is butterfly surveys. Butterflies are an extremely useful indicator of the overall health of an ecosystem, and may also provide early warnings of climate change, as species normally associated with warmer climates to the south are gradually being recorded further north each year.

Scotch Argus butterfly. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Scotch Argus butterfly.

At Beinn Eighe we carry out butterfly surveys on a weekly basis along a fixed 1.2 km route or transect from the beginning of April to the end of September, on days when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity. Having a fixed route provides a control method which allows butterfly sightings to be compared at the same site every year, as weather conditions will vary.

When carrying out the survey, our surveyors walk the transect, recording any butterflies that they see within a 5 metre width along the route. We also record any moths, dragonflies and damselflies which are also good indicators of ecosystem health. As well as species and numbers, we also record information such as weather conditions, wind speed/direction and cloud cover. Once completed, the survey data is entered online at the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme website, where it becomes part of the national record along with data from thousands of similar weekly butterfly surveys being carried out across the UK.

One of the butterfly species we’ve recorded on our surveys over the last few weeks is the speckled wood. This pale brown butterfly with white markings can be seen throughout the summer, preferring the dappled light of woodland habitats and feeding on common grasses such as cock’s foot and Yorkshire fog. Another recent record at the reserve is the large white butterfly which, although widespread across most of the UK throughout the summer, is much less common in north-west Scotland.

By far the most frequently recorded butterfly during the month of August has been the Scotch argus, which is easily identifiable from its dark brown wings, orange bands and distinctive eyespots. Found mainly in the Highlands and south west of Scotland, it appears for only a few short weeks between late July and early September. Despite its name, the Scotch argus is not entirely indigenous to Scotland, as two isolated populations also occur in northern England, though its population there appears to be in decline. Favouring damp grasslands, bogs and woodland clearings up to an altitude of 500 metres, there is no shortage of suitable habitat for the Scotch argus butterfly here at Beinn Eighe. The Scotch argus has an ability to survive cooler temperatures than other butterflies, making it likely to have been among the first butterfly species to recolonize the British Isles following the last Ice age.

Beinn Eighe’s ancient woodlands, wet heath and bog habitats aren’t just favoured by butterflies, they are also ideal habitat for dragonflies and damselflies. Recent records at the reserve for these amazing insects include large red damselflies, common hawkers, azure hawkers, golden-ringed dragonflies and many Highland darters.

One dragonfly species we frequently record at here Beinn Eighe is the golden-ringed dragonfly. Easy to identify with its black body, distinctive golden-yellow bands and striking green eyes, the female golden-ringed dragonfly is the longest dragonfly in the British Isles, due to her long ovipositor (the tubular organ through which a female deposits her eggs). You may see these beautiful dragonflies patrolling back and forth above lochans, mountain streams and other small bodies of water at the reserve, looking for small flying insects which they prey upon.

Golden ringed dragonfly.

Golden ringed dragonfly.

Now, moving towards the end of September, the butterfly survey season will soon be drawing to a close and the completed data for this year will provide yet another page in the ongoing story of Britain’s butterfly (and dragonfly) population.

With many species, not just butterflies, facing an uncertain future due to threats such as habitat loss and climate change, the data from our butterfly surveys will help to ensure that conservation efforts are targeted where they are needed most, as well as help to assess the effectiveness of current conservation strategies.

And a final word on the transects: these have to be carried out under specific conditions. Look at the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme methodology page for information on this. Not only that, but these conditions vary with latitude – in northern areas we can get away with 11°C as long as there is enough sun. It’s far from just randomly wandering around waving a butterfly net !

Next month? More voluntary work, and a look at some of the other wildlife we have on the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve

For more information, look at our  website. The Beinn Eighe Reserve Visitor Centre is open from April until the end of October and has an award-winning display about the reserve, along with a range of walking trails from ten minutes to as much as a full day.

The view from the Mountain Trail - a four hour circular walk in stunning scenery. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

The view from the Mountain Trail – a four hour circular walk in stunning scenery.

Butterfly and dragonfly text courtesy of Stuart Mackenzie, SRUC Placement.
All images ©Lorne Gill/SNH.




Posted in Uncategorized