The themed events have been a great success, with kids and parents alike thoroughly enjoying the Water, Woods and Wilderness sessions at Bowhill. During the water session the kids have made some amazing finds on the Upper Loch, with lots of young frogs, newts (Eft’s) and even a Water Scorpion (Nepa cinerea), which uses its front legs to catch prey and its stinger like tail to breathe!
Whilst in the woods there has been mini bug hotels built as winter shelters for a host of beasties, including one of my favourites the Shield bug (Pentatoma rufipes) and the colourful but predatory Carabus Beetle (Carabus problematicus), which spends most of its time around deadwood and leaf litter.
Carabus Beetle (Carabus Problematicus) found under deadwood near the Vista.
Shield Bug (Pentatoma rufipes) found hitching a ride on my trousers.
The most enjoyable aspect of the summer sessions, has been watching parents getting their hands dirty with their kids. There have been a few dubious looks at the start of each session, but by the end there are smiles all round.
The rather fabulous creation, of probably one of the best shelters I’ve seen, is still standing and looking pretty much the same as when it was built two months ago by a rather enthusiastic family of four!
The biodiversity at Bowhill is nothing short of outstanding and my first few months have been spent scoping various communities and populations.
Making a start with the National Bat Monitoring Program (NBMP) Waterway surveys, there is definitely a very healthy population of Daubenton bats (Myotis Daubentonii) on both the Yarrow and Ettrick.
Teaming up with Lisa McLeish from local CIC Go Wild we recorded a total of 62 definite Daubenton passes on the Yarrow and an astounding 152 definite passes on the Ettrick. Lisa even managed to capture some amazing footage on her thermal imaging camera.
Following on from the formal surveys, Charlie one of the gardening team had alerted me to the potential presence of Brown long eared bats (Plecotus auratus) at the Gardeners Cottage. Carrying out a very relaxed and informal emergence survey, not only did Charlie, Lisa and myself confirm a small population of Brown long eared were in residence but also recorded Noctule (Nyctalus noctule) and abundant Pipistrelle in the area.
Red Squirrel and Pine Marten
Continuing our monitoring of Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and Pine marten (Martes martes) alongside Go Wild, we have at this point identified two separate populations of Reds.
By setting up monitoring stations, capturing both stills and video, we are able to analyse physical characteristics, behaviour and potential connectivity between habitats. I feel privileged to have been able to sit and watch one of these populations (comprising two adults and a kit distinguishable by variations in colour), and although observation remains objective, you cannot fail to fall in love with these beautiful animals and there energetic scurrying.
If you would like to help survey the woodland of Bowhill, The Great Scottish Squirrel Survey is taking place in October and welcome to all that are interested.
See For Yourself
I am hopeful to identify more territories as monitoring continues and are also very much looking forward welcoming the Central Borders Red Squirrel Network for an October afternoon looking for further feeding signs and drey’s across the Bowhill estate.
You can also play your part in helping to record biological data on the estate. We have had sightings of Pine marten at Newark and several visitors have reported sightings of Otter (Lutra lutra) on the Lower Loch (including some kits). Lucy McTaggart, an aspiring Botanist and Lepidopterist, sent in this photo of a Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops) a species with a diminishing southern range.
If you have seen anything of note, or are part of a group that would like to visit the Estate to contribute to our recording, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What's On For Winter
Out of season, there is still lots of engagement and it is also time to maintain access on the estate. From home educators to local employability groups, Autumn and Winter is full of educational tours of the grounds and essential maintenance of the path infrastructure.
If you would like to find out more about how can support a group or would be interested in volunteering, please do drop me an email at email@example.com.
I hope to see you soon and hope you have enjoyed my first installment of Ranger Diaries!