Aigas, Aigas Field Centre, bronze age huts, Eurasian Beaver, Golden eagle, house martin, iron age fort, John LIster-Kaye, Magnus House, Magnus Magnusson, Meadow pipit, pine marten, Round-leaved sundew, wild cat, wild cat breeding programme
I forgot to say – because I had no photo to remind me – that we had this morning a few seconds’ glimpse of a juvenile golden eagle. Quite a thrill, if all too brief as it disappeared into the cloud at the top of the mountain.
This afternoon we spent being introduced to the immediate territory that goes with Aigas House. First of all we had a briefing from seasonal ranger Ben at the front of the house, during which we were entertained by the industrious and fearless house martin parents who were feeding young just over the doorway.
Then we walked up to the Magnus House, the educational space named after, and opened just after the death of, Magnus Magnusson, a good friend of naturalist Sir John Lister-Kaye, who, with his wife, Lucy, and his son, Warwick, runs the Aigas Field Centre. On the way, we noticed, not for the first or the last time, that in Inverness-shire, in mid-June, the bluebells were still in flower.
Inside we found Boris, the male beaver, who, with his mate Lily, successfully bred for several years as part of an experimental reintroduction scheme. (Pending governmental decision, this scheme is now in abeyance.) Several of the offspring have been dispersed elsewhere, but Lily and some of her cubs are still seen occasionally on Aigas Loch, which we next visited.
We saw several signs of beaver activity, including the building of accommodation more to their taste than the artificial lodge which was first provided for them.
When three-quarters of the way round the loch, we diverted upwards to some heathland, to the location of some bronze age huts. We had no time to go even further upward to the site of an iron age fort.
On the way down we were told a little about the wild cat breeding programme of which the Centre is part. In due course, in a few more generations, it is hoped that some kittens may be reintroduced into the wild, well away from where any domestic cat can be found, in order to ensure the purity of the genetic stock.
Apart from the two people who look after the cats, no-one is allowed to visit the cats. so that they do not become habituated to humans. They must remain truly wild. Frustrating to be so near and not see, but at the same time a privilege even to be near the project.