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Caithness Rangers     Caithness Field Club  

19 December 03
Biodiversity Photo Collection
A stunning collection of photographs building over the next few weeks to a full set of 400.

21 October 03
Hawkmoths In Caithness
Chris Nicolson in Castletown sent us in some news about a Hawkmoth some time ago.
I couldn't believe the size of the moth that dropped from the clothes I was working with yesterday! (It was eventually released in Dunnet Forest). I understand one of the teachers in the local school also found a large moth recently, so I don't think I'll be the only one to come across one of these!
It’s not unusual for beasties to be brought in with the washing, but the moth that landed on a Castletown clothesline this week was slightly larger than the norm. Measuring about 7 cm, when the wings were closed the moth resembled a piece of bark. Further investigation revealed it to be a Convolvulus Hawkmoth.
As the website www.migrantmoth.com reports “Huge numbers of Convolvulus Hawk-moth Agrius convolvuli have been recorded in the UK and Ireland during August, reaching as far north as the Shetland Isles. 1983 is generally regarded as the 'great convolvuli year', however we may well have surpassed the numbers reported that year all ready!”

7 September 03
Elm Trees
The ramblers association is organising a search for the remaining Elm Trees in the UK after the years of Dutch Elm disease.  No walks in Caithness as yet but if anyone is organising one let us know.
The search will take place during Walking Week 20 - 28 September 2003.  The Ramblers Association site has a list of all the walks organised for the week notified so far.

3 September 03
Caithness Countryside Volunteers Restore Old Footpath At Reisgill Burn
The Caithness Countryside Volunteers met on Sunday morning to cut back gorse along an old pathway
(LYBSTER OLD A9 BRIDGE PATH).  They discovered an old footbridge and stile which had previously been hidden by the thick gorse.  The work has allowed access along an old route which leads down to a beautiful old bridge crossing the Reisgill burn.
Caithness Countryside Volunteers Page

2 September 03
No Whales For Whale Watch Near Lybster
The ranger service organised a cetacean watch as part of the national whale and dolphin watch which was taking place all over Britain.  24 people turned out for the event on Sunday 31 August but unfortunately whales nor dolphins were spotted.  2 groups of porpoise were seen.  Marina Finlayson saw 2 minke whales very close to shore the previous Friday but they did not turn up for the event!

29 June 03
A Red Admiral Butterfly Snapped In a Caithness Garden
Colin Stewart took this picture of a red admiral butterfly in his neighbours garden today.   There are quite a range of moths and Butterflies in the county.  If anyone else has managed to take any pictures we would be happy to start a new section to contain them and build a record of them.  Details of location and names would be helpful.  If any rare ones are sent in we will omit the location

14 May 03
Highland Biodiversity Newsletter 2

13 April 03
Birds and Plants in 2002
by Donald Omand and Ken Butler


22 October 05
Caithness Biodiversity Newsletter October 2005
Biodiversity is one of the ‘buzz’ words that seems to pop up all the time these days. It simply means the "variety of life on earth”. This includes all living things, from the tiny garden ant to the giant redwood tree. You will find biodiversity everywhere, in window boxes and wild woods, in roadsides and rain forests, on seashores and snow fields. The concept is a relatively new perspective on the natural world and how we as humans relate to it, which has developed over the last couple of decades.  Catch up on a few of the Caithness biodiversity projects helping to keep the county's varied wildlife and natural habitats. - Main Biodiversity Index

17 August 05
New Era For Globally Important Peatlands
A new strategy for the long term management of the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland was launched by Rhona Brankin, Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development on Tuesday 16 august 2005.  Caithness and Sutherland have the biggest extent of blanket bog in the UK and possibly the world. Large parts of the area are formally recognised under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act and the EC Wild Birds and Habitats Directives, and have also been proposed as a World Heritage Site.

1 July 05
On Tuesday 12th July the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) will launch the Caithness leg of the Scottish Turtle Roadshow, currently touring key fishing harbours around the entire coast of Scotland and the islands to urge fishermen and other sea-users to report their encounters with critically endangered leatherback turtles2 in Scottish waters.Tuesday, 12th July - Lybster, Portland Arms Hotel, 7.30pm Wednesday, 13th July - Wick, Nethercliffe Hotel, 7.30pm, Thursday, 14th July - Scrabster, Weigh Inn, 7.30pm

Access In The Countryside
The latest newsletter from SNH and links to related and useful web sites.  the new legislation comes into affect in 2005 and there are grants available for paths etc.

Sutherland Biodiversity Plan
Got a question about Sutherland and its rich flora and fauna.  surprisingly the county may be one of the least studied in the UK even though it is the biggest.  With the low population maybe there are not enough folk to study it all.

Munsary Peatlands
Location: Near Lybster, Caithness.
Grid Reference: ND 211 450
Munsary Peatlands is Plantlife’s largest nature reserve, extending over 3373 acres.

13 April 04
£35k SNH Grant Boost For North Diver Project
A major three-year project in the north of Scotland, aimed at the conservation of one of the UK's rarest birds, the black-throated diver, has been awarded a grant of more than £35,000 by Scottish Natural Heritage. The total UK population of breeding black-throated divers is believed to be less than 200 pairs. Black-throated divers nest on small islands in lochs, or on the loch shore and around 30% of these nests fail annually due to fluctuating water levels. Others fail due to predation or human disturbance. Divers also produce very small numbers of young, so any lack of breeding success can have a significant impact on the overall population.

26 February 04
The Dunnet Bay Visitor Centre turned into a busy workshop for eager bird box builders last Sunday when over 20 volunteers turned up to 'Build a Bird Box Day'.  The event was organised by Rangers in The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service in response to the Local Biodiversity Action Plan which highlighted a need for specialised bird boxes. Instead of the more common tit and robin type nest boxes, the volunteers tried their hand at building tree creeper and communal house sparrow boxes. The tree creeper boxes will be erected in broadleaf woodlands such as Dunbeath and Achvarasdal and the communal house sparrow boxes in towns through out the county.

Wednesday Wanders  
A guided walk every Wednesday in June to September led by Dunbeath Heritage guide or a Countryside Ranger.  Telephone 01593 731233 for details or meet at Dunbeath Heritage Centre 2.00pm every Wednesday.  Coffee after each walk.

Biodiversity Comments
Your comments are wanted on the Caithness bio-diversity plan by 30 November 2002

3 September 2002
Yellow Marsh Saxifrage (
saxifrage hirculus)
Discovered at Munsary Peatlands -  Latheron

During the monitoring work, the survey team have recently made an exciting find by locating saxifrage hirculus (yellow marsh saxifrage), on site.
The Yellow marsh saxifrage is a perennial plant occurring in base-rich flushes and mires. It is threatened and declining throughout much of Europe. Formerly recorded from 13 vice-counties in the UK, it is now restricted to approximately 20 localities in about 10 ten km squares in Northern Ireland, Scotland and northern England. The main population concentration is now in the northern Pennines, which holds 80-90% of the UK population. The size of yellow marsh saxifrage populations have been under-estimated as the flower heads are grazed off, making recognition difficult.
UK Biodiversity for more on Yellow Marsh Saxifrage

26 August 2002
Plants In Late Summer By Ken Butler

21 August 2002
Biodiversity Week In Caithness
30 August - 8 September 2002
The Ranger Service are running a series of events.

7 August 2002
A Framework For Bio-diversity Highland

Reproduced to let you know what is being looked at.

Highland BioDiversity Action Planning 16 May

Ranger Guided Walks In 2002 Programme
8 Apr 2002
A packed season of summer walks open to all members of the public for 2002.  Printed leaflets will be available at Tourist Board and other centres from May.  Meantime check it out here and if you are visiting the county you are welcome to come along.

Ken Butler's Botanical Pages 3 April 2002
This new section starts off with a short article on a few of the plants you might see in Caithness in Springtime.  New articles will be added as they are received.  An alphabetical listing has been started to make it easier to find plants as the series grows.

Ranger Gets Raft's Floated Out 2 April 2002

Help Select A Caithness County Flower For The Queens Jubiliee

Whale & Dolphin Survey Results

Tree Planting In Caithness
This report by the late Jess Campbell was written in 1985 but may still be useful as it lists the types of trees they planted after careful deliberation.  The trees at Newton Hill are still doing well but the whereabouts of others are unknown.  Let us know if you have any information.

All Walks Are FREE
Walks Weather Dependent
Outdoor and Waterpoof clothing recommended
Reasonable Fitness Required

Wednesday Wanders
A guided walk every Wednesday in June to September led by Dunbeath Heritage guide or a Countryside Ranger.  Telephone 01593 731233 for details or meet at Dunbeath Heritage Centre 2.00pm every Wednesday.  Coffee after each walk.