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Biodiversity Photo Collection

Talk About Nature Topics In Our Biodiversity Forum


Caithness Rangers     Caithness Field Club

Ranger Guided Walks Caithness & Sutherland 2009
Highland Ranger Service

Caithness Bird News

Watch Our Wildlife Spring



Watch Our Wildlife - Summer

Watch Our Wildlife - Winter

The Distribution of the Water Vole in Caithness
E Fraser, D Glass and S Hogg

Bees Butterflies and Bugs 2007
A new Bees Butterflies and Bugs section has now been set up for 2007 so if anyone would like to add to this section just email photos to [email protected]  We recently mentioned a Bumble Bee Survey being carried out by the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust and Gordon Mackie has sent in a photo he has had confirmed by the trust as a White Tailed Bumble Bee Queen (Bombus locorum).  They have asked folk to look out for any Great Yellow Bumble Bees (
Bombus distinguendus) and to send in photos.  These can be found on the far north coast of Caithness and Sutherland.  In 2003 Caithness Field Club had an interesting outing looking at Bumble Bees In Caithness.  However the main thing for the web site is to gather any nice photos of Bees Butterflies, Moths etc and we will add them to the gallery.  If you can identify them so much the better.

Wildlife In The North - Photographs

Check Out Walking In Caithness
Combining the walks of several groups to help you find one.  Several groups organise walks and they all welcome visitors to join them.  From a couple of hours to all day the length of walks is usually noted.  Always take waterproofs on longer walks as Caithness weather can change very fast from dry and sunny to wet and back again.  In winter take warm clothing and remember it gets dark very early in the north.  In summer hours of darkness are very short and in late June and July there may be almost no completely dark hours on good days.  Great bird watching on many of the walks even if the walk is for another purpose like history or archaeology.

Introduction to Caithness

Fungi In Caithness

Ken Butler's Botanical Pages

Biological Recording In Caithness - Ken Butler

Biodiversity Pages

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

Highland Access Project
The Highland Access Project is a £1.2 million project, aimed at creating a sustainable network of low level, community pathways for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors. Five access project officers have been engaged by The Highland Access Project for three years to sign, waymark and promote 1,300 kilometres of existing paths and create 10 kilometres of new paths.

Dunnet Bay SSSI Part Three

Dunnet Bay SSSI Part Two

Peatlands - Caithness & Sutherland
A link page added to the A - Z to bring together pages and links about the Peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland about which there is growing interest.

Caithness Orchids 

Caithness Geography

Peatlands - Caithness & Sutherland

The Peatlands of Caithness & Sutherland - Management Strategy 2005 - 2015
Free from Scottish Natural Heritage.  Also available for download

Nature Publications From SNH
Scottish Natural Heritage has great many publications, factsheets, posters and son and many of them are free or available for download.

LIFE Peatlands

Trees in Caithness


Wildlife in Caithness


Environmental Links

Caithness Countryside Volunteers

Caithness Environmental Groups

Plants in Caithness

Ecology Links

Whale Survey in Northern Scotland 2000/2001

Newton Hill Community Woodland

Bird Watching in Caithness and Links

Animals in Caithness and Links

Invertebrates And The Pollution of Rivers

Orkney Field Club

North Highland Forest Trust

Do A Little change A Lot

Flow Country Appeal - RSPB
Appeal to save the bog/peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland

Earth Day Links

Ecology Links For Kids

Waste Management Links

Caithness Ranger Service

Wick River.

Thurso River

Greenland White-fronted Goose in Caithness

The Deciduous Trees of Caithness

Badryrie Project 1984
In 1984 the Caithness Field Club fenced a small natural woodland at Badryrie to save it.  Does anyone know if the woodland has regenerated as they hoped?  We have not been out to look yet.

Dunnet Bay SSSI - Historical and Present Day Ecology

Rangers Nature Notes
Short notes on what's been seen lately in the county.

NBN Gateway
This site allows you to view distribution maps and download UK wildlife data by using a variety of interactive tools.

Highland Wild Encounters - Not running in 2007
An annual wildlife watching festival - provides a very special opportunity to view some of northern Scotland's unique wildlife. Knowledgeable guides from The Highland Council Countryside Rangers, RSPB, and Scottish Natural Heritage will lead walks, minibus tours and boat trips to enable participants to get close to some rare and very beautiful wildlife. Check the site for dates.


Whale Dolphin and Porpoise Watching - Leaflet Pdf
Whales On Caithness.org

Caithness Marine Mammal Medics

Local Caithness Bird Names By Robert H Walker

More Links
Scottish Natural Heritage
SNH Educational Resources - Factsheets, posters

Scottish Outdoor Access Code
UK Biodiversity Action Plan
Botanical Society Of The British Isles

What's New

The Axiophytes and Habitats in Caithness
by Ken Butler 

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A newly published work available as a Pdf has been produced by Caithness plant recorder Ken Butler who has for many years compiled data and photographs of Caithness plants and their habitats. His latest work "The Axiophytes and Habitats in Caithness" has been pubished in Pdf format on the web site of the Botanical Society of the British Isles. The URL for the file is http://bsbi.org.uk/Axiophytes_of_Caithness.pdf

What's Flying In July? - Caithness Moths Web Site Can Help Identify
Magpie Moth From www.caithnessmoths.org.uk
If you have ever wondered what is flying around your garden or home in Caithness but never could find out then there is fantastic resource web site www.caithnessmoths.org.uk that can help.  The Caithness Moths web site has photos and descriptions of a huge range of moths in Caithness The web site is still growiing and asks for help in obtaining more good photographs of moths not yet photographed.  So if you want to know what is flying around in Caithness in any month of the year just check the month.  This site has an amzing amount of infomration on an area of biodiversity that is all around us and often overlooked.  You can also add your items to the Biodiversity section in our forum on moths or any other apsect of nature in Caithness.

21 September 09
Views Sought On New Plan To Help Highland Wildlife
Views are being sought on a new plan to help wildlife across Highland. The draft Highland Biodiversity Action Plan was drawn up by the Highland Biodiversity Partnership, and goes out to public consultation today (Monday 21 September 2009). Chairperson Councillor Audrey Sinclair said: “The Partnership is made up of representatives of around 30 local groups and organisations committed to understanding, safeguarding, restoring and celebrating biodiversity within Highland. Our purpose is to provide guidance and support to the existing network of Local Biodiversity Groups, and to make progress on the main issues facing wildlife in the Highlands. It is this last point that we hope to address through this Plan.
Highland Biodiversity News Sept 09               Biodiversity Caithness & Sutherland Photos Collection

7 September 09
Edinburgh Zoo wild bus tours north coast
Caithness pupils will have the chance to discover the wild when an Edinburgh Zoo bus tours the north coast this week. The Edinburgh Zoo Wild Bus will be visiting Thurso High School on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th September and then North Primary School, Wick on Thursday 10th September.

When the bus is at Thurso High School pupils from Crossroads, Castletown, Mount Pleasant, Miller Academy, Reay and Halkirk Primaries and the High school will visit it. Pupils from Hillhead, North Wick, South Wick, Pulteneytown Academy, Watten, Lybster, Dunbeath, Keiss, Thrumster and Canisbay Primaries will be visiting the bus when it is in Wick.

Staff from The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) will offer primary six, seven and S1 pupils a 'hands on' experience of working with and learning about animals. The bus is offering four one hour slots for up to 30 pupils each day and is provided free to the Highland

The RZSS Wild Bus is travelling to schools and community groups throughout Scotland, between April 2009 and March 2010. The restored, re-branded 1975 Leyland double-decker brings enthralling activities and exhibits to local communities. Caithness pupils will hear the RZSS team explain more about their key conservation, research and education work.

Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for pupils in Caithness to get access to staff and facilities of The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Normally we would have to travel to the nearest facility in Kingussie to the Highland Wildlife Park or to Edinburgh Zoo. To have this opportunity on our own doorsteps is a great boost. I hope that the pupils who are attending not only learn lots of new things but have fun in doing so."

The Wild Bus project has been made possible thanks to support from The Scottish Government Science Engagement grant; Baillie Gifford; Arnold Clark; Integra Telematics; and the staff of the Society.

7 July 09
Highland Council Ranger Discovers New Site For Rare Bumblebee
The Great Yellow Bumblebee, one of Britain’s rarest bee species, has bucked recent gloomy trends and had a bumper summer in Scotland this year.

Paul Castle, The Highland Council’s North Sutherland Ranger, has been involved with the Great Yellow Bumblebee for several years and this year has discovered two previously unrecorded sites for this rare Bumblebee at Melvich and Reay along the north coast Delighted with his discovery, Paul said: "2009 has been an exciting summer for bumblebees.  These new sites mean we have now linked the Caithness and Sutherland populations.  It was particularly pleasing following last season when, despite searching, I never saw a single Great Yellow Bumblebee.  It's great to know this vulnerable mainland population is able to recover from an apparently disastrous season."

Conservationists at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust have been involved in a project to try to save the species and hope that this is the start of good times ahead for the Great Yellow.

Recent decades have seen dramatic declines in bumblebee populations, with two species nationally extinct and several others threatened. Habitat loss severely affected many species, and by the time beneficial mechanisms like agri-environment schemes were in place, bumblebees had disappeared from many areas. The Great Yellow was once widespread throughout the UK, but as agricultural practices became more intensive, the lights started to go out for the bee.  This left the far north and west of Scotland as the last refuge for this beautiful and charismatic species.

However, after a couple of poor years, 2009 has finally provided cause for cautious optimism among bee conservationists. Very good numbers of the Great Yellow Bumblebee have been recorded this year in Orkney and in north Highland, the last UK mainland population.
Paul added: “It is not too late to spot the species this year, and areas with knapweed, one of their favourite flowers, are good places to look.  It’s a distinctive creature, golden-yellow with a signature band of black fur between the wings.”

Everyone can do their bit to help bumblebees.  Gardeners can provide cottage garden plants for them to feed on throughout the year, whilst crofters and land managers can use options through the new agri-environment schemes.  The pollen and nectar-rich habitats that can be created will be invaluable in further boosting populations of this rare bumblebee.  More information on the project and how you can help can be found at www.bumblebeeconservation.org

6 July 09
Forsinain Trail - A Four Mile Circular Route (
Sitting on the edge of Caithness & Sutherland’s high quality bogs, the four mile Forsinain Trail is selfguided and takes in farm fields, bog pools, riverside and woodland allowing an insight into conservation management and exciting wildlife.  It starts on The Flows National Nature Reserve, part of RSPB Forsinard Nature Reserve, continues through Forestry Commission Scotland’s Forsinain Forest and returns along the privately owned River Halladale salmon river. This circular trail which rises 100m to the bog begins at the roadside car park on the River Halladale before ascending the farm road through fields used intensively by feeding and breeding peatland bird species. As there is a steep hill on the farm road, a small car park has been created above it for the sole use of disabled drivers which will provide views and bird watching into the adjacent fields. Further on, the trail follows a grassy track to the top of the fields and out onto a small area of blanket bog with peat cutting and bog pools, which is crossed on flagstone stepping stones. The trail then follows an unsurfaced route for approximately one mile through a conifer plantation with restoration felling and passing close to a loch where red-throated divers sometimes breed. Descending on the forest road the final section follows an unsurfaced route along the grassy riverbanks of the River Halladale with a short climb to a viewpoint on the way.

29 May 09
Great Yellow Bumblebee Blog - Can You Report Sightings and Send Photos
Bob Dawson the Scottish Conservation Officer with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust has been in touch to ask for help from everyone in notifying sightings or sending photos of this rare bee. Caithness and Sutherland are the last places on the UK mainland where this rare bee can be found, so are particularly special. It would be great to reach as many people as possible to raise awareness of the bee and encourage people to look out for it, as it will visit gardens.  He said, "I was up in Caithness at the start of Scottish Biodiversity Week and did a talk at the Park Hotel in Thurso. I will be up again in the summer."
The blog is at

22 September 08
The Peatlands Partnership - Newsletter - Issue 2 (Pdf)
The second edition of the Peatlands Partnership Newsletter has some updates and several interesting articles including -
A Look At Developments At Forsinard by Norrie Russell
Looking Back To Look Forward by Dr. Althea Davies with details of her latest research project.
Wind Farms In Caithness & Sutherland by Andrew Coupar
Wind Farms On Blanket Bog by Andrew Coupar
Forsinain Trail Opening
Keeping the Bogs Healthy
by Norrie Russell
The Peatlands Project will soon have a new web site.  The Peatlands Project has been consulted about information to be on show at Caithness Horizons in the refurbished Thurso Town Hall.
Peatlands Partnership Page

Peatlands Partnership
The Peatlands Partnership was formed at the end of 2006 following the completion of the LIFE Peatlands Project and aims to develop and build on that project.  The first newsletter is available and was published in Nov 2007

5 July 07
Local Ranger Features
In Highland Naturalists Exhibition
Local Ranger Mary Legg is one of 30 naturalists featuring in a three month long exhibition at SNH headquarters in Inverness. Leading figures from the Highlands’ natural history community gathered at Great Glen House in Inverness recently to celebrate 300 years of recording the area’s nature and wildlife. The event was the launch of Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) Highland Naturalists exhibition and website – one of SNH’s key contributions to the Year of Highland Culture 2007 events programme. The exhibition, officially opened by Highland Council Convener, Sandy Park, tells the stories of people who have passionately studied and recorded the area’s landscape and wildlife with images, writings, sounds and artefacts. It is now on display for free public viewing at the SNH headquarters in Inverness over the next three months.

12 June 07
Lesser Butter Fly Orchid
People throughout Scotland are being asked to report sightings of one of Scotland's most beautiful and rare native flowers in a bid to help ensure its survival. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is asking people to lend their support to a survey by looking out for the Lesser Butterfly Orchid's distinctive creamy-white petals as they walk in fields, over hills and along roadside verges. Such is the Lesser Butterfly Orchid's perilous status that it in January 2007 the Minister for the Environment announced that it would become one of 32 species for special action under Scotland's Species Action Framework and it is being considered as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species.

24 May 07
Free Wildflower Seeds To Help Save Scottish Native Butterfly

Scots everywhere are being asked to help conserve native species of butterfly by planting butterfly-friendly wild flowers around their neighbourhoods. As part of Scottish Biodiversity Week (19th - 27th May) to encourage people's involvement in conservation Scottish Biodiversity Forum (SBF) is giving away 15,000 free packs of specially selected wild flower seeds to create new habitats for many species of butterfly including the orange-tip.

24 May 07
Scottish Outdoor Access Guides For Young People

Scotland's Young People Map Out The Route To responsible Outdoor Access

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has launched a new initiative to ensure the country's young people develop a responsible attitude to enjoying Scotland's outdoors. SNH has produced two specially developed Activity Guides based on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which will be arriving through letterboxes this week. SNH is sending out the guides to support schools and youth organisations and raise awareness and understanding of access rights and responsibilities with 8 - 14 year olds in a fun and entertaining way.

The innovative resources include fun and colourful teaching aids such as a 'Crack the Code' dial, posters, photo cards and interactive video to help youngsters understand their rights and responsibilities. The Activity Guides help teachers and leaders to set scenarios that encourage young people to think about the three key principles of the Code: respect the interests of other people; care for the environment and take responsibility for your own actions.

Sharon Fraser of SNH hopes the new packs will help prepare young people for a lifetime's responsible enjoyment of Scotland's outdoors. She says: "A fun and flexible approach is key to helping young people engage with these important rights and responsibilities. These new resources will be particularly useful in helping to prepare young people for an outdoor activity. For schools, the activities add value to a number of curricular areas and cross-curricular themes of the Curriculum for Excellence, including Citizenship and Learning Outdoors."

The resources were developed by the Educational Resource Partnership, Inverness, and their launch follows eight months of development and testing with young people. The company's Liz Balharry believes the format of the teaching packs will challenge young people to think about access issues. "The activities have been designed to be thought-provoking and encourage debate. To achieve this we have included a range of approaches from role-play and debate to games and creative activities"

Rangers, access professionals and others who expressed an interest in the resources via www.outdooraccess-scotland.com  (such as teachers, Scout leaders and Duke of Edinburgh Award leaders) will receive their copy this week. To request a copy, email [email protected] or call 01738 458 557.

26 April 07
Bumblebee Survey
If anyone in Caithness sends photos of Bumble bees to this survey we would be pleased to run the photos here also.  email them to [email protected] If you get the name of the bee later we can add it.

22 January 07
Caithness Marine Mammals Medics
Learn more about Whales and Dolphins seen around the Caithness coast.

4 October 06
Plenty Of Fungi Around In Caithness This Year

OK so you came up with a few lovely photos of Butterflies Bees and Bugs in Caithness This summer.  So we thought we would try you out on Caithness fungi.  One photo here is of the Giant Puff Ball - Calvatia gigantea and the ones in the photo are bigger than a football, although well past their best last weekend when the photo was taken.  If anyone else has taken photos of Caithness fungi this last few months and would like to share them send them in for the gallery to [email protected] 

26 September 06
Bumper Year For Butterflies, Bees & Bugs in Caithness
Thanks to Gordon Mackie for this collection of photos of the Butterflies, Bees and Bugs he has come across this summer.  Certainly the great weather this year has seen a huge number of colourful butterflies in Caithness Gardens and the flowers have been attracting the bees.  If anyone else has been out taking photos of Bugs or Butterflies this year send them in and we will add them to this photo gallery.  Let's see what has been happening in the insect world this summer.  Send photos for this section to [email protected]

28 August 06
The Peatlands – A Brighter Future
The Pentland Hotel, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland
4th – 5th October, 2006
The LIFE Peatlands Project
www.lifepeatlandsproject.com has been operating in Caithness and Sutherland for over 10 years through two phases (1994-98 and 2001-06) of EU LIFE grant focussing on the restoration and conservation of the world important 'Flow Country' peatlands. Led by RSPB Scotland in partnership with SNH, Forestry Commission Scotland, CASE and Plantlife International, significant achievements have been made not only in the restoration of areas of damaged peatland, but also in raising awareness and developing an agreed strategic plan for the future of the peatland area. Much work has also been done in trying to promote the area as a valuable visitor resource demonstrating, of course, that this unique landscape has an economic value if managed sustainably.

The conference will be over 2 days with Day 1 (Wednesday 4th October) dedicated to talks, and Day 2 to optional field visits. There will be a conference dinner on the Wednesday evening and there will also be session dedicated to viewing delegates poster / displays.
Click Here for more details about the conference

17 August 06
Lungwort Lichen Survey
A long term survey into a species of lichen that indicates levels of air pollution has been started in Caithness. The survey has been organised through Highland Council's Planning and Development Service Countryside Rangers as part of the Caithness Countryside Volunteer programme of events. Caithness Countryside Volunteers commenced the survey last Tuesday 8th August under the direction of experts in the field, Sandy and Brian Coppins. "Lobaria pulmonaria" is a special type of lichen species found in Britain. It is a leafy shaped lichen with the undersides resembling the insides of lungs and therefore better known and remembered as lungwort. Although common in the West, the species is rare in Caithness.

7 May 2006
Focus On Nature And Art

If you have an interest in Nature and Art but have no idea here or how to start bringing them together then a series of opportunities have been brought together by local Artist Julian Smith and widely acclaimed local natural history photographer Ken Crossan.  First a Caithness Natural History Photographic Competition with the chance to have some first hand instruction from Ken Crossan.  Julian Smith will also be running a drawing class for beginners on Animals and birds or you can check out the Artsmith exhibition at his studio which has now started.  Leave time when visiting his studio and visit St John's pool there to see the fantastic range of wild birds.

30 March 06
Signs Of Spring 2006 On And Around St John's Pool
Latest bird sightings from this bird place in Caithness

16 March 06
Birdwatching News
A new section to see the latest birdwatching news.  Julian Smith has set up a new web site for Birdwatching and here at Caithness.org we are linking to the new site with a new section on Birdwatching for anyone to send in items of news about birds in Caithness.  Over at the new site you can find details about drawing classes, a photography competition and much more.  We will be updating with news linked to the new site and other items that are sent in by anyone with an interest in birds locally.  If you have any nice photos for the section email them to [email protected] or contact Julian Smith at his new web site.

21 February 06
Almost 30 volunteers turned out to help plant trees at Dunnet forest last Saturday. The planting was organised by Highland Council's Planning and Development Service countryside rangers and Dunnet Forest community forester, Jon Hollingdale as part of the Caithness Countryside Volunteer and Caithness Critter programme of events. A mix of approximately 400 broadleaf trees were planted, staked and guarded in a recent felled area. The event was part of the Community Service Volunteers Action Earth supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. After the tree planting, all the volunteers rested at the Northern Sands Hotel where a sandwich lunch and refreshments were provided.

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