Scotland - 04/10/2021
Exploring Alladale Wilderness Reserve
Alladale Wilderness Reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife and habitats in the Scottish Highlands. NatureSpy have been assisting the Reserve’s camera trap surveys this year with equipment and survey support. Earlier this year, we visited the reserve to lend a hand with the camera surveys and we’ve also had a peek at the footage that’s coming in, read on to learn more about Alladale and see some of their stunning camera trap footage…

Blog by Ed Snell, Project Support & Development – NatureSpy

Deep in the Scottish Highlands, Alladale Wilderness Reserve covers 23,000 acres across a mosaic of habitats that include coniferous and deciduous woodlands, peatland, heath and grasslands. These habitats support a diverse range of species, from wading birds and water voles in the wetlands, pine martens and foxes in the woodlands, to mountain hares and birds of prey on the hilltops. Ambitious rewilding efforts at the reserve have seen over a million trees planted to date, helping the area to become increasingly biodiverse in years to come. Springwatch viewers may already be familiar with the reserve, as it was one of the featured locations this year.

We’re currently working with Alladale to support on their camera trap surveys that are enabling the Reserve to learn more about its wildlife and gather lots of engaging footage in the process. This is being carried out through a species inventory survey with camera traps that cover a diverse range of habitats, enabling identification of which species are present and where. Although mammals are the key focus for this type of survey, a good amount of footage is gathered for bird species too. This survey approach helps to understand the status of a wide range of species and guide conservation efforts moving forward. Camera traps have proven particularly useful in helping the reserve to learn more about the elusive species in the area, including mountain hares, water voles and pine martens.

Back in Spring, we visited the Reserve for a tour of the camera trap sites and to work with reserve’s rangers on camera trap setups, helping to capture as diverse a range of wildlife on the cameras as possible. There are some challenging locations for camera traps around the reserve, especially in the more exposed areas where there aren’t so many convenient trees to attach cameras to! These are important areas for camera trapping though, as they are unique habitats that support species like water voles in the wetlands and mountain hares on the hilltops.

Mountain hare on camera trap in Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland

Mountain hares can be a challenging species to monitor in this terrain as they’re more active in higher altitudes and at night. As a result, mountain hares are rarely seen on the reserve. One of the major benefits of camera traps is the ability to leave them unattended for weeks and even months at a time – this has helped the reserve to gain an insight into mountain hare activity.

We’re looking forward to seeing the findings of Alladale’s species inventory survey later in the year. With a species inventory survey, it’s not uncommon to find some surprise species that you didn’t know were there, but it’s also important to pay attention to what’s missing too. These insights help with guiding conservation efforts and developing further surveys that may target a particular species or habitat to learn more. We’ll keep you posted with Alladale’s findings!

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