Lusan a tha a’ Casg na Fala / Blood-staunching Plants

Tha grunn lusan dùthchasach air an tomhas mar èifeachdach ann a bhith a’ casg sileadh fala à lotan / A number of our native plants have been traditionally used to help prevent blood flow from skin wounds

Lusan a tha a’ Casg na Fala

Bha na Gàidheil riamh measail air cuid de lusan agus fungasan mar leigheas airson sruthadh fala air taobh a-muigh na bodhaig. Nam measg tha am maraiche no scurvygrass, lus beag a tha a’ fàs os cionn tiùrr a’ chladaich, a’ chaochag (common puffball) ann an cruth pùdair agus sailm de fhreumhaichean na deanntaig. Tha an slàn-lus (ribwort plantain) agus cuach Phàdraig (greater plantain) càirdeach do chèile, agus bha iad air an aithneachadh gu traidiseanta mar lusan a ghabhadh cleachdadh (duilleagan agus sùgh) airson fuil a chasg. Agus bha co-dhiù aon chraobh am measg nan lusan casgaidh. Tha sailm-dharaich ann am Faclair Dwelly, a’ ciallachadh sailm (decoction) de rùsg an daraich a chuireas casg air sileadh fala.

Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) growing in the Battleby meadow ©Lorne Gill/SNH

©Lorne Gill/SNH

Ge-tà, ’s e Lus Chasgadh na Fala no Lus na Fala (mar a chanar ris anns an Eilean Sgitheanach) as cliùitiche am measg nan Gàidheal mar luibh dhùthchasach a chuireas stad air sruthadh fala. Faodar na duilleagan iteach dhen lus seo (ris an canar yarrow ann am Beurla) a bhith air am pasgadh timcheall lot no faodar an suathadh air an lot airson sùgh leigeil asta. No faodar na duilleagan a chagnadh sa bheul, agus uisge-beòil a leigeil air an lot. Airson stad a chur air leum-sròine, bhiodh na seann Ghàidheil a’ blàthachadh duilleagan an luis ann am bainne, agus an lionn a shuathachadh air taobh a-staigh nan cuinneanan le ite.

Bu chòir a bhith soilleir gu bheil Lus Chasgadh na Fala, agus na lusan eile a chaidh ainmeachadh shuas, air am moladh airson lotan air a’ chraiceann a-mhàin. Cha bu chòir an gabhail air an taobh a-staigh no san stamaig ach a-mhàin le comhairle bho chuideigin a tha fìor eòlach air leigheas.

Oak sapling. ©Lorne Gill For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Libary on tel. 01738 444177 or

©Lorne Gill

Blood-staunching Plants in Gaelic Scotland

There are traditions among Scotland’s Gaels of usage of a number of native plants and fungi in order to staunch blood-flow. Species include the seashore maraiche ‘scurvygrass’, powdered caochag ‘puffball fungus’ and a decoction of the roots of the deanntag ‘nettle’. The ribwort plantain is slàn-lus ‘healing plant’ in Gaelic and, like its relative the greater plantain, cuach Phàdraig ‘St Patrick’s quaich’, it was recognised as another species whose leaves and juice, applied to a wound, could stem a haemorrhage. And trees were not entirely ignored. Dwelly’s Gaelic dictionary defines sailm-dharaich as a decoration of oak bark, used to staunch blood.

A flowering stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). ©Lorne Gill/SNH

©Lorne Gill/SNH

However, it is the delicate feathery-leaved yarrow that is most highly regarded as a cure for haemorrhage. Among the six recorded Gaelic names for the species, two refer specifically to that property – Lus Chasgadh na Fala ‘the plant that stops the blood’ and, on Skye, Lus na Fala ‘the blood plant’. The leaves can be wrapped around a cut or rubbed on the wound to release the juices. Alternatively, the leaves were chewed and the saliva dropped on the wound. To stop a bleeding nose, the plant would traditionally be warmed in milk, and the solution applied to the inside of the nostrils with a feather.

It should be noted that yarrow, and other plants mentioned above, are recommended only for external usage e.g. wounds to the skin. They should not be taken internally without expert advice.

Posted in Gaelic, Scottish Natural Heritage

Green Health Week gets underway

This week we’re celebrating Green Health Week! Here we take a look at what green health is, why it’s so important and what we’re doing to encourage it.

Scotland’s great outdoors is outstanding and provides a wealth of amazing places for physical activity and connecting with nature – all of which we know can help improve our health and well-being.

The good news is that lots of people are already getting active in the outdoors, with the Scottish Household Survey showing that participation in ‘recreational walking’ increased from 56% to 70% of adults in Scotland between 2007 and 2017.

With continued pressure on public sector resources, encouraging more engagement in ‘green exercise’ such as outdoor recreation, relaxation, volunteering, play and learning, gardening and active travel can also help to bring a range of social benefits.

BallaterHW-D1677 social

©Lorne Gill/SNH

Scottish Natural Heritage, with partners including NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Forestry, is working to show how greater use of the outdoors can help to tackle some of our big health challenges like physical inactivity, mental health issues and health inequalities.

Four pilot Green Health Partnerships, led by the area health boards and local authorities, have been established in Lanarkshire, North Ayrshire, Dundee and Highland. They bring together health, environment, leisure services, transport, education, sport, academia, local communities and the voluntary sector to show how the outdoors – Our Natural Health Service – can support local healthcare priorities.

In a nutshell, the partnerships aim to co-ordinate increased physical activity and improvements in mental health through helping people engage with the natural environment.


© G.Logan/SNH

A great example of this in action is the Family Fresh Air Club, a project being promoted by the Dundee partnership. Managed jointly by the council’s Ranger Service and the Community Learning & Development Team, this project helps young families at risk of social isolation in deprived areas of Dundee to access green health activities in local greenspaces.

Elsewhere, in the first year of the Lanarkshire partnership, more than 400 health and social care staff received advice about the benefits of green exercise and how to connect patient groups such as people with mental health problems, addictions, brain injuries and a range of long term conditions to local nature-based projects.

As well as Green Health Partnerships, other elements being developed include information and communications, research and the NHS Greenspace for Health projects which build on the previous NHS Greenspace Demonstration Project.

Ayr Hospital


Communicating the benefits of green exercise to the public, as well as awareness raising across the healthcare sector, is vitally important.  SNH has helped with the production of a short animated film to be used in a range of healthcare and leisure settings to promote the use of green places and spaces for health improvement.

The outdoors and green exercise are not remedies for all our nation’s health issues, but they can play a valuable role, and be part of achieving a healthier Scotland.

Find out more at: Our Natural Health Service

Green Health Week linear green



Posted in green health | Tagged , , , , ,

Why does SNH issue licences?

Here we take a look at SNH’s varied – and sometimes complex – licensing work.

Wildlife Photographer.©Lorne Gill

Licenses can be issued for wildlife photography © Lorne Gill/SNH

From otters to ospreys and badgers to bats, we’re a nation of wildlife lovers, and at SNH, we feel the same.

We work hard to protect our wildlife in Scotland and help nature thrive. The vast majority of what we do involves protecting our wildlife’s habitats, encouraging people to enjoy nature, funding wildlife projects and supporting volunteers.

Our licensing work is hugely varied. We issue licences to allow rescuers to move stranded whales into deeper waters, and to move hedgehogs on the Uists to allow wading birds to breed successfully.

We issue licenses for scientists to fit electronic tags to birds of prey to monitor and better understand their movements, and to professional photographers so that they can get closer to birds.  In both cases, we attach conditions so the birds’ wellbeing is protected. Often the work that we licence allows improvements to be made for protected species by providing better habitats for wildlife such as for bats and water voles during development works.

Roger Broad tagging Seea Eagle chick©Laurie Campbell/SNH

Ringing a wild Scottish Sea Eagle ©Laurie Campbell/SNH

But our job is complicated. Sometimes wildlife can cause problems for people and SNH also has a legal duty to help.

For example we issue licences to prevent bird strikes on aircraft at airports, to prevent serious damage to farmers’ crops to protect their livelihoods. We have issued licences for the removal of nests from boiler air ducts, and to remove birds trapped in supermarkets and places where food is prepared.

One example where control is sometimes needed to preserve public health and safety is gulls. Gulls sometimes nest around power stations, as the relative peace of these locations is ideal habitat for them. But for the staff working around very dangerous equipment, the presence of gulls can make maintenance impossible to complete. There is very little that can be done to gull proof sites like this, as the electrical equipment can’t be covered. In these cases – provided everything possible has been done to minimise the issue – we will grant a licence to kill certain gull species.

We often grant licences in case they’re needed – but that doesn’t mean control will definitely take place. For instance, we have issued a small number of licences to remove swifts over the past years to airports. We insist that airports develop management plans to minimise risks, but we grant licences to permit control in case they find it is absolutely necessary – if human life may be endangered. We know if this is the case, airports will need to act quickly. Swifts are the fourth most common group of birds recorded in airstrikes in the UK over recent years. But to date, no birds have been killed under these licences.

We grant licences for these reasons if, and only if, all other methods have been attempted. Lethal control is always a last resort. It’s also only allowed if a species isn’t at risk and any licensed activity won’t risk the population as a whole in Scotland.

We are confident that all activities carried out under these licences do not affect the conservation status of any of our native species.

Pipistrelle bat ©Lorne Gill SNH

Pipistrelle bat ©Lorne Gill/SNH

As a Scottish Government agency, our licences are publicly funded.  We have given careful consideration to changing our approach and charging for licences. But there is compelling evidence this is not cost effective and could lead to increased wildlife crime. For example, casework involving bats in houses often requires working with vulnerable people experiencing distress with bat roosts in their property. Charging for a licence that some cannot afford could lead to people taking the law into their own hands – killing a protected species, where a humane approach which actually benefits bats could have been undertaken instead, through the licensing system we have in place right now.

Every country in Europe has the ability to control wildlife in the ways we’ve described. Laws recognise there are situations where licences can and should be granted. But these licences should never jeopardise our wider conservation aims.

It’s our role to balance public safety, while making sure Scottish wildlife and nature is protected, and can thrive for future generations.  It’s a responsibility we take very seriously. Our work is regularly reviewed and we report to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Europe every year, so we can continue our commitment to getting the balance right.

Licence assessments are carried out by experienced professionals working to published guidance, all available on

Posted in wildlife management | Tagged , ,

Taking the Lead on Responsible Dog Handling

As weather continues to improve you may be looking for new places to explore but remember that dogs and livestock rarely mix well. This week we have a guest post from Karen Ramoo, a Policy Adviser in Access, Conservation & Wildlife Management from Scottish Land and Estates.  Below, she highlights the impacts that livestock worrying incidents can have on everyone and the long lasting issues that land owners can face.

A ewe with her lambs near Auchterarder, Perthshire. Ian Paterson / Scottish Viewpoint

A ewe with her lambs near Auchterarder, Perthshire.
©Ian Paterson / Scottish Viewpoint

From our agricultural lowlands to our valleys and more remote and rugged countryside, Scotland has stunning scenery and landscapes offering plenty to see and do. The open access rights that allow people to enjoy our natural environment go hand-in-hand with responsible use. Fortunately, both are respected the vast majority of the time.

However, issues such as out-of-control dogs being allowed to ‘worry’ livestock, can sometimes arise. While ‘Worrying’ may sound a bit light-hearted, it is anything but for the animals or for farmers and other land managers.

The term can refer to attacks on sheep, cattle, camelids- including alpacas and llamas, and horses – all which are, of course, devastating in themselves. However, it also includes chasing, which can also lead to all sorts of harm, ranging from stress to miscarriage in pregnant animals. It’s important to note that such incidents cause perfectly avoidable suffering alongside other welfare issues for livestock.

© A calf in Stronsay, Orkney.
Iain Sarjeant / Scottish Viewpoint

Looking at the human impact, there’s often a lot of distress for farm or land workers who sometimes have to deal with multiple dead or horribly injured livestock. As well as the emotional effect or this, the financial implications can be severe, such as vets’ bills or the loss of valuable livestock.

Rural insurer, NFU Mutual, reported that in the last two years costs from livestock worrying have more than quadrupled in Scotland with the total cost to the industry in 2017 estimated at £1.6m. While insurance can cover the cost of replacing stock killed and the treatment of injured animals, there is still a knock-on effect on breeding programmes and business practices that can take years to overcome.

Scottish Land and Estate is aware of one estate farm located close to Edinburgh that has had enough and has taken drastic action. Ground that was previously used to graze sheep has now cleared its livestock following the death of 22 animals over 12 months from dog attacks. The farm is now left with 22 acres of ground that is now long grass and no immediate plans as to what to do with it.

©Lorne Gill/SNH

Blackface Sheep, Tayside and Clackmannanshire Area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Most dog owners are responsible but regrettably some are not. Letting them stray or run loose not only runs the risks already mentioned, but also puts dogs’ lives in danger. Whether people believe their beloved pet wouldn’t harm another animal,  it’s just not worth taking the chance.

We encourage all dog owners to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which provides advice such as keeping dogs on a short lead or close at heel when livestock are around, not taking them into fields where there are young animals, and generally staying as far away as possible.

Land managers want everyone to enjoy the countryside and – with a bit of caution and common sense – for dogs and livestock to exist safely alongside each other.

If you are heading out with your dog, make sure to do so responsibly. If you need more help and advice check out our free online course Responsible Dog Walking in Scotland’s Great Outdoors. Why not show us how you are putting our course or the Scottish Outdoor Access Code into practice using our #TakeTheLead hashtag on social media!

Posted in Uncategorized

SNH seabird scientist on lessons learned in Antarctica

Early this year, I travelled to Antarctica for three weeks, with 79 women from all over the world, in the culmination of a year-long women in science leadership development programme called Homeward Bound. This ground-breaking initiative aims to increase representation of women in senior leadership roles by equipping them with the skills they need to effectively influence decision-making about the future of our world.

Helen Wade - credit Anne Charmantier

SNH marine ornithologist Helen Wade in Antarctica. Photo credit: Anne Charmantier

Nothing can prepare you for the scale and beauty of Antarctica. High quality films and photos don’t do it justice and eventually you run out of adjectives trying to describe it.

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As a seabird scientist, with a love of marine life, I thought my highlight of the expedition would be the Antarctic wildlife. The hundreds of penguins porpoising next to the ship. Or the humpback whales constantly interrupting our workshop sessions as someone would shout ‘whale!’ and 80 women would rush outside to watch them surfacing and diving – close enough to hear the satisfying deep ‘whoosh’ as they breathed out. Or the huge leopard seal stretched out on floating ice only a few meters away. These encounters were almost unbelievable and a huge privilege to experience. But unexpectedly it was the icebergs and glaciers, and the amazing group of women I shared the experience with, that made the deepest impression on me.

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Looking out at the Antarctic landscape from a ship, the deep splits and cracks of the crevasses in the ice sheet, as the ice moulds itself over and between mountains and ridges, are obvious to see. The sharp jagged edges of the ice edge clearly indicate where ice used to be before it sheared away and crashed into the sea. The deep thunder-like rumbles in the Antarctic silence alert you to ice shifting and moving on a massive scale. This all contributes to a deep sensory awareness that Antarctica is a landscape in flow and movement. Not static as it first appears but constantly shifting – imperceptibly, as ice flows like rivers between mountains, and dramatically, as avalanches crash down mountainsides.

Research base - credit Helen Wade

Argentinian research base on the Antarctic continent backed by a huge glacier.
 Photo credit: Helen Wade

The recognition of this sense of movement and flow was bittersweet for me. It was awe-inspiring and exciting to see glaciers calving but also extremely sobering to know human actions are speeding up this process. One day, after being welcomed onto an Argentinian research station, resident scientists pointed out where the edge of a nearby glacier used to be – it now sits hundreds of meters away. It was striking evidence of the human-induced climate change causing the Antarctic Peninsula to warm three times faster than almost anywhere else on earth.

Glacier - credit Helen Wade

A massive glacier with huge crevasses imperceptibly flowing into the sea.
Photo credit: Helen Wade

Visiting Antarctica brought home to me how deeply connected we are to every place on our planet. Even in this remotest of places, with no permanent human population, we are having an impact. The experience has made me seriously question whether we are doing enough to act on climate change. Are we really acknowledging the implications of not acting? And if not, what actions should we be taking to act more quickly and more effectively to preserve the life support system that is our planet?

I came away from the expedition with a strong sense that individuals matter. Climate change may feel overwhelming but we each have an important role to play – in the decisions we make in our daily lives to making sure governments and decision makers know action on climate change is important to us.

Gentoo penguin colony - credit Helen Wade

Gentoo penguin colony with our ship, the MV Ushuaia, in the background.
 Photo credit: Helen Wade

Before leaving for Antarctica, I knew a few of the 79 women I would be sharing a ship with for three weeks but most I had ‘met’ only as thumbnail-size images on monthly video calls over the previous year. So amongst the excitement of arriving in Argentina to meet them there was some trepidation about sharing a relatively small space with so many people I didn’t know. There’s no escape in Antarctica. With no phone signal or easy internet access, it isn’t possible to rely on connection or support from family and friends.

Helen Wade and Rachael Bice

Helen with fellow UK participant, Rachael Bice

However, from day one it was clear I was part of the most supportive, accepting and compassionate community I’ve ever experienced. There was a strong collective sense of wanting each and every woman to succeed, with everyone ready to support in any way they could. Our group ranged widely in age, career stage and cultural background but there was no hierarchy. Instead, we each recognised the value that every person brought to the group – in their unique set of skills, experiences and perspectives. This diversity was recognised as a strength that would help us approach challenges in a cohesive and holistic way.

Being part of this amazing group of brave and passionate women has left me wondering what our world would be like if we had more courageous and respectful leaders? How would our lives be different if we were better able to recognise the value of collective diversity and diverse perspectives? How would embracing this diversity help us make better decisions about the world we live in?

For me, diversity, and a more compassionate, inclusive approach to leadership, is the way forward – especially when we’re working to address the huge challenges we face, like climate change. The more perspectives and ideas we embrace, the more holistic and effective the solutions will be. Women are an essential component of this diversity, which is why initiatives like Homeward Bound that equip women with the skills to lead are so important. We urgently need their voices if we are to create a more sustainable future for us all.

You can read about my pre-Antarctic Homeward Bound programme here.





Posted in Marine, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Skate spotting and eggcase hunting

SNH skate tracking intern Rachel Mawer reflects on a recent trip to the Outer Hebrides and Shetland to raise awareness of some fascinating marine projects.

Skate 1

A skate from the Firth of Lorn © Roger Eaton

Back in November, in conjunction with the Scottish Association for Marine Science, we launched the Skatespotter website. Skatespotter allows anglers to upload photos they have taken of common skate for photo identification based on their spot patterns. At the moment, our skate photo-ID work has been focused in the Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura MPA to monitor the skate population there. However, we are hoping to build a database of common skate for the whole of Scotland. To this end, myself and my colleague Jane travelled to the Outer Hebrides and Shetland recently to meet anglers there and promote the project.

skate 2

One of our regular skippers in the MPA, Ronnie Campbell, taking a photo of a skate © Jane Dodd

In presentations in Stornoway and Lerwick, I gave a brief background on common skate and the past and current work SNH has done on the species in the Marine Protected Area (MPA), before moving on to how anglers can help, by taking photos and submitting them through Skatespotter. The talk finished with some slides giving them a shot at matching skate – it wasn’t as easy as they thought!

The anglers who attended were all very interested in our work and enthusiastic. It was great to be able to meet them and learn what they were willing to share about skate in their area. Even though some had been fishing for skate for years, they were shocked at how little we actually know about common skate. Despite their name, common skate are critically endangered and very rare across much of their former range. Along the west and north coasts of Scotland, and around the Outer Hebrides and Shetland and Orkney, they are still abundant – some even view them as a pest!

skate 3

We match skate based of the shape, size and position of their spot patterns, by looking at similar clusters as circled above ©  Ronnie Campbell

Our photo-ID work in the Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura MPA is an important tool for monitoring the skate population there; through it we can estimate population size and survivability. When we know what parts of the MPA a skate has been caught in, we can also learn a bit about their movements (or lack of!). But, we don’t know much about common skate elsewhere in the country.  This is why it is important that we start to reach out to anglers throughout Scotland and gather data on common skate in different places. Plus, by collecting images from further afield, we may begin to gain an insight into long distance movements in common skate. We’ve already started receiving skate photos from the anglers and hopefully this will be the beginning of a Scotland-wide skate photo ID database.


An eggcase from a lesser spotted dogfish © Mike Arreff

While in the Outer Hebrides, we also promoted the Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt, which helps describe shark, skate and ray species distribution throughout British waters. On North Uist, I met members of some local natural history groups to hunt for eggcases.  Although many were seasoned beach combers, a few were not aware that the “mermaid’s purses” dotted about the beach were in fact the eggcases of sharks and skate. Some sharks and all skate reproduce by laying eggs. Eggcases vary in size and shape, and this tells us what species laid it.

eggcase 2

Hunting for eggcases © Mike Arreff

Recording the location and species of eggcase to the Shark Trust shows what species we get in our waters and where. It also indicates how diverse the shark and skate population is in different areas. Our eggcase hunt was very successful, with most of the group finding something. Hopefully, this event will have made more people aware of what they can find on their local beaches and encourage them to report eggcases to the Shark Trust.


Posted in Marine, Marine Protected Areas | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Èildean ann an Ainmean-àite / Hinds in Place-names

Tha am facal eilid a’ nochdadh gu tric ann an ainmean-àite air a’ Ghàidhealtachd, mar a tha Ruairidh MacIlleathain a’ mìneachadh / The Gaelic name for the red deer hind appears frequently in the Highland landscape, as Roddy Maclean explains.

Èildean ann an Ainmean-àite

Tha am facal eilid gu math cumanta mar eileamaid ann an ainmean-àite, gu h-àraidh ann an sgìrean monadail, agus e a’ dearbhadh cho cudromach ’s a bha am fiadh do na Gàidheil thar an eachdraidh. Na chruth bhunaiteach, tha e a’ nochdadh mar ainm a’ chnuic as àirde ann an Eilean Ghruinneirt ann an Ros an Iar (‘An Eilid’); bha an t-àite sin uaireigin air a chur gu feum mar dheuchainn-lann airson armachd bhith-eòlasach, agus cha robh e fàilteachail do dh’èildean idir!

Red Deer hinds (Cervus elphus) during the rutting season, Isle of Rum NNR. West Highland Area. ©John MacPherson/SNH For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

©John MacPherson/SNH

Na chruth ghinideach iolra, bidh e a’ nochdadh cuideachd mar eilid – mar sin tha Creag nan Eilid ann (Ros an Iar cuideachd), Druim nan Eilid (Na Tròisichean) agus Sgeir nan Eilid (Loch nan Uamh, Àrasaig). Ge-tà, nochdaidh e cuideachd anns a’ chruth èildean, leithid ann an Cnuic nan Èildean (Cnòideart) agus Eilean nan Èildean (Loch Teacuis làimh ri Loch Shuaineart); tha an t-eilean a’ faighinn ainm bho chnoc air tìr-mòr – Tom nan Èildean.

Anns an tuiseal ghinideach shingilte, ’s e (na h-)èilde a chanas sinn, agus tha e anns an dreach sin ann an Cnoc na h-Èilde ann an Ìle, Làirig Èilde (deas air Gleanna Comhann) agus Tom na h-Èilde (Gleann Shannda). Agus tha am buadhair brèagha eilideach (‘làn èildean’) ri lorg ann am Beinn Eilideach (no Beinn Eildeach gu h-ionadail) a tha os cionn Ullapuil ann an dùthaich far an lorgar an ‘damh donn ’s na h-èildean’ fhathast.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus) stags with hinds in rut, Kilmory, Rum NNR.  October ©Laurie Campbell/SNH       G19/ For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177

©Laurie Campbell/SNH

Hinds in Place-names

The word eilid (‘AY-litch’) is common, not only in Gaelic nature poetry, but as a naming element in the Highland landscape, referring to the hind (female) of the red deer, and demonstrating the animal’s importance to the Gaels throughout their history. In its basic form An Eilid ‘the hind’, it is the name of the highest hill on Gruinard Island in Wester Ross, a location once infamous for being a testing site for biological weaponry, and not a happy place for hinds!

Red deer (Cervus elaphus) and their calves, Ru Arisaig, Lochaber ©Lorne Gill/SNH

©Lorne Gill/SNH

In the plural possessive (genitive) form, it can also be eilid – thus we get hill names such as Creag nan Eilid ‘the crag of the hinds’ (also in Wester Ross), Druim nan Eilid ‘the ridge of the hinds’ (Trossachs) and Sgeir nan Eilid ‘the skerry of the hinds’ (Loch nan Uamh near Arisaig). However, it can also appear as èildean as in Cnuic nan Èildean ‘the hills of the hinds’ (Knoydart) and Eilean nan Èildean ‘the island of the hinds’ (Loch Teacuis); the last takes its name from an adjacent mainland hill – Tom nan Èildean.

The singular possessive form ‘of (the) hind’ is (na h-)èilde as in Cnoc na h-Èilde ‘the hill of the hind’ (Islay), Làirig Èilde ‘hind pass’ (Glencoe) and Tom na h-Èilde ‘the knoll of the hind’ in Glensanda. And the lovely adjectival form eilideach ‘abounding in hinds’ is to be found in Beinn Eilideach (locally Beinn Eildeach) above Ullapool in country still inhabited by red deer.

Posted in Gaelic, Scottish Natural Heritage

Badgering away in Scotland

Our guest blogger today, Eddie Palmer, is the chairman of Scottish Badgers. Eddie tells us all about these charismatic animals — and what we can do to help protect them.

6 @SBP Crossing water on fallen tree night SBP cropped - for SM

Copyright @ScotlandBigPicture

Our Scottish badger is the same animal that is found right across Europe and Asia. The oldest badger bone remains found in these islands were carbon-dated to 35,000 years ago. Badgers are between half a metre and a metre in length, and a burrowing animal, with a distinctive black and white face, and dense fur which looks grey. They have a good sense of smell, but very poor eyesight. An extended family, or ‘clan’ can occupy several setts in ancestral territory used for many years.

Sadly, most people have never seen a live badger – only dead ones at the sides of roads at certain times of the year. The experience of seeing badger cubs at play in the spring is truly memorable. Badgers live underground in a maze of tunnels and chambers called setts and come out mainly at night time to feed.

9 @SBP Dry stane dyke cropped

Picture copyright @ScottishBigPicture


  • In Scotland, badgers live only on the mainland, and not on the islands, apart from Arran, where they were introduced by Victorians for sport.
  • Badgers belong to the order known as ‘mustelids’ – together with otters, stoats, weasels and pine martens.
  • Badgers can eat up to 200 worms a night!
  • A badger ‘sett’ is the name for its burrow, and ‘cete’ is one collective noun for a group of badgers.
  • A badger sett can extend for at least 30 metres underground from an entrance.
  • Badgers also use day nests, in the daytime, to relax and sleep.


    Badger cubs at play in the spring. Video credit @ingham_mal

Where badgers live – Badger setts can be anywhere – in woodland, hedgerows, in sand dunes , in open fields, in gardens, and under patios and decking. Any habitation is a sett, and is protected by law. The number of sett entrances does not correspond to the number of badgers inside.  There could be 10 badgers in a three hole sett, and only six animals in a forty hole sett.

Badger Sett.©Lorne Gill/SNH

A badger sett. Copyright SNH/Lorne Gill.

Badger signs – How do we know badgers are around? There are many signs to look for, including newly dug earth (snuffle holes), badger hair in spoil (excavated material found at sett entrances), foraging signs nearby (dug earth), latrines, beaten paths between badger holes, and claw marks on tree branches.

What do badgers eat? – Badgers are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of food, but they mainly eat earthworms. They also feed on insects, larvae, tubers, fruit, nuts, cereal crops, eggs, slugs and fungi. They move slowly over land at night, covering at least half a mile from the sett.

The Badger Year – Sows delay implantation, mating at any time of year, but giving birth in February. This is so there is food for the young when they emerge above ground in early May. During this time, last year’s cubs, the yearlings, are pushed out to fend for themselves and this is why so many get killed on roads. Autumn sees a period of feeding up for the winter, with again more killed on the road as they forage. From November to February, badgers go into ‘torpor’, which isn’t really hibernating, but they do become slower and less active.

There are problems for badgers – They may be disturbed by development, including forestry and agriculture, and badger baiting with dogs still goes on.


  • Reporting road casualties to us on the Scottish Badger website – this is important for finding setts.
  • Telling us about badger setts – we need accurate records in order to protect badgers.
  • Informing us about any possible crimes or disturbance to badgers.


Badgers for Beginners course Falls of Clyde Oct 2016 - small

Participants at a Badgers for Beginners course at the Falls of Clyde.


Posted in badger, biodiversity, citizen science, mammals, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Scottish Natural Heritage Staff Reveal Their Favourite Dog Walks

Scotland has so many great places to walk and what better way to experience them than with a furry friend at your side! With plenty of fantastic options it’s hard to choose where to go so we’ve asked our Scottish Natural Heritage team to suggest their favourite dog walking spots.

Riverside exploring

Meryl Carr, one of our Operations Officers in the Protected Places Team, has found a great spot to stop on her long drives between Inverness and Ullapool.

Meryl’s collie spaniel cross Bess enjoying some time outdoors © Meryl Carr

“As we often travel to Inverness from Ullapool my favourite “on the road to Inverness” walk is the Silver Bridge Circuit along the banks of the Black Water River Alltan Dubh.  This is a Forestry Commission Scotland site with two parking places to choose from. One nestles in the forest at Little Garve, the other is convenient if you just want to park quickly off the main road and get walking, it is by the public toilets on the west side of the main road.

This is a beautiful part of the Black Water river. Waterfalls, pools and fascinating geology keep you occupied as you roam through a  beautiful woodland of silver birch and Scots pine. Loads of blaeberry bushes grow on the woodland floor and in late summer spoil you with succulent, plump berries – guaranteed to give you a purple mouth by the time you have got around. The circuit takes you across the Black Water river at either end of the walk by way of two historic, beautiful stone built bridges from where you can look down on cascading falls. On the east side of the river Forestry Commission Scotland have recently completed a path upgrade giving a lovely walking surface, so if you do not want to take off your ‘about town shoes’ you can be guaranteed of a lovely walk without getting your footwear in a mess.

On the west side of the river the path is more natural (trainers, boots or wellies are best) and meanders through the Scots pine, close to the waterfalls, channels and small gorges. If you are there at the right time you might find Chanterelles or Hedge Hog fungus. In the meantime it is a doggy paradise of smells so both you and the dog return to the car feeling much more relaxed and ready to head to the city or head for home.”

Nature trails and paths can be busy places and attract a whole range of visitors. Approaching something new can be a daunting experience for you and your dog but we have lots of advice to how to safely pass other path users including cyclists, joggers and even those on horseback!

Another great waterside suggestion comes from Erica Knott, our Senior Casework Manager for Marine Energy, who loves her daily route along the River Tay.

Erica Knott

Seula on her morning walk along the River Tay ©Erica Knott

“My black lab, Seula and I walk every day on the North Inch in Perth, along the banks of the River Tay.  It’s a great spot and quite often we are able to spot, kingfishers, otters and seals.”

And, if you’re looking for some panoramic views of the river, Erica recommends a trip to nearby Kinnoull Hill in Perth – a perfect spot to watch the sunrise on a morning dog walk.

Coastal wanders

Beach walks are a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and proved a popular dog walking option for our staff including our Activity Manager for Protected Areas and Surveillance, Andy Dorin, and his 11-year-old Border Terrier, Ivy .

 Janet Hooper

Ivy enjoying some outdoor exploring © Janet Hooper

“One of our favourite walks is Rosemarkie Beach on the Black Isle, north of Inverness and Ivy loves it from the very start when she’s let out the car. As a walk of the “there and back” variety, our route covers the beach that stretches for a mile or so up to an elegant curve of Chanonry Point with views across the Moray Firth to the historic fortification of Fort George and the chance to stop and watch bottle-nosed dolphins leaping after salmon close to shore. The walks heads north across a complex geology of sandstone and metamorphic rocks and there are often waders such as redshank, curlew and oystercatchers at the water’s edge. Sometimes we clamber up the local shaded dell which in spring is carpeted in garlic and other wild flowers for dogs to worm through but it’s a muddy scramble to follow the burn over the rocks. Although the beach is popular, it’s rarely crowded and it’s amazing how half-an-hour in nature brings a smile to everyone’s faces and makes them calmer and more content.”

Want help exploring safely with your pet? Check out our free dog training modules on Responsible Dog Walking in Scotland’s Great Outdoors

Our Policy and Advice Officer for Marine Mammals and Benthic Ecology, Karen Hall, has found a fantastic local beach walk in Shetland that has plenty to keep dog Brodie entertained and out the muddy puddles!

Brodie enjoying Levenwick Beach, Shetland ©Karen Hall

“My favourite dog walking spot is Levenwick Beach, Shetland.  It’s my local beach about 2 kilometres from my house and I can walk down the road passing the neighbours en route. Brodie loves it as he’s half seal/ half dog and has to go in the water wherever it is. Our alternative walks tend to end up with him wallowing in a muddy ditch or peaty pool so the beach is the cleanest option.  He is quite happy swimming laps or trying to retrieve old kelp holdfasts that you throw for him (there tends to be a lack of wood on Shetland) whilst the seals watch on – the only thing we have to watch for is to make sure he’s not in the water when killer whales go by!”

Coastal areas are great places to explore with your dog and encompass much more than just sand! Our fantastic Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve has a great variety of habitats to explore so you can enjoy a morning on the beach and an afternoon on woodland walks and watching wildlife at the lochside.  It’s also a favourite spot for our Outdoor Learning Officer, Penny Martin, and pet Pablo.

“Tentsmuir is a favourite walk, starting from the car park at Tayport. The walk along the forest edge and then on to the beach is magical because the light is always changing. Maybe, we’ll see a peregrine dashing among the whirling flocks of birds. The dunes are a rolling patchwork quilt of colour, a tapestry of plants. Here, there’s lots of space here for the dog to run when it’s quiet, plenty of scents to sniff out, and always wildlife to see. The downsides?  Some people don’t clear up after their dogs especially near the busy Tayport end, and dogs can disturb wading birds particularly in winter. Amazingly though, by the time we’ve reach the beach it can feel empty, just ourselves and a dog under a big sky.”

Adding some variety to your route is a nice way to ensure the morning walk isn’t a slog but remember sometimes it’s important to change a little throughout the year to allow for wildlife seasons too. Our coastlines are important habitats for lots of species so it’s good to be wary of resident or seasonal wildlife. For ground nesting birds, make sure to follow any local guidance to avoid disturbing of nest sites. Dog walkers should also keep well back from seals with their dog on the lead keeping at least 150 metres away. These are beautiful animals to watch but if seals raise their heads when people are in the vicinity, then you are too close and best to continue on your dog walk via an alternative route.

Coastal exploring is also a favourite for Cathie Sunderland, our Unit Administrator for Argyll and Outer Hebrides.

Cathie Sunderland

Scout out enjoying some beautiful sunshine above Ganavan Beach, near Oban © Cathie Sunderland

“This is Scout on the hill above Ganavan Beach just outside Oban. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors and a great place to catch up with some doggy friends and to let Scout have a little time running free. During our walk Scout even manages to find the odd ‘nice bit’ to have a good roll around in…which usually means a bath later. As well as great views across to Morven and Lismore, we also see plenty of rabbits on the walk as well as birds, including the odd Sea Eagle. When things are a bit warmer this is also a lovely spot for butterflies and moths.”

Local greenspace and country parks

Outdoor adventures with your pet are great no matter where you go and local greenspace and parks can also be fantastic places to exercise your four-legged friend. Communications Officer, Suzanne Downey, has a found her favourite route through a local country park.

SNH Staff Dog Walks - Roxy WHW

Roxy loving her daily stroll on a section of the West Highland Way © Suzanne Downey

“We are lucky living close to one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the popular West Highland Way. Set within the super country park in Milngavie (7 miles outside Glasgow) it has miles of footpaths and cycle routes to enjoy. My fave route takes you alongside Mugdock Reservoir, through Mugdock Wood, along Allander Water. The combination of peaceful woodland trails and waterside paths makes for a lovely cycle, run and of course walk with the family pet, fox-red Labrador Roxy.

The park also includes the remains of the 14th-century Mugdock Castle and the ruins of the 19th century Craigend Castle, a Gothic Revival mansion which might look familiar….The Last King was filmed here!  I often run with my dog around the Milngavie Reservoirs (which is a 3 mile loop) on the eastern side of the park. It will take you around the Craigmaddie and Mugdock reservoirs with lovely views and woodland trails to enjoy.”

Having grown up in the area, my young family and I are well aware of the need to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code but it is striking how many visitors or indeed locals are not so knowledgeable or aware.  There are many signs along the way during lambing times or at times of ground-nesting birds to kindly warn dog walkers of the need to put the dog on the lead – why would anyone risk the safety of their pet and other livestock?   The rangers are not trying to spoil or interrupt your walk by advising this – so it is disheartening when many don’t follow these simple set of instructions.   We all want to enjoy the countryside and trails together.”

Country parks and indeed local countryside can be great options for walking the dog but there are some guidelines to follow. As we head into spring remember that you might need to take extra care on your usual local routes as farms and small holdings head into the lambing season. During this time, look out for signs warning you not to enter fields and make sure to take note of animals before you head out. Remember to keep your dog at heel and under proper control around livestock to make sure everyone stays safe on a family dog walk.

The countryside afternoon walkies

Some other top options near Glasgow include around the Campsie Fells north of Glasgow. Our Non-Native Species Officer, Jenny Park, and dog Kelpie, have a few favourite spots around the area but, sadly, the walks aren’t always well looked after.

Kelpie out in some snow weather © Jenny Park

Kelpie out in some snow weather © Jenny Park

Campsie Glen is a steep walk so good for a cardiovascular work out with the dog and the waterfall there creates deep clean pools for doggy paddling. As a popular spot, the only problem with this route is during summer there are a lot of day trippers that do not follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Many camp and leave their litter (and even whole tents!) behind them – as well as remains of food which dogs will make a bee line for and gobble no matter whether it’s harmful to them or not.

Another option is Fin Glen, previously a hill sheep farm but purchased by Forestry Commission Scotland a few years ago so now great for dog walkers!  This walk is less well known than neighbouring Campsie Glen so isn’t spoiled by litter the way that Campsie Glen can be.  It also features a waterfall and pool for doggy (or human) paddling but you have a bit of a hike before you reach it – the reward is that you’ll probably get it to yourself.  Fin Glen has a wilder feel to it so worth the extra hike.  There are plenty pheasant and roe deer in some areas as well as the occasional stray sheep from neighbouring farms so I do need to keep Kelpie on a lead in parts.

There are bins at the start of these walks but not along them so you have to be prepared to carry dog poo with you. “

Sadly, Jenny and Kelpie’s experience of litter isn’t unique to this spot!  Scotland has fantastic access rights which extend to hiking and wild camping but key to this is being responsible and clearing up after your visit. If you plan to camp in a natural area make sure to check the Scottish Outdoor Access Code guidelines on camping. Important things to remember include taking away all your litter, removing all traces of your tent pitch and not causing any pollution in the local area.

Are you a landowner looking for some advice on how to support responsible access? Find help and support from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Hillside hikes and mountain adventures

For those that want to head out on something a little more strenuous there are also a few uphill suggestions from our Scottish Natural Heritage cohort. If you’re in Aberdeenshire, Katie Bain, one of our Planning Advisers, suggests the Bennachie Range as a great spot to explore and is a firm favourite to walk with her dog Mallie.

“This image was taken at sunrise from the top of Bennachie in Aberdeenshire. This is home for me so will always be my favourite spot! There are four official paths to the top. The steepness of these varies so there is something for everyone – the gradual path up from the Rowantree car park is very popular. We also walked up to the top for Hogmanay and there were loads of people up there with their head torches including a bagpiper! Another bonus is that Bennachie also has a great swimming spot nearby.”

This route is also one seconded by our Landscape Advisor, Sarah Fletcher, but she also has a few other great hill paths for those in the area.

“I live in Insch, Aberdeenshire with some top walks right on my doorstep including up to Dunnydeer Hill and around the woodlands to Drumrossie House, Insch. Plus some more just a short drive too such as Bennachie, Tap o’Noth and Boyndie Bay – a beach west of Banff.”

If you are heading on a hill or mountain path remember to be prepared for your journey with suitable resources – and that includes for your furry friend. Long trails are unlikely to have many bin options so remember the poo bags and take them with you. If you can’t find a bin please don’t leave a full poo bag along the route even if it is to collect later as these are rarely picked up again.  Need something more suitable for longer walks? Our Non-Native Species Officer, Jenny Park, recommends neoprene bags designed to clip onto belts or rucksacks. You can also find more about these and how to deal with dog poo when out and about in our free dog training resources.

Tilly on a snowy adventure day Graham Boyle

Tilly on a snowy adventure day ©Graham Boyle

If you are closer to the North-West, our Chief of Staff, Graham Boyle suggests the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail as a top option to take your pet on an outdoor adventure. This route includes woodland areas including ancient Scots pines, amazing views from high peaks and fascinating glacial geology. Look out for dippers splashing in the cascading burns, golden eagles soaring above the ridges and alpine plants clinging to the higher slopes.

Scotland’s nature reserves are great places to visit but remember these areas are carefully managed for nature conservation and to safeguard rare animals and plants. If you are planning to visit one of our reserves take care to avoid damaging the site or disturbing its wildlife by ensuring you follow responsible access guidance. 

Want to ensure you’re exploring responsibly with your dog? Check out our free online course on Responsible Dog Walking in Scotland’s Great Outdoors or if you need to know more about getting out and about check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.  Why not show us your latest adventures and how you are putting our course or the Scottish Outdoor Access Code into practice using our #TakeTheLead hashtag on social media!


Our team have some great suggestions from up and down the country but we’d love to know your favourite dog walking spots! Share them in the comments below.

Posted in country park, Dogs, Farming, paths, Scotland's Great Trails, SNH, Staff profile, Trail, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Get involved on Global Recycling Day

On Global Recycling Day we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on the impact of plastics on our natural world, why recycling is so important and the actions that we can all take to help the environment.

Global Recycling Day 2018 from Global Recycling Day on Vimeo.

The first ever Global Recycling Day took place in 2018 with the aim of celebrating the importance of recycling in securing the future of our planet.

The key message is that by recycling, we can preserve our precious resources and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, which is not only an unsustainable use of natural resources but also produces gases which contribute to climate change.

Recycling is also an important part in preventing pollution in our natural environments.


©Lorne Gill/SNH

We are all increasingly aware of the extent of plastics in the world’s oceans but perhaps not quite so aware of its presence in freshwater.

More research has been undertaken in recent years and we know that microplastics (plastics of less than 5mm in size) can be present at significant levels in freshwaters.

Microplastics are of particular concern because they can be ingested at many different levels throughout the food web much more easily than larger pieces of plastic.

Researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Exeter have sampled rivers and found that microplastics were present in at least half of all aquatic insects in the rivers surveyed.


©Lorne Gill/SNH

The researchers thought that the microplastics came from a variety of sources, including wastewater from sewage works, surface water runoff containing road paint and bits of tyres, and litter.

More recently, the University of Bangor and Friends of the Earth found microplastic in several of Britain’s most well-known lochs and rivers.  The sites they surveyed included two sites in Scotland (Loch Lomond and Falls of Dochart), both of which were found to contain microplastics.

In Scotland we have a target to recycle 70% of waste by 2025, and currently progress stands at 46%.



Encouragingly in 2018 the levels of household waste recycled exceeded the amount sent to landfill in Scotland for the first time, but more action is needed to reach our national recycling targets.

So what can be done to help tackle this problem?

As the organisation tasked with protecting and improving Scotland’s nature, here at SNH we are leading by example in taking action to reduce, re-use and recycle as much as possible, for example by having recycling bins in all our offices, reducing the use of paper and taking steps to eliminate the use of plastic bottles, cups, packaging and cutlery.


© C Webster/SNH

But all of us can take simple steps in our everyday lives to help reduce the amount of plastic that we use and protect our environment.

These include:

  • Try avoiding using plastic for one day and see what changes you can make
  • Use plastic-free teabags
  • Refill your water bottle
  • Switch to plastic free options when they are available. Buy loose fruits and vegetable
  • Bring food and drinks in sustainable containers. Bring your own cup to meetings.
  • Carry a reusable bag with you.
  • Say no to plastic straws and cutlery.
  • Avoid overly packaged items

Global Recycling Day encourages us all to think again about what we are throwing away, and begin to see not just waste, but opportunity.

Raising awareness can lead to crucial action –such as the recent EU policy aiming to ban 90% of microplastic pollutants.

Individuals have as much a role to play as large organisations, so do your bit this Global Recycling Day and celebrate what we’ve achieved so far!


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