News

Town Kids Chose Game Over Gaming  

June 27, 2019

Over 100 children from towns and cities have been ditching phones and tablets to learn rural skills such as venison butchery and sheep shearing.  In the last few years Angus Glens Moorland Group has been hosting educational lessons for groups ranging from schools to Glasgow apprentices.  One hundred and ten kids have enjoyed 25 hours of free education from gamekeepers, shepherds and fishing ghillies, covering everything from roe deer butchery to managing predatory species.

As well as promoting active lifestyles and the hill-to-plate journey of wild food, the lessons have served as an antidote to sedentary hours spent by the children on phones and tablets.  Young participants from one school who were surveyed said they spent, on average, 31 hours a week in front of a screen, with one child admitting to devoting 8.5 hours a day.  And while most town dwelling participants had the countryside on their doorstep, the majority acknowledged they rarely got out to enjoy activity in the hills or to see the resident wildlife.  After learning directly from countryside workers, however, the kids demonstrated higher than usual levels of commitment, motivation and enjoyment; something noted by their teachers.

Last week, Angus Glens Moorland Group was shortlisted for a Developing the Young Workforce Dundee and Angus award for a work placement pilot with Brechin High School.  Their education work has been backed by partners, Scottish Youth and the Countryside Education Trust (SYCET), and kids on recent lessons got a chance to shear a sheep and shoot clay targets .  “I’d like to think these lessons will encourage the parents to be proactive in getting the kids out more,” said one of the teachers. “The kids really enjoyed the lessons. They were there every week, getting back late and putting effort into it.  While the kids were out learning on the local estates, it also gave the organisers the chance to see  how they were responding to a life spent largely outdoors.  One of the children is now considering a land based career, perhaps in gamekeeping.  During the sessions, it was interesting to see kids out of their comfort zones and gaining an insight into our roles in the countryside and life on a working sporting estate,” said Lianne MacLennan of Angus Glens Moorland Group, who developed the learning programme.  “There was one child who said, if they were hungry, they would just put something in the microwave, so it was good to be able to teach them about the health benefits of wild food, the management which helps produce it and how it is then prepared. The kids visited a game larder and saw demonstrations of roe deer butchery. They enjoyed a barbecue, prepared by Gamechanger BBQ, of slow cooked rabbit tacos, venison koftas and pheasant pitas. They experienced a more modern way of cooking game which helped to connect them to the food.”

Organisers were keen to offer the children a grassroots view of the countryside that did not shy away from realities.  “Some of the kids started off like blank pages but left with a better understanding of what happens in the countryside, from biting ticks to casting a fly to why a deer stalker will select an old or injured animal to control.  Because the lessons were entirely led by real working people, participants weren’t given a romantic view, but they seemed to appreciate that honesty more,” added Lianne MacLennan.

During 4 sessions with three local High Schools, topics such as species identification, deer management and heather burning were covered.  One of the pupils wrote that they got the chance to see things they would not normally encounter in the town such as the amount of birds and wildlife.

Another wrote that the lessons had made them more ‘mindful about wildlife’ and how ‘meat is prepared’.

Grouse Moors May Be The Curlew's Last Refuge

April 19, 2019

An international scientist has claimed the ability of the endangered Curlew to cling on in Scotland and beyond could lie in the hands of gamekeepers managing key moorland habitats.  Dr Daniel Hoffman, a certified biogeographer with Game Conservancy Deutschland, was speaking ahead of the second World Curlew Day, which takes place this Sunday (April 21st).

He has studied Curlew and other globally threatened wading birds in Germany and Scotland for 4 years, measuring relative breeding success.  After assessing 2018 results, he believes management undertaken by gamekeepers for red grouse is helping sustain core Curlew populations, with ramifications for the species overall.  The UK supports about a quarter of the world’s entire Curlew population yet, while numbers in Scotland are comparatively good, they have still declined 60 percent since 1994.

On Scotland’s moors, where Curlew and other conservation-listed wading birds are known to breed well, gamekeepers are managing to hold onto populations although declines are still being witnessed.

Last year, cameras set by Dr Hoffman and his research team at Glenogil Estate in Angus picked up 20 Curlew nests successfully breeding chicks from a possible 22.  Lapwings, Golden Plover and Oystercatcher also fared well from records of 148 nests, with around 100 nests being monitored with cameras.

“I am sure gamekeeping plays a major role in the conservation of the Curlew, not in Scotland but in the whole of Britain,” said Dr Hoffman.  “This is because in non—keepered areas you don’t have this level of successful breeding.  From studies that we can compare with our German data from last year, 2018 at Glenogil was one of the best breeding situations I have ever seen or read about. For example, we found 22 Curlew nests, with 20 being successful.  If you lose the gamekeepers in Scotland, you will lose lots of Curlews. I am sure of this, perhaps up to 80 percent in the next few years. The breeding success depends on the management you do on the landscape.”

Previous science has shown that legal predator management of crows, stoats and weasels by trained gamekeepers using approved traps benefits more than just grouse for shooting parties.

Limiting the numbers of predators which can eat the chicks and eggs of waders leads to better breeding success, especially when combined with strip burning of heather.  The creation of habitat mosaics of different aged heather on the moor provides cover for nesting as well as nutrition for chicks through the hatching of insects and plant regrowth.

Dr Hoffman added: “If you only look at the surface, the economic factor of grouse shooting is dominant but, after working here for 4 years, I know the benefits on the other side. You have the birds and great hatching success you never find without any gamekeeping. There are adders and so many different other species.”

 

Across moors in Angus, Grampian, Tayside, the Southern Uplands, Speyside, Tomatin and Loch Ness-side, gamekeepers and their families have been jotting down Curlew presence whilst going about their work this week.  On 7 Angus estates, spot counts found 454 Curlew. On 8 Grampian estates, 195 were spotted while 4 estates in Tomatin spied 77 whilst going about their daily tasks.

Lianne MacLennan, Spokesperson for Scotland’s regional moorland groups, said: “The last thing gamekeepers in the groups want is for further declines in these special birds and it has been great to welcome them back. Everyone is keen to support World Curlew Day.”

Angus Gamekeepers Revamp Playgroup Garden

April 19, 2019

A group of Angus gamekeepers have come together to help save a community playgroup a four figure sum for the encouragement of outdoor learning.  For some time, officials at Edzell Playgroup have been costing out a revamp of the gardens used by the kids for outdoor play.  However, the quotes they received were too large for the not-for-profit charity to foot alone.  Now, thanks to the ‘elbow grease’ and willingness from some local gamekeepers, the garden has been given a make-over, with the labour estimated to be worth around £3000.

One of the gamekeepers’ kids attends the nursery, with more due to start next year, and it was through this connection the local estate workers learned of the playgroup’s need.  Around 20 gamekeepers from Angus Glens Moorland Group (AGMG), devoted a day of their time in the snow to move sheds, lay new bark, paint fences and lay a path.  Local firm Rosehill Timber kindly donated the bark for the flooring.

 

Kay Vincent, from the Playgroup, said: “The Edzell Playgroup garden project has been in the pipeline for some time across numerous committees and, unfortunately, the quoted costs has meant that we have struggled to raise enough funds to start the work.  Thanks to generous help from AGMG, who kindly donated many man hours and materials in challenging weather, we were finally able to take some huge strides towards completing the work.  The outdoor area is a huge asset, not only to the playgroup but also the church and wider community and it will be exciting to see the children enjoying the space in the coming months.  We cannot thank everyone enough.”

Gamekeeper Ali Brown, whose son Jamie attends the playgroup, said the helpers were happy to take an afternoon away from the moors for a good cause.  “It’s important for the little ones to be able to get outside in the fresh air and have a good, safe area to play in. The lads were only too happy to get involved. They appreciate the role local playgroups, nurseries and schools play in keeping communities going.”

Last year, 4 AGMG members helped tidy up the gardens at Tannadice Nursery School which had become overgrown after council maintenance budgets were cut.  The gamekeepers spent several hours getting to work on trees and bushes with saws and leaf blowers.  The group also helped bring a ‘lost’ garden at a care facility in Brechin back to use.  Staff connected to The Dalhousie Centre contacted Angus Glens Moorland Group requesting assistance to overhaul a garden which had been overgrown for years.

Twelve gamekeepers from local estates devoted a day to overhauling the outside areas.

Five loads of garden waste and cuttings were removed, with the keepers using chainsaws, strimmers, leaf blowers, tractors and trailers, eventually revealing a garden built on several levels.

Angus Game Celebration Raises Thousands For Air Ambulance

November 23, 2018

A celebration of the journey of local game from hill to dinner plate by chefs and gamekeepers in Angus has raised over £5000 for a lifeline rural service.  The event at Rottal Steading, Glen Clova, saw game meat - sourced from the glens and fields of Angus - cooked for guests by award winning chef Adam Newth of Tayberry Restaurant.

Local gamekeepers, whose year-round stewardship provided the venison, rabbit, grouse and pheasant, served 122 guests and answered questions about the origin of the meat and its benefits.

Proceeds from an auction and ticket sales for the evening, which paired game with wine and gins from Angus gin maker, The Gin Bothy, saw £5,443.50 raised for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

Attendees, previously unaware of how to prepare and cook fresh game, have now vowed to use the sustainable local produce more often.

The event was organised by Angus Glens Moorland Group, whose efforts in providing game for care and homelessness charities, in partnership with Grampian Moorland Group, led to a ‘Working with Communities’ award earlier in 2018.  Venison is lower in fat and higher in protein and iron than beef whilst pheasant contains high levels of iron, protein and vitamin B (6). 

Co-Ordinator Lianne MacLennan said: “Promoting game, its taste and health benefits, is a passion of ours. It is the management of the land which brings the food to the table and we want more people to be enjoying the benefits of what is on their doorstep, particularly those who have not tried it before, or cooked with it.  To raise so much money whilst doing so was excellent. All the game was supplied by local estate gamekeepers.”

Chef Adam Newth, who sources game from the Angus glens, gave a cookery demonstration using red grouse, alongside Lewis Donegan of The Dundee Cooking Academy.  “Chefs are only as good as the produce they use. These wonderful wild products should be celebrated more often,” said the Arbroath-raised chef, whose Broughty Ferry restaurant won Contemporary Restaurant of the Year at the Scottish Food Awards last year.

Attendees enjoyed cured venison tartar, poached rabbit and pheasant breast and were given a ‘Game for Giving’ goodie bag and recipe cards, so they could play ‘Masterchef’ at home.  In a message of thanks to the organisers, on attendee wrote: “It was great to hear what is done with the game and how it is promoted. With the gift to take home, I will endeavour to make it taste as good as it did on the night, but I may fall short!”

Robin Leslie Melville, who lives locally,  said: “It was really good to see such a celebration of stunning game dishes and to see it all being put together by the very people who manage the hills. The Air Ambulance is also a very important service, saving lives, in remote areas.”

‘Otto' The Starving Owl Saved by Gamekeepers

September 25, 2018

A young owl brought back from the brink by worried gamekeepers has been found flourishing after being released successfully back into the wild in Angus.  The barn owl, nicknamed by its rescuers as ‘Otto’, was discovered on ground at the edge of a garden, lying beside its dead sibling.  When gamekeepers found the weak owl, they feared starvation, with many species’ prey this year suffering in the late snows which also brought the crippling ‘Beast from the East’.

Barn owls, which eat voles, mice and rats, are a Schedule 1 protected species, on conservation’s amber list, and there are only thought to be 4000 pairs in the UK.  Seventy five per cent of young die in their first year and gamekeepers took the vulnerable bird and immediately placed it within a special box so to avoid it becoming accustomed to humans.  From there, they enlisted the guidance of a professional falconer  and started to feed up the fragile owl on food such as diced rabbit and rat five times per day, in between their work on the local grouse moors.

After gaining strength, Otto graduated onto whole mice, specially caught for him in a live trap by the gamekeepers and, when he had moulted his down feathers, he was ready to attempt flight.

Gamekeepers took Otto to the falconer and, by fitting observation cameras in his loft, were able to monitor how the owl was doing with flying and feeding.  When ready and strong, they released Otto back into an area where barn owls had been known to nest, praying he would be safe after all their efforts in rehabilitating him.  Thankfully, gamekeepers are now spotting Otto regularly, close to the area where he was released, and the little owl who looked doomed seems hellbent on survival.

“It’s good to see Otto doing well and returning to the place where he was released,” said Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of Angus Glens Moorland Group, whose members nursed the bird back to health. “There have been quite a number of sightings of him now.”  Gamekeeper Jason Clamp, who was involved in the rehabilitation said: “When Otto started taking whole prey, I thought things were looking good. We were giving him mice and small rats to mimic what he would have naturally in the wild. It was interesting watching his progress when it came to flying and feeding, on the cameras. He became more active and fed after 2am.  It is great to see him back in the wild where he belongs now because we didn’t know if he would make it. We’ll keep an eye on him over the coming months.”

Gamekeepers Say Grouse Moors are Nature Reserves

July 12, 2018

Gamekeepers and land managers throughout Scotland have launched a new moorland wildlife campaign today (Friday 13th July) on the eve of the UK’s first ever Bioblitz tour.

 

The #WeHaveWildlife campaign aims to raise awareness of the plethora of wildlife thriving on Scottish moorland and counter the misconceptions that nature reserves and wildlife centres are the only places to find wildlife.

Chris Packham’s ten-day Bioblitz tour (#WeWantWildlife) will kick off in the Scottish Highlands, visiting various sites throughout Scotland as part of the UK wide tour, recording every plant and wildlife species seen along the way to set a nature benchmark for future audits. All forms of wildlife will be investigated in this snapshot of the countryside from flies to fungi, mammals to moths and birds to butterflies.

Managed moorlands have wildlife in abundance, from craneflies to adders, lizards, mountain hares and red deer, to wild plants including orchids, juniper and heather, to ground-nesting birds, owls and raptors.

A wide range of rare bird species including curlew, lapwing, black grouse and merlin are thriving on managed moors as a result of predator control and habitat managememt - not least the red grouse, the only species unique to the UK, found only on moorland.

Lianne MacLennan, coordinator of the Grampian and Angus Glens Moorland Groups, who is spearheading the #WeHaveWildlife campaign, said: “There is an abundance of wildlife throughout the whole of our countryside, with moorland in particular offering a rich biodiversity in which a wide variety of wildlife and habitat can flourish, thanks to the efforts of our gamekeepers and land managers.

“Disappointingly none of the Bioblitz sites being visited are on moorland, with the tour focusing around nature reserves and wildlife centres. We support the Bioblitz exercise in establishing a benchmark for wildlife however, moorland sites should have been included as part of this audit to gain a true picture of the wildlife we actually have around us.” 

GWCT’s guide to Conserving the Curlew (June 2017) showed that in areas where predator control existed, the curlew population increased by 14% per year.

A biodiversity audit conducted by the Game Conservancy Deutschland found 103 different bird species thriving on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens this year – an increase of 51% since 2015. The study also recorded a higher number of breeding pairs of golden plover found on Glenogil Estate than in the whole of Germany.

Gamekeepers across Scotland are also making concerted efforts to ensure the survival of the black grouse. In Strathbraan, Perthshire a 20-year programme of woodland planting, grazing reduction, rotational heather burning, predator and bracken control has seen black grouse rise from very low numbers to around 50 male black grouse in 2018.

Wildlife Estates Scotland’s latest annual report also showed that eleven accredited estates reported the presence of golden eagles, with seven of these reporting 19 pairs. Eleven estates also recorded sightings of hen harriers with four reporting 18 breeding pairs. Buzzards were also reported on 20 estates, with a total estimated population of over 920 birds.

Gamekeeper, Garry MacLennan from the Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “Bioblitz audits have become valuable tools for ecologists to get an overview of a site’s living species and we have been working hard with accredited scientists and research institutes to chart the array of species found on estates within our moorland group. We are committed in our conservation efforts and given the recent studies, it is evident that keepered ground is notably more successful for bird conservation than other areas.

“Mr Packham believes that nature reserves throughout the country are the only places to see abundant wildlife however, this is simply not true. There are many conservation success stories across Scotland’s grouse moors, not least the breeding success of some moorland birds and waders, including species of conservation concern such as curlew and lapwing. We would be delighted to welcome Chris Packham and his Bioblitz team onto our moorland to gain an understanding of the vast array of wildlife flourishing on Scotland’s moors.”  

Estates and gamekeepers across the country have been stepping up efforts to educate the public on moorland biodiversity through their #WeHaveWildlife campaign and encouraging all to get outdoors, take a walk on the ‘wildlife’ side and document the array of wildlife species spotted en route.

Angus Drinks Company Partners with AGMG and Scottish Gamekeepers Association

June 25, 2018

An award-winning Angus drinks firm has brokered an agreement marking their appreciation of the role the ‘guardians of the land’ play in shaping Scotland’s iconic countryside.  Kirriemuir-based company, Gin Bothy, has entered into partnership with Scottish Gamekeepers Association Charitable Trust for education and Angus Glens Moorland Group.  The deal will see £1 from every bottle of its new Sloe Gin split between the groups to help highlight the benefits responsible gamekeeping bestows for conservation, cultural heritage and supporting rural communities.

Gin Bothy botanical gins, hand-crafted using seasonal Scottish ingredients, are already a staple on shoots with the firm’s signature gin, Gunshot, selling around 10 000 bottles a year.

The company also produces Speycast gin and Stirrup Cup as well as fruit gins and infusions.

Owner Kim Cameron grew up in a rural community herself and has fond memories of shoot-day beating in Glenisla as a child.  The company prides itself of producing ‘hip flask’ gins, perfect for the hill, river or the lunch bothy.

 

After freezing down over a tonne of elusive Scottish sloe, and mixing it with heather blaeberry, the company decided to hand-bottle its own Sloe Gin, following requests from local estates.  The new gin will be launched at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair on 29th June to 1st July, with fair-goers being able to taste the product at the SGA stand as well as buying it in the Food Hall.

Members of both beneficiary organisations, the SGA Charitable Trust and AGMG, will be on hand to celebrate the partnership, with the SGA Charitable Trust set to devote funds to highlighting the  role its members play in conservation of the globally threatened Curlew.  SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Our Charitable Trust, which promotes education on land management, is really pleased to be a part of this arrangement and would like to thank Kim and the team. Kim has grown up in a rural community and ‘gets’ the way of life and the important role good land stewardship plays.”

Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of Angus Glens Moorland Group, formed in 2015 to promote work and community life in the local glens, believes the arrangement will be a great success.  “As an Angus group, AGMG really appreciates what Gin Bothy has done. They make great products, using local ingredients and, giving something back like this is a testimony to how much the local area- and the way it is managed- means to Kim and the team.”

Kim Cameron, Gin Bothy owner, said: “Working with other rural organisations is important to us and we are excited to support the SGA Charitable Trust and Angus Glens Moorland group in our latest release of our Sloe gin.” 

Angus Glens Estate Praised for Biodiversity by Visiting German Conservationists

May 30, 2018

International conservationists have lauded a Scottish grouse moor for its land management which has led to 98 different bird species being found present on the estate.  Glenogil Estate, positioned between Glen Clova and Glen Lethnot in the famed Angus Glens, has been visited for the past three years by German scientists examining biodiversity in Scotland.

 

Led by Dr Daniel Hoffman of Game Conservancy Deutschland, the team found an increase of 35 bird species from their first visit in 2015 and are crediting heather burning and predator control as the main drivers in the abundance of wildlife found at Glenogil.  Among the birds found by Dr Hoffman and his team were red listed species including curlew, lapwing, black grouse and merlin. An abundance of non-bird species were also found, such as mountain hares and lizards. The findings of the scientists are discussed in a new film which can be viewed on the Angus Glens Moorland Group Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AGMGuk/  

Daniel Hoffman said: “This is the third year that we have worked here at Glenogil and so far we've found 98 different bird species in this whole area. We wanted to show other estates, other countries in Britain and in the whole of Europe, that you can have this biodiversity only when you have the ecologically correct form of management in an area.

 

“When I was here for the first time it was amazing to see the biodiversity. We read papers and articles saying that species such as the curlew, a flagship species in nature conservation, are endangered in Britain but you can't believe that when you are here.  We find golden plovers with a high population density, and even on these few hectares here on Glenogil, we find almost double the number of breeding pairs that you find in the whole of Germany. They breed here because the landscape is managed as it is.

 

“At Glenogil you have habitat management and predation control so the survival rate of our target species is so good. This creates a kind of donator population and other areas they will have benefitted from the work that is done here. If you have an area and say, "Oh, okay, we do nothing here," then you will lose biodiversity, and that's what we want to show. We want to show that you have to do habitat management and predation control to have a high level of biodiversity from different species, all different species.”

 

Danny Lawson, head gamekeeper at Glenogil Estate, and a member of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “We’ve been delighted to welcome Dr Hoffman and his team to demonstrate the management techniques which work so well at Glenogil and can hopefully be replicated to the benefit of wildlife across Scotland, the UK and Europe.

 

“Land management, especially for gamekeepers on moorland estates, has never been under closer scrutiny. Much has changed in the sector over the last 15 years including at Glenogil, and it is only fair that we recognise where our management is creating a rich tapestry of wildlife.”

 

Glenogil is one of a number of estates working to help halt the worrying decline in wading birds such as curlew, lapwing and oyster catcher through the collaborative Working for Waders project. The initiative is being delivered following the vitally important Understanding Predation report, published by Scotland’s Moorland Forum in February 2016.

 

Ross Macleod, Head of Policy, GWCT Scotland, said: “Glenogil is a living example of Working for Waders in action and delivering on the ground.   A combination of habitat, sound management and predator control are at the heart of why wader populations are successful here, and a great example for others to learn from and to follow.”

Gamekeepers’ Pink Mankini Walk Raises Cash - and Eyebrows!

May 10, 2018

A group of burly Angus gamekeepers stunned hillwalkers at the weekend by climbing a Munro then striping off into skin-tight pink Mankinis to raise £5000 for Cancer Research.  Twenty one gamekeepers from Angus Glens Moorland Group were happy to take part in this cheeky fundraising idea in memory of loved ones lost to the disease.

Wife of local gamekeeper Samantha Annand, and her sister Vicki Smart, lost both parents to cancer and the pair have been raising money since, with almost £20 000 handed over.  On Saturday, they had additional support in the shape of gamekeeping staff, family and shepherds in the Angus glens, who raised over £2000 with their ‘alternative’charity walk.

The rural ‘taskforce’ joined others in the community to undertake a four hour round trip to the 3081 ft summit of Mount Keen, which is a magnet for walkers, mountain bikersand sight-seers.  At the top, participants surprised more than a few hikers by removing their clothes and donning fluorescent Mankinis which left little to the imagination.

Samantha Annand said: “The idea initially came about mainly because we wanted to do something different. My husband Neal is a gamekeeper and so are a lot of his friends and he does this in order to support me and my sister Vicki. In the past we have done the Edinburgh Moonwalk and various Cancer Research races.  Loss from cancer doesn’t get any easier and, unfortunately, many of our friends have been affected too. Quite a few of the boys who took part in the walk have experienced the loss of loved ones but this was a great way to raise money for such an important cause. Hopefully we didn’t scare too many sheep and Munro bloggers!”

Samantha’s husband, gamekeeper Neal, who was amongst those who dispensed with their modesty for a group photo at the top said: “I think Amazon must be wondering what is going on in the glens of Angus because they have had lots of online orders for pink Mankinis in the last few weeks.  Gamekeepers might not be the kind of people traditionally associated with dressing up like this, stuck up in the hills all day, but it was a great way to get together, have a blether and a laugh and raise some cash at the same time.”

National Conservation Award for Angus Group

March 24, 2018

A hard-working collective set up three years ago to showcase work and community life in the remote glens of Angus has won a prestigious national Conservation award.  Angus Glens Moorland Group, comprising local estates and farms, was set up in 2015 to engage with people about the importance of land and wildlife management.   On Thursday in Edinburgh, the group was crowned winner in the Conservation and Environment category at the Scottish Rural Awards, partnered by Scottish Field magazine and Scottish Countryside Alliance, in association with Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

Gamekeeper members of AGMG were recognised for their skill and graft in protecting globally rare heather habitats and red-listed moorland birds whilst also providing quality grouse shooting, game, stalking and angling, which boosts the rural economy by millions each year.  By legally controlling abundant predators, group gamekeepers were acknowledged for giving species such as Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover and threatened black grouse a helping hand.  Shepherds in the group also help in the fight against tick, which can spread Lyme Disease, by deploying hill sheep treated with acaricide in combination with bracken control.

AGMG, described at the ceremony in Our Dynamic Earth as a ‘shining example of people power’, has also introduced family care and homeless charities to game tasting by delivering free oven-ready game to the vulnerable.  “It was a great achievement to be nominated in the category for conservation and the environment. We did not expect to win because there were so many fantastic finalists. We feel very passionate about the countryside and the need for better education on what land and wildlife management delivers for species, environments, communities and in keeping employment and families in our glens. It is a real honour,” said AGMG member, gamekeeper Alistair Brown. 

AGMG fought off stiff competition from runners-up The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company Ltd and highly commended organic beef farm, CH and AK Walker, from Berwickshire.  Amongst the judges were former Telegraph environmental journalist and award winning author, Louise Gray.

It is not the first time the Angus group has made waves at national level.  In conjunction with bird monitors, it was discovered that reintroduced red kites nesting on a group estate were stealing bathers’ underwear; a story which reached the New York Times as well as featuring on BBC’s The One Show.  Seven gamekeepers from the group also recently broke through rock to rescue a Patterdale Terrier named Charlie who had been stuck underground in a fox hole for 74 hours.

Angus Gamekeepers Hit Targets for Kids

November 30, 2017

Two vital services in Tayside and Perthshire have been boosted by Angus gamekeepers who have raised nearly £4000 to help provide support to children and families.  Staff from Glenogil Estate decided to host a charity clay shoot in aid of Tayside Children’s Hospital after Head Gamekeeper Danny Lawson’s son received unforgettable support from ward staff.  The estate, which is a member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, also donated proceeds from a second charity clay shoot and raffle to Aberuthven-based charity, The Sandpiper Trust.  The Trust, which helps save lives in rural areas, was founded by the family of Sandy Dickson (14) who died in 2000 following a drowning accident which emergency services could not reach in time.  Gamekeepers learned of the work of the charity, in providing lifeline medical equipment, through a House Manager on the estate.

Handing over cheques to both groups at Ninewells Hospital last week, Glenogil Estate Head Gamekeeper Danny Lawson said: “When my son, Rex, was born he had to be taken to the High Dependency Unit because he was starved of oxygen for a short time during labour. It was quite terrifying for my partner Clare and I as Rex was our firstborn, but the staff made us feel at ease. It was like a team effort and we wanted to put something back by supporting their work.  The Sandpiper Trust also do great work in remote areas and if this money helps to save a life, that is great. The staff really appreciate the role our estate owner has played by hosting these charity events.”

Receiving a cheque for £1626 on behalf of Tayside Children’s Ward, charge nurse Sam Russell said the proceeds would go into the patient comfort fund to buy new indoor and outdoor equipment as well as purchasing distraction tools to help children during therapy.

On collecting £2300 on behalf of The Sandpiper Trust, Manager Jayne Price, said: “This really kind and unexpected donation will go towards providing our Sandpiper medical bags for applicants that meet our support criteria in rural locations. The Trust really appreciates the support of Glenogil Estate and Angus Glens Moorland Group.”

Angus Event Cites Game as Next Success Story

November 24, 2017

Game meat has the potential to be the next Scottish Food and Drink success story.  That was the message from a ‘Game from the Glen’ celebration event held by Angus Glens Moorland Group on Rottal Estate in Glen Clova on Thursday evening, aimed at butchers, restaurateurs and hoteliers.

Over 80 guests from across Scotland enjoyed venison, grouse, rabbit and partridge fresh from the hills of Angus, with drinks provided by local artisan gin maker, The Gin Bothy.  Cookery demonstrations were conducted by Paul Fettes, former chef at The Three Chimneys in Skye, and Eden Sinclair of Sinclair’s Larder and Sinclair’s Kitchen in Edzell and Forfar.

Local gamekeeper Bruce Cooper described the journey of wild Angus game from ‘hill to plate’, explaining how local shoots also contribute millions to the rural economy and attract visitors.  He believes game should be on more Scottish dinner tables and believes, with support and a clear supply strategy, greater use can be made of a premium food product.  In 2015 Mintel earmarked game as one of the top markets to watch after sales rose 9 percent between 2013 and 2014.  “We have lots of quality game growing wild in our glens of Angus but, at the moment, game is under-utilised,” said the Head Gamekeeper at the event, staged to coincide with Great British Game Week.  “It is great to see chefs using it and restaurants being ‘game champions’ but we also need to get it into more Scottish houses.  People eat beef, fish and lamb but not enough people know about game. It has great flavour, it is wild and is healthier in comparison to many meats and poultry.  We need to make it affordable and more restaurants and butchers can be working directly with estates to get it processed and out there for folk to try. It could be a real Scottish success if we manage to get it into shoppers’ baskets.”

Angus Glens Moorland Group members handed out oven-ready game with recipe cards, to encourage attendees to go home and cook with the products.  Local food action charities were also in attendance, with estates preparing to provide oven-ready meals to those shouldering the affects of poverty or illness, over the festive period.  Chef Paul Fettes, who has worked in Scotland, England and Japan, says game will be ripe for growth- as soon as more people switch on to its many qualities.

“Scottish game is a prime example of the wonderful ingredients we have to work with as chefs. It is versatile, healthier and more exciting than the more mainstream options and an important part of Scottish cuisine’s identity. It should be a fundamental part of any menu at home or dining out.”

Chef Eden Sinclair agreed: “I think part of developing game is about education and that means getting game on the butcher’s front shelf. As soon as I put grouse on the menu, the demand is there. There are people who don’t know where to go to buy it, though, and that needs to change.”

Economic Boom of Grouse Shooting Laid Bare Before Edzell March

August 06, 2017

A study has revealed the multi-million pound impact of grouse shooting on rural communities in Tayside.  It came as more than 350 gamekeepers, their families and traders took part in a march in Edzell on Sunday to mark the upcoming grouse season.  Of estates in Perthshire canvassed by Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group, three respondent holdings generated local contracts totalling almost £2 million during 2015/16.

Businesses in Angus benefited to the tune of more than £4.2 million from seven respondent estates while the Grampian region saw £3.1 million invested locally across 10 estates.  Trades and services around Loch Ness and Inverness-shire secured trade worth £6.2 million from 11 estates providing accounts.  Speyside saw local income of nearly £4 million from six polled estates and the towns and villages around the Lammermuir Hills in the Scottish Borders enjoyed over £2.7 million of business from six estates, with grouse shooting as their principal income.  The final total across all the estates who participated was £23,169 891.20, with two estates in the Tomatin area creating over £880,000 of downstream economic benefit.

That sum, which does not take into account wages paid to gamekeepers or other staff, means downstream businesses, from local garages to building firms, benefit from business worth, on average, £514,886 from each estate.  “Grouse shooting attracts criticism in some quarters but the survey tells the story of the value of country sports to smaller rural communities,” said Lianne MacLennan of Scotland’s regional moorland groups.  “The results do not show the wages that keep the gamekeepers and their families in the glen villages.  What we wanted to understand better is how the impacts trickle down. There is not a rural community in these seven areas that could afford to lose either the number of jobs created by the grouse estates or the business people are deriving from all the work that goes on in these places.  It is not just shooting-related businesses, either, it is everything from wine sellers to clothing companies, fencers, architects and garages.  Those businesses are out in force today, standing shoulder to shoulder with the gamekeepers ahead of another busy season.”

Perthshire-based building company Frankerton work on moors from Morayshire to the Borders, with 75% of their businesses coming directly from grouse estates which enabled the firm to expand from two employees only 10 years ago.  We employ nine people now and six of those are working full-time for estates, with the others working on other construction contracts such as wind farms,” said Frankerton’s Bryan Paterson.  “We, too, use local hotels and businesses when we are working. That is when you see how far into communities the work generated, goes.”

Over the studied period, there was significant investment made in buildings, public path repairs and renewable energy projects as well as core grouse moor management.  The 18-week season is due to start on Saturday.

Lost Angus School Kit Replaced Through Kindness

January 24, 2017

Pupils at a remote village primary school in Angus are enjoying a new-found team spirit after a generous donation helped them replace their long-lost sports kit.  For years, parents of kids at Cortachy Primary School have watched the youngsters give their all for the school team in a mix of shorts and t-shirts cobbled from their own wardrobes and drawers at home.  With the opposing schools resplendent in unified kits, parents began to wonder what had happened to the school’s own sports tops which had gone missing some time before.  Despite inquiries, no one knew where the sports kits were and parents decided to initiate a fund raising campaign so ‘Cortachy’s finest’ could once again don the colours with pride.


Thanks to connections with local gamekeepers and estates, their wishes were granted when Angus Glens Moorland Group decided to forward them a cheque for the new gear.  The group was established in 2015 to showcase working life in the glen community.  With a large part of the school roll made up of kids of estate residents, tenant farmers and gamekeepers, the group was delighted to help the Cortachy cause.


Lianne MacLennan, co-ordinator of Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “When the group members heard that the kids were going to sports events without the same kit, they wanted to help. There are a lot of kids at the school that are from estate workers’ families. Hopefully it will give them an extra edge and a bit of pride when competing this year.”


Parent Ruth White, who has three kids at Cortachy Primary, says the gesture has been hugely appreciated by the children, the parents and the school.  “No one knew what had become of the old kits. Therefore, time after time the school pupils would present themselves to local fixtures in whatever kit they owned, surrounded by kitted up teams from other schools. This didn’t seem right so the parent council decided to fundraise.  Thankfully Angus Glens Moorland Group offered their generous donation and there is now 5 kits for each age group, from age 5 to 12. It gives the school a sense of belonging and, as as rural school, it is an apt connection. The kids can’t wait to walk out on court at the upcoming fixtures wearing it.”

Angus Gamekeeper Repays Charity After Cancer Scare

December 06, 2016

An Angus gamekeeper has had his moustache waxed off for men’s cancer charities in recognition of the help he received last year during his own scare.  Dad of four Scott Dickson and fellow gamekeeper Sean Reddington from Angus Glens Moorland Group both grew substantial bristles in aid of the Movember Foundation, which aims to prevent men dying young.  At the weekend, their whiskers were whisked off at the Old Bolag Bar in Brechin by staff from the local La Sia Hair and Beauty, raising nearly £1000 and a few laughs in the process.


After his own personal experience, it was something Scott (36) was happy to do, even if it was a little more painful than he expected!  During a gall bladder operation last year, medics found a large tumour in his neck which had to be removed to prevent the spread of cancer.  It was a major shock and he had no hesitation in volunteering to raise money for Movember and the health charities they champion.


“To be honest, I wasn’t really aware of the lump in my neck until the doctors picked it up,” said the gamekeeper from Millden.  “Fortunately, they got it quite early. Experiences like that really open your eyes up and I also have a friend going through this just now. You realise how important these charities are when you are in that situation yourself. You always think it is something that will not happen to you.”


Scott’s health has improved and he is due to be a dad again for the fifth time.   Both he and fellow moustache wearing gamekeeper, Sean, raised a few glances as their whiskers- and some leg hair- were removed.  Angus Glens Moorland Group Co-Ordinator Lianne MacLennan, who was in attendance, praised the pair for their willingness.  “Scott and Sean were excellent sports and took it all in their stride. A group of gamekeepers in Grampian also raised cash for Movember as they all feel it is a really good cause.  Between them all they must have raised £3000 which is definitely worthwhile.”

Gamekeepers Go To Ground To Save Angus Spaniel

September 14, 2016

A grateful dog owner has thanked gamekeepers who literally took to ground to find her lost Cocker Spaniel after it went missing on an Angus moor.  Karen da Rosa, from Huntly, was working her beloved little Cocker Spaniel, Jazz, picking up game at a grouse shoot on Invermark Estate when Jazz disappeared without trace.  Naturally, Karen was in panic mode, fearing she would never find her on such a vast area of open hill.  It was only after a second thorough search of the area did estate gamekeepers manage to locate the curious dog.  By returning to the area where Jazz was last seen, Head Gamekeeper and member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, Garry MacLennan, heard breathing at an opening and discovered Jazz had entered a pipe hole on the moor.  At that stage, one of the young (and thin) gamekeepers, Johnny Stevenson physically pushed himself into the hole head first to confirm the find and reassure Jazz before she could be dug out and returned to her relieved owner.
Thankfully Jazz was unfazed by her ordeal and was delighted to be reunited with Karen after the search.


Karen da Rosa said: “I couldn’t thank the Invermark heroes enough for saving Jazz and everyone on the shoot took the time to search. What an awesome team. She actually came out toastie warm and happy as punch. Surprisingly. I thought she'd be freezing and in shock. Think the mud pack kept her warm. One lucky little dog and owner!”


Johnny Stevenson described the moment Jazz was found and admitted the rescue was one of the messier jobs he has undertaken in his duties on a shoot day. "It's never a nice feeling when a dog goes missing. Karen had resigned herself to her dog being lost due to the length of time she was missing, so once she was located it was a massive relief to everyone. Our head keeper stopped the shoot to look for her and managed to located her down a pipe hole, which is an under ground peat chamber that lets the water run, by listening for her breathing. After digging about 6 feet of wet peat we broke through and pulled the dog out. It was very happy to see us."

Starving Angus Baby Barn Owl Nursed to Health

September 24, 2016

A young female barn owl which was found starving to death has been
released back into the wild on an Angus moor.  Just over two months ago, gamekeepers at Millden were delighted to discover four rare barn owl chicks had nested on the floor of a steading on the estate. The owls, on the conservation amber list due to their fragile population, were
ringed by Tay Ringing Group and their wing lengths and weights suggested
decent survival chances.  However, the gamekeeping staff recently located one of the owlets sitting on a gate at night and, after checking the bird’s condition, knew it was suffering in
the wet weather.

 

Seventy per cent of all barn owls that fledge in the UK die in the first year, with
starvation being the main cause.  Their feathers, although helping them to fly silently in pursuit of prey such as voles and mice, lack water resistance, leaving them susceptible to rain.

The gamekeepers took the failing youngster to Angus Falconry Services
where it was identified as having minimal chance of clinging on due to dehydration and lack of food.
The owl was placed in the warmth and darkness to keep it calm and was fed fluids throughout the night using a special tube into the stomach.  It was then moved onto more solid food before falconers were pleased to see it had taken a mouse which had been left in its enclosure.  The owl has now been re-released by gamekeepers back onto the estate, where it hunts the grasslands at the edge of the grouse moor.

 

Gamekeeper Jason Clamp (pictured) a member of Angus Glens Moorland
Group said: “When we saw the young owl on the gate, its wings were down
and we knew immediately something wasn’t right.  We had had a few nights of really heavy rain. Its downy feathers were all wetand the falconry experts said it looked as if we had caught it just in time.
It felt really skinny and it didn’t look well at all. We knew it needed help quickly or it would die.”

 

Steve Towell at Angus Falconry Services tended to the juvenile female round
the clock over serval days.  He admits he didn’t hold out much hope, initially.
“It is great to see the owl back out there again. It was touch and go. These
things don’t always work. It had basically gone into shutdown. We managed to
get some fluids in it quickly, using a substance which is like a bird form of
glucose then, after a while, got it onto a food that is like a pate with all the
vitamins it needs. It had a few days on that and, when it took the mouse, we
knew we had to get it back out into the wild fairly soon after.  The longer they are housed, they lose hunting fitness, which can be just as dangerous.”


Upon release, and after several days of TLC, the owl flew straight back to the
steading where it had hatched and fledged.  It is now hoped it will survive the
critical early phase and make a home on the estate.

Angus Kids Re-connect with Nature and Wild Food

September 29, 2016

A group of Angus school children turned grouse beaters for a day yesterday (Tues) as they followed the fascinating journey of local game from the hilltop to the dinner plate.  Health experts have identified a worrying disconnection in Britain between food consumed and where it comes from- not something that can be levelled at Cortachy Primary School pupils.  The visit was the culmination of three trips to Glen Prosen estate for the kids, who have been discovering how foods such as grouse, rabbit, lamb and venison are produced.  Thanks to the gamekeeping staff, the youngsters have observed the life cycle of iconic moorland species such as red grouse and Curlew, at different stages of the year over the heather moor.  Yesterday’s visit was the finale, with the children participating in a mock grouse drive before visiting the game larder and finally tasting the delicious produce for themselves.

Chefs from local firm Sinclair’s Catering Ltd were on hand to cook grouse, venison and rabbit for the children, using a harvestable surplus straight from the hills they had walked over earlier.  Glen Prosen Estate Head Gamekeeper Bruce Cooper, a member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “It has been great having the children here, watching them connect with nature and letting them see, first hand, the management that produces the food on the table. In May, they saw the variety of wildlife on the moor, the wading birds were displaying and flying around. Then in the early summer, they saw some of the chicks and learned why the chicks need protection from the things that eat them, in order to survive.  Yesterday they learned about how the game is harvested, which is really important. It its very easy to lose the connection between food and how it gets to the plate. Even for adults, it is so much easier now to grab something quickly from a supermarket.”

A survey in Britain in 2013 highlighted the need for greater education about the origins of food, with almost a third of kids questioned believing cheese came from plants. Yesterday’s visit saw the local children take to the moors to simulate driving the grouse and met the working dogs who recover the game on shoot days. Pre-shot grouse were laid around the butts to be discovered by the mock mini ‘shoot party’. And, after a visit to the state-of-the-art larder facility, where local venison and rabbit were being stored, the kids had the opportunity to taste some of the lean, organic produce.

Lucy Sinclair from Sinclair’s Catering said: “It was a delight to cook for the children. Hopefully they will ask for game at home now and encourage more families to add it to their shopping basket.

“Eating local game is a great way to eat seasonally. There is no additives. Game is low in fat and high in iron as well as tasting delicious.”

Lynn Shellard, Head Teacher at Cortachy Primary School believes the experience has been enriching for the kids.  “Glen Prosen Estate has provided excellent opportunities for our pupils to develop their skills for learning, life and work in motivating contexts for learning. The superb Estate staff have provided well-planned and engaging opportunities for our learners to develop their knowledge and understanding of the local environment and an awareness of the world of work.”

Grouse Workers Celebrate Millions in Household Wages

August 11, 2016

Rural families are set to receive millions in household wages from the 2016 grouse season, according to new salary figures highlighting major financial impact.  A poll of 32 surveyed grouse shoots nationwide revealed that almost £7 million will flow directly into remote households in wages, covering the polled estates alone.

Nick Nairn to Showcase Angus Game at Major Food Festival

August 03, 2016

Celebrity chef and food campaigner Nick Nairn will join Masterchef champions and Great British Menu finalists at the biggest Taste Angus Food and Drink Festival yet, in August.  The food pioneer will delight visitors to the Food Demonstration Theatre at Glamis Castle by cooking with local grouse and game sourced from the heathered glens of Angus.

Inaugural Young Innovator of the Year Awarded to Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups

July 31, 2016

For the first time in its history, the GWCT Scottish Game Fair has offered a free trade stand at this years’ fair to support and promote an innovative business that benefits or supports game conservation or management. Against stiff competition, the judging Committee  is delighted to announce that The Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups is the winner of the inaugural Young Innovator Competition. 

Callum’s Delight at Becoming Young Gamekeeper of the Year

July 01, 2016

Callum Low from Arbroath saw off significant competition from both ends of the country to land the prestigious honour from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

Birds of Prey Stealing Angus Glens Underwear - Again!

June 29, 2016

The red kites at Gannochy made off with pants and socks from a nearby wild swimming spot.

A Sick Swan Has Made An Amazing Recovery After Being Nursed Back to Health in a Horse Stable in Angus.

June 13, 2016

The adult bird was in such a poor condition that putting it to sleep was an option discussed by the SSPCA.

Eggcellent Work by Angus Keepers

March 28, 2016

Kind hearted Angus gamekeepers donated eggs to 20 kids at the Tayside Children’s Hospital in Dundee after hosting their first Easter Community Fun Day on Sunday.  Angus Glens Moorland Group, which showcases working life on the region’s scenic grouse moors, opened the doors at Invermark Estate to local families at the weekend.  As well as a woodland egg hunt, kids were able to learn about traditional deerstalking ‘garron’ ponies as well as meeting some of the estate farm’s newborn lambs and their busy mum.  Whilst local children each received a chocolate egg on the day, members of the group, which comprises gamekeepers, estate staff and their families, visited kids at Ninewells Hospital the day later to hand over seasonal treats on the wards.

Despite being scattered throughout the remote glens of Angus, group members’ young ones visit the Tayside Children’s Hospital, too, if they need any medical attention.  The group wanted to show their appreciation to the staff and put a smile on the face of the patients by sending around their very own moorland bunny with gifts from the glens.  “Our first Easter Community event was really successful and we have had lots of comments from people who brought their kids along after seeing it on Facebook,” said group Co-Ordinator, Lianne MacLennan. “The Estate bothy was turned into the ‘bunny bothy’, with face painting and the kids met the animals as well as glimpsing our very own costumed Easter rabbit (2015 Lantra Scotland Modern Apprentice of the Year, gamekeeper Callum Low) dashing through the woods.  It was also good to see the smiling faces of the kids- and the staff- at the hospital.

“The gamekeepers in our group who have kids attend the hospital if there is anything up with their wee ones so they know the hard work the staff put in.”

Sandy Spalding, Play Assistant at Ninewells Hospital thanked Angus Glens Moorland Group for their kindness on the day.  “We’d like to thank the group for the kind donation. The children and the staff appreciated it very much indeed.”

Angus Estates Ensure Dogs Have Had Their Chips

February 23, 2016

An Angus sporting estate was over-run by four-legged friends at the weekend as over 200 dogs of all varieties were micro-chipped ahead of the Scottish Government deadline.  By April 6th, all dog owners in Scotland will have to have their pooches chipped and details entered into an approved database, or risk a fine of £500.  The legislation has been brought in to cut down on lost or stray dogs and to make owners responsible for their dog’s welfare and behaviour.  Thanks to work by local estates and gamekeepers plus the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, animals from all over Angus and the Grampian region were chipped at the weekend.

The event, which saw breeds from working Spaniels to pugs and Lhasa Apsos mingling together, was jointly hosted by the Angus Glens Moorland Group and Grampian Moorland Group.  As well as making dogs compliant with the legislation, a raffle containing doggy treats, hosted by the two groups, raised £1221.93 for Dogs Trust.  With only around 100 dogs being the norm at Dogs Trust free microchipping events, veterinary nurses from the charity had their work cut out to chip all 217 dogs presented by local owners.  Despite the inevitable playfulness from the canine kind, the glen event was a major success and presented the local communities with a chance to move in step with the change.

Debbie Farquharson from Edzell, who runs Country Canines Dog Grooming in Brechin, said: “Even with the high volumes, there appeared to be no misbehaved dogs. There was plenty of facilities for people attending like tables, benches and poo bags, and lots of information.”

Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of the Grampian and Angus Glens Moorland groups said: “We contacted Dogs Trust because we felt it was good for communities, across Angus and the Grampian region, to be able to come to one place and for a large number of dogs to be chipped at the same time. We know ourselves, from local gamekeepers helping to get lost dogs back to their owners, that micro-chipping will be very useful, if something untoward happens.”

Lisa Scott, Veterinary Nurse from Dogs Trust added: "Microchipping is the most effective permanent way to assist in a lost dog being returned to their owner which in turn reduces the number of healthy dogs unnecessarily put to sleep.”  The charity have been holding free chipping drop-in events across the country and at their rehoming centres, ahead of the new law coming into force. 

 

Owners in outlying parts of Perthshire will be able to have their pooches chipped, withTayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group hosting a similar event with Dogs Trust on 1st March.  Doors are open between 1pm and 5pm at Amulree Village Hall, with tombola, tea and coffee and home baking all day.  Caitlin Reddington, Co-Ordinator of Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group said: “We know how important working dogs are to our members and it’s the same for much-loved pets. This is a nice way for local people to get together and meet the requirements of the new law at the same time.”

Possible Rare Wildcat Sighted on Angus Grouse Estate

February 05, 2016

Hopes are rising after the sighting of a possible Scottish wildcat was spotted on camera by a gamekeeper on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens.  Wildcats are Scotland’s most endangered mammal and there may only be a few left in this country.  However, a local gamekeeper spotted a possible wildcat enjoying a meal of rabbit when he checked footage from the camera he is operating as part of Scottish Wildcat Action’s drive to conserve the species.  Head Gamekeeper Bruce Cooper, a member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, was checking film on Wednesday evening when he saw the cat with highly distinctive markings.

The glens of Angus were identified last year as being one of the six priority areas for wildcat conservation and the grouse estate[VM1] where the sighting was recorded lies within the Cairngorms National Park.  Images of the cat have now been sent by Mr Cooper to the project team for identification before it is decided what the next steps should be. “I have lived in the area for a long time and, when I heard the Angus Glens had been marked out as a priority area or wildcats, I spoke to the local officers and decided to help by operating cameras. Another of the local estate gamekeepers in Angus is also getting involved.  The trail cameras were installed in the New Year and I was checking the film for the second time when I saw the cat. It came to a bait of rabbit and it looks like the real deal, although that will have to be established now.”

Pure wildcats have a thick, ringed blunt tail with no stripe and tabby markings.  Scottish Wildcat Action project officers will now carefully examine the images.  Hebe Carus, Scottish Wildcat Action Officer who is leading activity in the Angus Glens and Northern Strathspey areas, said: “Reliable identification requires having a variety of different views of the cat and having the time to look for the 7 main defining features. Only after analysing the pictures Bruce has sent can I confirm whether the cat displays all the defining features of a genuine Scottish wildcat.  At the cameras there is also a scented post with Velcro on to try to capture hairs so we can analyse DNA. So far, we have no hairs to analyse, but we hope the cat returns so we get more photos and possibly a hair sample.”

Around 300 motion-sensitive cameras are being operated by volunteers in priority areas across Scotland just now as part of the multi-partner project, assisted by funding from the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The hope is to identify wildcats but also feral cats and hybrids so that project officers can target conservation work to protect the endangered native cat in the wild.  The main threat to the wildcat is interbreeding with domestic cats, which also spreads disease.  In order to protect the remaining wildcats in their native habitat, the project team aims to trap, neuter and vaccinate unowned domestic cats and obvious hybrids before re-releasing them into the wild under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “Those who work and live in the glens are aware of the high numbers of different species, here. There was talk of wildcats before so it will be interesting to see what the project discovers.”

 

More information about the project can be found at www.scottishwildcataction.org

Estates Help Keep Community Hub Open

December 21, 2015

What's this item about? What makes it interesting? Write a catchy description to grab your audience's attention...The Glenesk Retreat and Folk Museum at Tarfside was purchased by the local community in 2005 through a mix of fundraising and private and public sources. Originally the brainchild of a local Head Teacher, Miss Greta Michie MBE, back in the fifties, the Retreat has been a major part of life in the Glen for decades.

The Untold - Story Moorland Biodiversity

November 24, 2015

Studies find 81 species on three Scottish grouse moors, including eagles and hen harriers.

 

Scotland’s shooting estates are supporting a “vast range” of bird species, according to a study of three prominent grouse moors.  A total of 81 species have been found breeding or feeding on land managed by gamekeepers, with some birds that are in decline elsewhere apparently making a comeback on heather moorland.  The birds identified include golden plover, black grouse, ring ouzel, golden and white-tailed eagles, peregrine falcons and hen harriers. One estate also recorded a significant rise in cuckoo numbers.

Shooting and Fishing Nets £5 Million for Angus Firms.

November 02, 2015

A new survey has shown that local firms received almost £5 million of spin-off business last year from sporting estates in the Angus Glens.The results of the poll, which gathered information from six respondent estates offering grouse shooting, stalking and fishing to visitors, were announced on Sunday.In total £4.7 million worth of trade was generated in 2014, with a total of 941 businesses enjoying relationships with the moorland estates in the glens.The receipts dwarf the sum Perth and Kinross receives annually from the T in the Park Festival (£2.7m).But the final sum will underestimate the total contribution of country sports in the area, with the number of estates amounting to over 20.The survey was conducted by the Angus Glens Moorland Group which hosted its first ever Community Open Day on Sunday at The Glenesk Retreat in Tarfside, attended by councillors, businesses, teachers and local families.  Angus Glens Moorland Group was established earlier in 2015 to showcase the links between estates and the community.The survey follows an announcement in August by the group that £989 972 in employee wages enter glen households from grouse shooting and country sports. 

 

Lianne MacLennan, Co Ordinator of the Angus Glens Moorland Group said: “After pulling together our earlier poll on employment and wages of the gamekeepers and estate staff, we wanted to learn more about how much of the money that estates spend, stays in the area.“We were given access to confidential supplier records from last year from six estates that responded to the request and the figures show how many firms benefit through trade.“The vast majority of these, by far, are in Angus and, given there are few major industries scattered about the glens, this is important when it comes to keeping traders going and helping people stay here to work. To put it in context, it is more than Perth and Kinross businesses benefit from the T in the Park music event.”Unsurprisingly, the highest spend across all of the surveyed estates was in the form of vehicles, motor repairs and fuel, with vets and kenneling, tackle and game supplies featuring strongly.Building companies, plant hire, joiners, plumbers and decorators were consistently used, reflecting recent investment in staff and visitor housing.However, local booksellers, florists, grocery shops, printers, cleaners and electrical goods companies all benefitted from estate work.One supplier to the estates, Colin Young of family firm, Rosehill Timber, said: “The estates have a lot of buying power and I think it would impact on employment in the area if they were not here. It would certainly have an impact on our business. They bring a lot of money into the community. The shops are well used and it keeps them going.”

 

Independent Angus Councillor for Brechin and Edzell, Bob Myles, who spoke at Sunday’s Open Day, welcomed the news: “The shooting interests in the Angus Glens bring a huge amount of money into the area that would not be generated in any other way, shape or form and to turn your back on that sort of income, coming from a rural area like the glen, would be very foolhardy.”

Angus Estates Open Door to Community

November 01, 2015

Estates in the Angus Glens are to open their doors to the community to cement the ties between grouse and deer stalking and the glen people who benefit from it. In August, the Angus Glens Moorland Group unveiled a survey which showed that £1 million of wages went directly into glen household budgets from the grouse shooting season. That economic and jobs benefit, plus the knock-on tourism affects for nearby businesses, will be the subject of a family Open Day in Glen Esk on November 1st, which will also raise funds for local primary schools. Representatives from glen community organisations, education, business and the region’s political scene will all be in attendance at ‘The Retreat’ venue near Edzell. As well as a range of interesting talks and demonstrations, the group will also screen a feature film which has helped turn some of the local gamekeepers into social media ‘stars’. ‘Driven Grouse Shooting- the Untold Story’ has been viewed over 50 000 times, from Newtyle to New York and was recently shown to Holyrood  MSPs, to critical acclaim. Attendees will also get the opportunity to taste some freshly cooked game from the nearby high tops and meet some of the wildlife characters including birds of prey and working ponies. 

 

“The idea of the Open Day was to get all of the local community groups together, have some fun and good food and to give people, whose knowledge of the life and work of the estates may be limited, a bit of an insight into what goes on every day. “As well as getting an idea of the wildlife and the management of the land through the video, people will be able to mingle informally and meet the estates’ staff and their families, most of whom attend the community schools and help keep the glens alive,” said Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, which has raised thousands for care and frontline charities this year. The group has been undertaking a further survey on benefits to local business from the estates’ year-round operations and many of the commercial beneficiaries are expected to be there on the day, as well as economic development officials. “There is a wider community of trades and suppliers that service the estates all year round and it will be great to get them, and their little ones, all together on the day. “There may even be some further opportunities that might spring from it.”

20 Member of Team AGMG Give Blood

October 19, 2015

Images of ‪Team AGMG‬ giving blood at our local NHS Blood Donation clinic in Brechin, Angus over the last two nights. 20 members of our team made it down to the session! Well done to all of you..... See you again in March 2016!

AGMG Heads to Parliament

September 29, 2015

Fantastic images of one of our ‪HeadKeepers‬ Bruce Cooper with Graeme Dey | SNP - A Strong Voice For Angus South at the Scottish parliament today.  AGMG would like to thank Greame for this opportunity to have their voices heard. The group will continue informing MSPs on the topics that affect their complex and fragile community's

Rural Communities Back Grouse Shooting as Key to Their Future

September 21, 2015

Communities in key rural areas of Scotland have voiced strong support for grouse shooting which they believe makes a major social and economic contribution to the lives of local people.  The importance of grouse shooting and moorland management in supporting fragile rural communities is highlighted in a new report  published today by Scotland’s Rural College and the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Mountain Studies at Perth College.

 

 

Angus Gamekeepers in Hospice Help

September 13, 2015

Gamekeepers, staff and guests from an Angus estate have raised £700 for Lippen Care charity and Strathmore Hospice in Forfar, helping to redecorate the hospice lounge.  Every year a clay pigeon shoot is held at Glenogil Estate clay ground as a thank you to team members for their hard work.

This year, after hearing one of the shoot-day staff praising the vital support Lippen Care and the hospice gives ill patients and families, staff decided to raise money from the day’s sport and raffle.

Lippen Care helps sponsor training in palliative care and provides care and comfort for patients with cancer and other progressive conditions, as well as supporting their families at a difficult time.  After handing over the donation on Friday (Sept 12th), the estate gamekeepers were shown round the facility.

Glenogil Estate Head Gamekeeper Danny Lawson, part of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “We heard about the charity from one of the people that comes to the estate to work on shoot days. They had a friend that had been at the hospice and we decided to put the money towards helping Lippen Care as we felt it would make a little bit of a difference, as opposed to donating to a larger charity. One in three people contract cancer so the work the hospice does is really important.  We wanted to donate towards a local charity in the community and we were really pleased with the enthusiasm everyone showed in donating.”

All money received by Lippen Care is used for the benefit of patients, with redecoration of the lounge on the agenda at present.  Moira Nicol of Lippen Care said: “Without the continued generosity of our community, we could not provide the additional comfort to those who need care at their most vulnerable, and to this end we greatly appreciate the donation received from Glenogil.”