Something's stirring down in the Woodland Walk!

Once flying demonstrations have finished at the end of September each year, we at S.O.S. have the opportunity to address the “wear and tear” that the site has suffered over the hectic summer season and attention can be turned to the many essential maintenance tasks and new building projects necessary for the improvement of the site.

Over the first few weeks of the new year, the Woodland Walk has been the focus of much attention. Always a “heavy traffic” area of the sanctuary, due to it’s accommodation of the red squirrel colony, wildlife ponds, bug hotel and ladybird houses this pretty woodland area needs woodchip paths replenished, path borders reinstated, weed growth cleared and trees pruned back every winter. In addition the area has been seeded with a plethora of wild flower species which we hope will enhance the area.

WILDLIFE PONDS

Pond---nit-a-pretty-sight

Before and after: a year is a long time in nature, which means that the annual refurbishment of the frog pond illustrates the benefit of a good 'Spring Clean'! New barriers have been erected for visitor safety.

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The wildlife ponds have also seen some renovation, with clearance of weed, thinning of aquatic plant growth and new wooden safety barriers. Such measures not only improve the appearance of the ponds and the health of the plants, they also encourage frogs, toads and newts and consequently their counterparts in the food chain. We are also making plans to set up our "Bees, Bugs & Butterflies" focal point in the Woodland Walk in an endeavour to illustrate what can be done to encourage these threatened insect species so much in the news these days.

BEES, BUGS & BUTTERFLIES

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The S.O.S. Woodland Walk has been re-seeded with wild flowers to refresh the area with some all-year-round colour

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SCOTTISH WILDCATS

Further sensitive clearance will take place around the secluded breeding aviaries at the back of the Woodland Walk in order to prepare a space for what we plan to become an enclosure for 2017’s anticipated newcomers - Scottish Wildcats! We see the Woodland Walk as being the ideal place to set up a small colony of these rare animals. Like our Red Squirrel initiative, as a result we hope to contribute pure bloodlines to a project which is sublimating stocks for which the primary threat has been cross-mating with feral domestic cats.

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There are thought to be only 100 of these incredibly tough super-predators, capable of surviving Scotland's harshest winters, now at large in the wild. The spacious, naturalistic habitat that we plan to create for these fascinating creatures will allow wheelchair-friendly visibility for visitors, whilst retaining essential cover for the animals. For more information about Scottish Wildcats, their plight and the conservation scheme set up to protect their future, please visit http://www.scottishwildcats.co.uk/

MEERKAT CASTLE

Additionally, our team have worked hard to improve access to the popular Meerkat Kastle visitors in buggies and wheelchairs. This development will be the building of a raised viewing area along one side of the animals’ enclosure to improve visibility of the meerkat feeding sessions.

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Meekat Kastle is benefitting from some attention
as we improve access and sight lines for those
in wheelchairs and buggies

Over the past month the team have removed a number of rotten trees and cleared undergrowth in order to create a new, wide, level path giving direct access to the meerkats from the entrance of the Woodland Walk. The gradient and surface of this area will be carefully calculated in order to also minimise any difficulties with turning and balance for all visitors. A new picket fence has replaced the old solid shiplap boundary of the enclosure, also aiding overall ease of movement.

We trust that visitors will enjoy many memorable hours in this newly renovated conservation area.