WILDLIFE watching in Peeblesshire received a boost following a £155,000 grant, writes Sally Gillespie.
As a result, the Friends of Kailzie Wildlife launched a three-year project, KLAWED (Kailzie Local Area Wildlife Education and Discovery) at the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles last Thursday with a talk by renowned wildlife artist Chris Rose.
Osprey information officer and secretary of the osprey watch volunteers group, Diane Bennett, said: “I’m delighted we’ve secured £155,000 from Scottish Natural Heritage and EU Leader funding. This will help the Friends of Kailzie Wildife to take the wildlife watching experience in the Peeblesshire area to new dimensions. As a committee, we have lots of ideas and we are to striving towards creating a wildlife viewing centre of excellence.” Friends of Kailzie Wildlife, which supports the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, a partnership of Kaizie Gardens, Forestry Commission Scotland and RSPB, is using the cash to buy and install new hi-tech camera equipment to view wildlife in high definition, employ a project officer and set up wildlife interpretive facilities around the Kailzie area.
Ms Bennett said: “The Borders has many iconic species, with osprey topping the list, but many species of global conservation concern such as lapwings, curlew, snipe and redshank nest here.
“We also have a good population of black grouse on the moors, breeding spotted flycatchers and cuckoos in the mature woodlands, and many more species.
“The landscape is rich and diverse in its wildlife and the Friends of Kailzie Widllife want to help to conserve and protect it, and to help visitors to engage with wildlife watching in a responsible way and to raise awareness to the species of conservation concern that breed in the area.
“Many wildlife themes will be showcased during the project, with chances to see bats, moths, mammals, butterflies and aquatic life as well as the myriad birdlife.”
The new KLAWED project officer, Eddie Sharp, takes up his post later this month and a key role will be to promote the region as a destination for wildlife watching, said Ms Bennett.
Meanwhile, Tweed Valley osprey volunteers report there are now three chicks hatched, taking the total raised by the adult osprey pair to 20 since 2004.
And ospreys in a Kielder Water and Forest Park nest have laid three eggs. The female, who returned late after meeting stormy weather on her migration route from Africa, has been seen turning the eggs over to keep them warm on live video footage beamed to Kielder Castle from a Forestry Commission nest camera.
Forestry Commission ornithologist Martin Davison said: “Getting another three eggs is fabulous news.
“This is the critical time as once eggs hatch there’s a very good chance the chicks will fledge.
“Kielder is key for the bird’s fortunes as it is one of only two locations in England where the once-extinct creature has naturally re-colonised.”