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Spotlight On: James Elliott, Countryside Ranger, Cameron House on Loch Lomond

This month's 'Spotlight On' post features James Elliott, Countryside Ranger at Cameron House on Loch Lomond, who inspires us with his take on wildlife and the natural world both in and around Loch Lomond and beyond.

I split my role as Countryside Ranger into three main categories. The first is to provide information, interpretation and environmental education. Whether with adults or children, my aim is to enhance their interest and enjoyment in wildlife and the natural world. Watching a guest’s face as they see a kingfisher fly along the river, or hear their first pipistrelle on a bat detector, is the best part of my job!

The second function of my role is natural resource protection. In this capacity I am managing the more natural areas of the estate (woodlands, wetlands, grassland etc.) in a way that improves biodiversity and protects natural species. This could be further divided into survey work (recording plants and animals present in a particular location) and practical work e.g. planting trees, erecting fences, removing non-natives. From my own experience I have found that help from volunteers can be invaluable in achieving the larger projects. Luckily we are situated within the National Park and have a large volunteer base to draw upon. The third part of my role is visitor monitoring and recreational management. At times this can prove to be the most difficult and frustrating part of the job. Loch Lomond has many visitors, though not everyone who comes to the estate treats the picturesque surroundings with the respect it deserves. I believe that in order to reduce litter and damage to the estate it is important to speak to the campers and fishermen who use the area. Most people are responsible, though for the few who are not I have found the best way to bring them onside is to persuade them that by using the natural recourse they have a stake in the area and that it is within their interest to keep it beautiful. Many thanks to James for his contribution to our blog. Great Outdoors Festival, 1st - 9th September 2012 You can join James in a free Carrick Ranger Ramble as part of the Great Outdoors Festival on Saturday 8th September, from 1pm - 3.30pm. This ramble through the Carrick’s nature reserve takes in a number of different habitats including woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and the two large lagoons. On route the group shall be looking at the rich flora of the area, finding out which animals make their home here and keeping a keen eye on the river for the resident  kingfishers. Grade: 2, Distance: 4km. To Book call 07827 852973 or email james.elliott@cameronhouse.co.uk Meeting Point: Clubhouse main entrance, The Carrick Golf Club, Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire G83 8QZ.

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