March Indoor Meeting Report

There was a good turnout (24 people) at the RSPB Forth Valley Group meeting on Thursday 21st March to listen to a talk by Tom Bowser of Argaty Red Kites, titled ‘Argaty Developments’.

The first part of the presentation covered the re-introduction of Red Kites into Central Scotland, and what this meant for the Argaty Farm.  Red Kites were widespread in the 16th and 17th centuries, but by the 19th century numbers were much reduced by hunting, with the last Red Kites in Scotland killed in the early 20th century.

Red Kites were re-introduced using birds from Europe, and one of the introductions was to an estate in Central Scotland.  The birds dispersed from this site and were observed over the Argaty Farm.  To meet the interest from the public, it was decided to establish a regular feeding station on the farm.  This contributed to the interest in rewilding on the farm, which has included the development of wet areas and ponds for insect life, and the removal of Grey Squirrels to encourage the return of the Red Squirrels. The second part of the presentation covered the introduction of Beavers onto the Argaty farm.  The Beavers were relocated from other Scottish populations, where they were identified as a threat to farm land.  Tom Bowser was approached to see whether Beavers could be released onto the farm.  This proposal met with strong opposition from neighbouring landowners, and, surprisingly, NatureScot! Eventually permission was granted for the release of Beavers, and in 2021, working with Beaver Trust and Five Sisters Zoo, Beavers were reintroduced to unfenced ponds on the farm.  There is now a settled population on the farm, with new kits born last year.  Evidence was presented about the Beavers ability to manage their environment to control water flows during both wet and dry periods.  There have been significant improvements in biodiversity around the ponds developed by the Beavers. (PW)