Jamie has been living on Uist for over 30 years and has vast experience in managing high nature value sites, in particular; machair. He is the site manager for Balranald and Vallay Nature Reserves and the North Uist Corncrake Recovery Area. He works closely with the Scottish Agricultural College right across the islands from North Uist to Barra assisting with agri-environmental schemes. “Wildlife thrives in these areas and there is a beautiful symbiotic relationship that works for people and for nature.” Jamie also has first-hand experience as he is a crofter himself; looking after a small cattle herd on the family crofts. Leisure pursuits when he is not managing the croft or working include fishing and football.
Meet the team
Uist: Jamie Boyle
Argyll: Louise Muir
Louise made the Hebrides her home in 2004 and for 12 years she was managing Smaull Farm, an RSPB reserve dedicated to low intensity and high nature value farming. Since November she has been working with crofters and farmers in Argyll to help improve the fortunes of the rare and noisy corncrake. She also assists with entrance into agri-environment schemes working alongside the Scottish Agricultural College. “Often all it takes is someone to look at land with a different perspective to see the opportunities for wildlife conservation alongside a farming operation”. Community ceilidhs, local gins and wild swimming keep her occupied when she is not working.
Skye: Shelagh Parlane
Shelagh is the powerhouse behind RSPB corncrake conservation on Skye. She has been working in the community for over 11 Years. Always enthusiastic and happy to help, what she doesn’t know about toppers and limers (tractor implements for corncrake conservation) isn’t worth knowing. Most of her work is based on Waternish; a peninsula on Skye, where the landscape is characterised by small crofts and crofting townships, but she is happy to support crofters across the whole island. “Small changes can make a big difference”. When she is not driving about in a tractor she can be found making cinnamon buns and enjoying an espresso.
Lewis & Harris: Shona Morrison
Shona is a corncrake warden on Lewis & Harris. She works with crofters implementing corncrake conservation management across Lewis, based mainly in Ness. She is working with local graziers to encourage more cattle and sheep onto areas for the benefit of wildlife and summer nights are spent out surveying the corncrake. She also manages a group of enthusiastic volunteers who to help create corncrake habitats. Shona is Lewis born and bred and when she is not seeing to her horses every needs, she can be found walking her dogs on the moors, machairs and beaches.
Orkney: Thomas Wells
Tom has been working on Orkney since 2019 and is the RSPB’s principal contact for “all things corncrake” on Orkney and surrounding islands. He is on the lookout for land managers who are interested in managing their land in a corncrake friendly manner and will be surveying corncrake throughout the summer. He is also working with a number of local organisations on the North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme which aims to protect and celebrate the islands rich natural heritage in a way which helps support the fragile island community. Tom is a big birder and can often be seen with a good set of binos seeking out the rarities which are commonplace on Orkney at certain times of the year.
Durness: Kate Clarke
Kate is a conservation advisor who admirably covers a huge area of North Scotland. Her two main areas of work are waders in the Cairngorms and corncrakes on the north coast near Durness. She works with farmers, crofters and agricultural agents providing land management advice and encouraging wildlife conservation, she is also involved in applications for agri-environment schemes. When she is not at Durness or in the Cairngorms she is probably somewhere between; hiking into solitude and wilderness.
Project Manager: Jane Shadforth
Jane keeps the show on the road! She moved to Inverness in 2019 to develop the initial RSPB bid into a full NLHF grant application for the project. With a background managing IT projects she keeps things on track by spending most days juggling project activities, finance, reporting and communications. She is learning about conservation through self-study and volunteering which has included projects on Arctic climate change, the Atlantic rainforest, blanket bog at RSPB Forsinard, saving species such as wolves, vultures, Bonelli’s eagle and Marsican brown bears and now her focus is on saving corncrakes. When not at her desk, she enjoys endurance sport, live music and continues to learn through volunteering (including breeding bird surveys for RSPB Scotland and practical tasks at Merkinch Local Nature Reserve).