Handa Islands Wildlife Reserve gets new rangers for six-month live in posting

TWO conservationists have been appointed as rangers one one of Scotland’s most notable wildlife reserves.

Craig Nisbet and Francesca Clair as Seasonal Rangers on Handa Island Wildlife Reserve, off the west coast of Scotland.

The island is internationally important for seabirds including guillemots.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust has appointed the pair to work and live on the island from March through until September.

They will be joined by up to six long-term and 50 weekly volunteers over the season.

Craig said they were looking forward to the challenge.

He said: “Francesca and I are passionate about conservation. We’re both looking forward to working and living with volunteers, meeting the visitors, and making a connection with the land, the sea and the local community.”

Craig Nisbet and Francesca Clair

Sven Rasmussen, Reserves Manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust, said their experience made them both natural candidates.

He said: “Handa is an extraordinarily beautiful place and is one of Europe’s most important seabird colonies.

“However, it is rather remote, which means our rangers have to be resourceful and resilient.

“Craig and Francesca are both experienced conservationists and I’m sure they have the skills needed to make 2018 a successful season for our volunteers, visitors and wildlife.”

Craig has spent the last 10 years with Scottish Natural Heritage including four continuous seasons as Reserve Manager of Noss National Nature Reserve in Shetland.

He has also been involved in a number of expeditions, most recently in Arctic Norway identifying and filming orcas and humpback whales.

Francesca has worked for several environmental organisations, including the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, focusing on education, community development and practical conservation, both in the UK and abroad.

Guillemots and puffin (c) Steve Gardner

The couple will help to manage coordinated counts of breeding seabirds and chicks, oversee repair work taking places on Handa’s path network, and ensure that thousands of people are able to enjoy a safe visit to the island.

Handa Island is owned by Scourie Estate and managed in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

During the summer, the island attracts tens of thousands of birds including guillemots, kittiwakes and fulmars. Dolphins, whales and basking sharks are often seen from the coast.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust offers several other ways for people to volunteer on the island.

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There are opportunities to volunteer for a week or for long term placements which last from two weeks to five months.

What do you think? Join the conversation on our facebook page here.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Volunteering on Handa

IMAGE CREDITS: Steve Gardner/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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