Two wildlife rangers get posting to remote Scottish island

Scottish Wildlife Trust of wildlife rangers Craig Nisbet and Francesca Clair have been made seasonal rangers at the Handa Island Wildlife Reserve off the west coast of Sutherland. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire
Scottish Wildlife Trust of wildlife rangers Craig Nisbet and Francesca Clair have been made seasonal rangers at the Handa Island Wildlife Reserve off the west coast of Sutherland. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire
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A pair of wildlife rangers have been recruited to help look after wildlife on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland.

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Craig Nisbet and Francesca Clair have been made seasonal rangers at the Handa Island Wildlife Reserve off the west coast of Sutherland.

The remote island in the Inner Hebrides is internationally important for seabirds including guillemots with an estimated 100,000 birds visiting every year.

The pair will live and work on the island from March to September 2018 and be joined by up to six long term and 50 weekly volunteers over the season.

Mr Nisbet has spent the last 10 years with Scottish Natural Heritage including four continuous seasons as reserve manager of Noss National Nature Reserve in Shetland and worked in Arctic Norway identifying and filming orcas and humpback whales.

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.”

Ms Clair 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.

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

Handa Island is owned by Scourie Estate and managed with help from the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

A small ferry sails between Handa and Tarbet on the mainland in addition to boat trips operating to the island from Fanagmore.

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.

Sven Rasmussen, reserves manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust, 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.”

The Scottish Wildlife Trust offers opportunities to volunteer on Handa Island for a week or for long-term placements from two weeks to five months.