The course will be based in the Cairngorms National Park and run over a full year. It will include a large proportion of self-study, including the production of Field Notebooks, but will include tuition in the field and classroom.
There will be an introductory weekend, followed by four study weekends, one in each of the four seasons. Self-study will take place between these weekends, with guidance on what to focus on.
Continual mentoring will be available throughout the course, to ensure the notes and information recorded in the students Field Notebook is adequate, however a private Facebook page will also be set up and it is anticipated that the students will communicate their own growing knowledge and information between themselves, to provide their own solutions to identification issues. There will also be some assessments in the field based on specific tasks set in advance.
The final assessment will take place in the field in spring, to include recognition of birds by sight, but also by calls and songs. There will also be short written tests to cover species less likely to be met in the field, including species found in other seasons.
The course is run by Speyside Wildlife, drawing on its long experience of running wildlife tours and using its experienced guides. LANTRA (a nationally recognised awarding organisation, specialising in training and qualifications) has accredited the course, so that successful participants will be awarded a LANTRA Certificate of Training.
Guided experience, Self-guided experience, Field school
Plants and Animals
By the end of the course the participant should be able to correctly identify the major birds and mammals seen and heard in the Cairngorms National Park; know what species are likely to occur in which habitats and at what time of year. They will also have a basic appreciation of what wildlife guiding entails.