Will you have a thrilling Scottish wildlife experience on your next English Language Holiday?
If you are with us at Blue Noun you certainly will when we take you out to photograph birds of prey at Argaty Red Kites.
See for yourself how farming and wildlife conservation can work hand-in-hand.
Find out more about this English immersion activity by reading this blog.
As usual, we have a practice exercise for English language learners at the end!
An Award-Winning Touristic Experience
Argaty Red Kites is widely respected for its role in Scotland’s Red Kite Re-establishment Programme, but it also has many types of Scottish wildlife to show you.
It’s one of our top immersion English experiences as it offers:
- Close up encounters with Scottish wildlife
- Great photography opportunities
- Conversations with ecological and wildlife experts
Plus, by visiting we support and spread the word about this inspirational, environmental initiative.
Why do Red Kites Need Support Anyway?
These beautiful birds completely died out in Scotland.
Once a common sight scavenging in towns and cities – kites were wiped out when Scottish land use changed.
Grouse shooting estates took over farmland and birds were poisoned in their hundreds (as you will see yourself, they are group feeders – with one poisoned bait you could wipe out a community of birds).
Legislation now forbids the killing of any bird of prey in Scotland.
The RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage reintroduced red kites into Scotland, firstly in Black Isle (Ross-shire) in 1989 – and secondly, near Doune.
Lerrocks Farm was initially part of the support system for this second batch of breeding birds.
More recently they have provided a facility for the public to enjoy the birds without the risk of disturbing what is still a fragile population.
About Lerrocks Farm
Lerrocks Farm – is a working farm (700 Lleyn sheep and a herd of 80 Angus X cows) with this award-winning, income-generating eco-tourist attraction on it.
Cattle low in the background (and you’ll need to wear sturdy shoes for the terrain).
The farm itself is not on show to visitors as such – you can’t wander around cow barns – but there’s enough action happening around the place to show visitors farm life – which is famously relentless: while with one member of the team presents the birds to the visitors, others slip off to get on with farm tasks, coming back to answer questions the end.
“Here at Lerrocks Farm, we want you to enjoy the countryside, see the birds and learn how farming and wildlife conservation can work hand-in-hand.”
Agarty Red Kites website
What’s a Red Kite Feed Like?
First, Niall calls out to the birds in a whistle mimicking the birdcall of the kites.
The birds gathered in surrounding trees or circle overhead.
Feed begins at the same time daily – (and the movement of cars and visitors up the 2-mile long farm track must be as obvious as a diner bell to the birds).
Food is cast to the ground by one of the team (on this occasion, Lynn).
On the menu today was chopped up grey squirrel – as Agarty is also part of (native) red squirrel protection initiatives, which include trapping and killing (non-native) greys in areas where the two species are still present together, as grey squirrel populations wipe out red squirrel populations.
Fancy a Scraggy Bit of Squirrel?
The birds are hesitant at first, then they fly down and snatch a morsel away.
The squirrel is chopped small. This feed is not intended to supplement their savaging in the wild – just offer enough of incitement to show up (it’s about 20% of their daily diet).
Soon, they are down in large numbers. Many birds prefer to snatch food from the claws of others rather than land on the ground themselves. It’s so fast it’s quite hard to see, but the resulting photographs capture the action more clearly if your timing is perfect.
It’s Quite a Dinner Party
All throughout the feed, Niall told us facts about the birds’ numbers, habits and characteristics.
He talked about one particularly stroppy bird who he thought was just a bad-tempered bird. His son, who also works on the farm and has studied (and written a book on these kites) believes that this behaviour is perhaps ‘normal’ in healthy kite numbers.
He happily talked about the farm and livestock – and answered every question with passion and enthusiasm.
What Will You See on Your Next English Language Holiday?
The feed is dramatic, but there’s other wildlife to see on the site too. There are nesting boxes nailed to many trees and fence posts. Bird feeders placed around the hides further up the hill attract small birds and wildlife. On this visit alone we saw a pair of yellowhammers, a woodpecker and tree sparrows.
The river has beavers, the farm badgers (rarely seen but known to be there because of the frequent sightings of chewed up hedgehogs) and pine martins.
The team are currently trying to work out how to best show these nocturnal creatures to the public.
About The Blue Noun English Immersion Holiday Experience
At Blue Noun we want to give more than just English language skills, we want you to have fabulous experiences of Scotland to take away with you and remember.
A good immersion holiday should leave you in love with the country, wanting to stay in touch with the people and culture you were introduced to – and planning to travel again to explore further.
This is how you will stay interested in language learning and put effort and time into developing your English skills once you have left us.
All our immersion activities are selected with a pedagogic intent too. For example, at Agarty, you will wish to ask questions to learn more about the birds in front of you – and the eco-business built up around rescuing the species. Conversations will flow.
An Online Immersive English Experience
We know it’s hard to join us at the moment for live immersion English classes – but we are offering online classes and memberships tailored to your English learning needs.
Make sure you join our mailing list (link below).
At Blue Noun we love chatting about all things art and celebrate having excellent, talented people all around us to do it with. We facilitate real cultural and creative exchanges happening, whether it’s in our language learning space – the Blue Noun Hub – or out and about visiting studios and workshops and places of cultural interest.
We also love showing off the beauty of our region and the food and craft produce that is making it world-famous. Our whisky tastings are legendary!
Our business is also intended to be of benefit to the artist/maker economy of Perthshire. We bring our international creative guests into studios for a genuine exchange of cultures and art-making. Yes it’s an English lesson, but it is so much more! (Plus we pay all our artists and guest speakers for their time)
Come and join us for an English language learning holiday and grab a taste of Perthshire!
We hope you’ve enjoyed us sharing what yournext English language holiday could look like!
Need another example? Read about when Blue Noun went beaver-spotting on the River Tay.
Your English Language Challenge
We offer you a practice conversation opportunity with every blog. Today, it’s
‘Could you chop a squirrel up?’
It’s a provocative question to make you think about the human role in conservation and farming.
Did you grow up near a farm or have you never set foot on a farm – or something in between? What aspects of the farming lifestyle would suit you and what would you not like at all?
As usual, if you want us to correct any sentences, just write CP (correct please at the end of your comment).