Henry’s tour day 51: Coignafearn

Weds 24 June 2015 Copy Henry went to visit the Coignaferan Estate, nestled deep in the Monadliaths. This has got to be one of the most progressive sporting estates in Scotland.

Known as an eagle-killing blackspot in the 1980s, it was bought by Sigrid Rausing in 1998 and she has set about restoring an ecological balance with an enlightened vision.

In addition to a comprehensive deer culling policy to regulate the grazing pressure, the development of an extensive native woodland and scrub regeneration scheme, a blanket bog and peat restoration scheme, a scheme to recover important riparian habitat and a ban on the culling of mountain hares, Dr Rausing has been a prominent supporter of raptor conservation.

With the help of Roy Dennis (her ecological advisor), she has re-built previously destroyed eagle eyries and provides supplementary winter feeding for golden eagles to encourage their return. Coignafearn is an important ‘nursery’ area for young golden eagles, as demonstrated by the frequent visits made by satellite-tracked eagles from across Scotland. In 2011, she spoke out about landowners and gamekeepers killing golden eagles (see here) – a brave move and one that gained the respect of raptor workers and conservationists.

Part of the estate is managed for red grouse shooting although Dr Rausing’s approach is very different to that of many other grouse moor owners. The grouse on Coignaferan are not intensively managed (no heather burning & no medicated grit here) because she’s not interested in ‘big bag’ sizes – she’s all about ecological balance. The estate runs a viable shoot but it is also home to a wide range of raptors who have found sanctuary at Coignafearn in the otherwise hell-ish Monadliaths & surrounding areas, where not much has changed from what was going on several decades ago (see here for a pretty grim map).

If you get the chance, you really should try and visit Coignafearn (visitors are welcome here!).


7 Responses to “Henry’s tour day 51: Coignafearn”

  1. 1 Bimbliing
    June 24, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Any hen harriers there?

  2. 2 Peter Shearer
    June 24, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Good to see some enlightened people are trying to fight the cause.

  3. 3 Mr Greer Hart, senior
    June 25, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Sigrid Rausing has been known for some time to have brought sanity into managing a part of the Scottish landscape, in accordance with the modern, humane approach necessary to see the return of our Birds of Prey, and other wildlife.

    However, what would happen if this lady leaves the scene, would all her work be destroyed by some new owner financed by one of our banks with a bad reputation for financing the negative in the environmental world?

    I would say that the following for better management of the Scottish environment, and the restoration of many of the lost woodlands/plantlife and wildlife, should now give form to itself, and raise the funds nationally and internationally, to buy such estates. For this to be a success, they would have to ensure that the owner has left instructions for a fixed price for the estate, and priority to be given to such a body. Of course, with the wealth of some of the estate owners, the estate could be left to the nation, and administered by such a group.

    Raptor Persecution Scotland has brought a great searchlight on the Scottish scene, and revealed a horror story. What has been seen, is the dinosaur world of some of the landowners, and the viciousness of the more recent owners, in conducting their business, and exhibiting unacceptable practices that no modern and humane thinking politicians should tolerate. How can any person be allowed to own vast tracts on our islands , and others dominate extensive parts of our countryside?

    Raptor Persecution has shown that some shooting estate owners can run their estates in accordance with what conservationist and animal welfare groups recommend, as being necessary for our Birds of Prey to come back into our skies.

    However, I would like to see the day when humanely run estates are under the aegis of a strong conservationist policy, and for our present wildlife charities to have their land holding greatly increased. We require our Police, Fiscal and Judiciary services to be restored to what they should be as enforcers of all the law, and not to be influenced by elites and powerful individuals. Also, for any Scottish Government to be uniformly better informed, as to the importance of our having a new regime in control of the whole landscape of this country. Elsewhere in the world, we are seeing poaching, corruption of authorities, destructive developments, and trophy shooting, destroying their natural environment, and wildlife. Surely, we should be more advanced and not to have a part of our country being affected in a similar way. That stigma of most of our shooting estates should be a national shame, needing quick correction.

  4. 4 Les Wallace
    June 25, 2015 at 11:10 am

    If you really want to see how special Sigrid Rausing’s attitude and actions are in comparison to vast majority of estates then I can’t think of any better way than looking at Patrick Barkham’s excellent video on Scottish deer culling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEssrQajHWw – the remarks from estate owner Andy Hibbert underline the insanity of how much of this country is ‘managed’. The Scandinavians aren’t copying our ‘wonderful’ grouse moors and stalking estates, they are bringing their common sense here. Thank you Dr Rausing!

  5. 5 Merlin
    June 26, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Coignaferan, I had heard about this estate but believed it was a myth like Atlantis, great to hear its true and the best of luck to all involved, hope you enjoy your sport in truely natural surroundings

  6. 6 Chris Roberts
    June 28, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    What an enlightened and marvellous lady, unlike most of the morons and their gamekeepers, who are doing their utmost to destroy our uplands.

  7. 7 John
    September 26, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Although Coignafearn is doing a lot for the raptors in the region which is deservedly commended here, its policy of heavy hind culls contrary to the deer management plan in place in the region needs review. Also, I think to tar all gamekeepers with the ‘doing their utmost to destroy our uplands’ is misinformed at best

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