Level 3 students from our Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Conservation and Wildlife Management programme gained unique research experience during an inaugural study tour to the Isle of Skye.

This tour was the brainchild of Curriculum Area Manager Jamie Cook who recognised the need to visit a location where a complexity of habitats and wildlife could be found in relatively close proximity.

At only 50 miles long, the Isle of Skye fitted the bill perfectly with its varied habitats and indigenous species of flora and fauna.

The 25 students who were accompanied by 4 members of staff from Reaseheath’s countryside department conducted research on the island’s coastline and in the breath-taking moorland, woodland and mountains for which Skye is renowned.

Field work was linked to course content with the aim of underpinning theory learned in the classroom. Research activities included surveying, diversity counts, and the classification of botanical species.

The group were given first-hand opportunity to hone their identification skills by spotting and recording wildlife such as sea eagles, otters, harbor porpoises, and golden eagles.

Diversity counts of the island’s flora were taken which included several species of orchid and carnivorous plants such as the Sundew. Students also engaged in coastal surveys by gathering samples of seaweed and linking their findings to pollution levels.

Staying in the high-quality, self-catering accommodation provided by the Flora McDonald Youth Hostel, the group enjoyed the many social aspects of their island experience.

Study tour organiser Peter Groom commented: “Not only do study tours such as this demonstrate the diversity of the UK landscape, they also revitalise the learning experience. One cannot simply study the environment from within a classroom, one has to experience it.”