This April has proved to be as predictable as ever. We’ve had ‘April showers’ on and off over the past couple of days which will do wonders for all the plants growing on the reserve. Last week it looked like all our willows were covered in furry caterpillars. These catkins are bursting with yellow pollen and I’m sure would wreck havoc for anyone with allergies.
The amazing thing about willow is that they have given rise to the world’s most widely used medicine – acetyl salicylic acid, also know as aspirin. Ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians used the bark of willow for treating headaches and rheumatism. It is a said that a natural remedy for treating headaches is to chew willow bark, not that I have tried!
On an estate near us, willow is grown as a biomass fuel and sent to a local power station to generate electricity, it is also used ‘more quaintly’ for basket weaving and most importantly for making cricket bats.
Willows love wetland habitats and are often found growing near rivers and watercourses. You will find lots of willow growing in and around our meadow and along the boardwalk. If you have one in your garden that you are hoping to remove, be careful. Willow splits and compresses in unusual ways, and can be very unpredictable when felling.
Our resident peregrines are proving to be as exciting as ever. They changed there nest site after we thought they had laid an egg already. It’s been rather confusing for all of us watching but they now seem settled on a ledge last used in 2008. We think they have two eggs but we can’t see into the nest without disturbing them. We’ve therefore decided to wait until they hatch to see what we have got!
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger