It’s been another busy but exciting few weeks as we continue our work with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. We have been preparing for the upcoming moth night in August and brushing up on our ID skills with the many different species of moths that live on the reserve by setting a moth trap outside the bothy and leaving it overnight. By early morning we had many different moths including burnished brass, common carpet, green carpet, antler moth and one confused bumblebee! We released the moths (and bumblebee) into the undergrowth to ensure they didn’t get predated on by birds.
Alongside being busy with moth trapping, we had an amazing day out at Tomdachoille in the wildflower meadow with Faith Anstey, a local botanist who specialises in wildflowers. She was incredibly knowledgeable with a vast array of identifying tips and tricks, such as telling us about the two main groups of wildflowers; monocots and dicots. What’s a monocot or a dicot? Well, monocots have slender, long leaves with parallel veins and floral parts usually in multiples of three parts, whereas dicots have leaves with net-like veins and multiples of four or five floral parts.
The wildflower meadow looked incredible and we managed to ID a variety of wildflowers such as ladies bedstraw, meadowsweet, pignut, red campion, ragged robin, field scabious, cowslip and many more!
If you’d like to learn how to use Faith’s ‘foolproof flower flowchart’ you can click here to order her handy pocket sized book.
With wildflower and moth ID under our belts we have also been busy bashing through the jungle of bracken at Keltneyburn reserve with the help of grasshooks and a small army of volunteers. Bracken bashing is essential to keep the wildflower meadow flourishing and prevent the bracken from dominating and shading out other more vulnerable species.
Later in the week we also spent a day with a group of volunteers with our Keltneyburn neighbours and Heart of Scotland Forest Partnership colleagues, Emma Kareno and Henning Hoeber of Garth Wood, an 80 acre former forestry plantation which was felled in 2018 with the plan of rewilding the area. Native broad leaf trees have been planted to encourage a variety of species back, ponds and scarpes created and natural processes allowed to unfold. Although the weather mixed, we had a fantastic day bracken bashing on the steep slopes, enjoying the stunning (misty) views down the Strath and learning about the tireless work of Emma and Henning to rewild their land.
With a busy programme of public events over the summer season, we were delighted to be able to attend a talk at the Visitor’s Centre by local wildlife rehabber and talented author Polly Pullar. Polly gave a captivating insight into her life growing up in Ardnamurchan, an idyllic region of the West Highlands and shared stories of the amazing animals she rescued and lived with while growing up there. Polly spoke passionately both about the importance of conserving nature, but also of the power of wildlife and nature to heal us too. In her years of looking after a variety of creatures Polly has successfully rehabilitated everything from a snowy owl (which had flown too far down south and landed on an oil rig) to red squirrels kits – the adorable footage of them running around her kitchen was truly memorable!
On the topic of wildlife, our resident osprey young fledged a few weeks ago. During their time from eggs to chicks, a huge amount of time and effort went into making sure they were undisturbed, thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers and Species Protection Officer. It was only fair that we celebrated the journey of the chicks taking to the air for the first time and the incredible work of the volunteers with a Fledging Party! Some amazing homemade food was brought by the volunteers to share, data findings explored and highlights of the season watched in a video montage. It was quite a bittersweet moment as our ospreys continue their journey into adulthood in what has been a season of many challenges!
As if the week wasn’t busy enough we also presented our first Beaver Watch public event (which we were all quite nervous about)! Thankfully all went swimmingly (no pun intended) and we had some amazing views of a beaver nibbling on the lily pads on the loch and feeding on the water’s edge. We were all taken aback by the size of this beaver, he was quite a hefty lad (or lass)!!
We are looking forward to having more fantastic wildlife encounters and undertake more work that will make a positive impact for nature.
Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for our next blog!
Assistant Ranger Team
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It’s been another busy but exciting few weeks as we continue our work with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. We have been preparing for the upcoming moth night in August and …