Rap on The Moss

Flanders Moss, NNR 

Recently we have been going through some old documents on the shelf and came across a CD of People, Peat and Poetry and I thought I would share one of the many poems with you:

Written by children at Thornhill and Kincardine of Menteith
Primary Schools with Louie, April 2009

Bumble bees buzzing by
striped and round as they fly
slimy snakes scared and sly
but they can be very shy
and you can hear the cuckoo’s calling
to one another as the sun is dawning
moss is green, red and brown
never ever will it frown
whirly gigs always whirling away
keeping on the boggy bay
you can see deer play and jump
over all the mossy bumps
trees like wee old ladies huddled together
blowing in the wind discussing the weather
no one ever will be cross
if you visit Flanders Moss

Caterpillar drunk from drinking cans
moves his legs along in a slow dance
trying to advance, eating leaves that are green
some think he is greedy, he’s an eating machine!
amphibians such as newts and frogs
need water to survive the same as the bog
we saw bugs skating along
moss bears silently burst into song
butterflies born out of hatching cocoons
among pond skaters, but no baboons
wildlife is full blown in June
maybe you should visit here soon

The cat tail floating on the pond,
today was a great way for us to bond,
bugs amazing surfing on the surface,
in their own direction with their own purpose.
metamorphosis caterpillar turns into a moth,
spreading her wings slow and soft
they are golden black and brown
the moss is deep and goes a long way down
I saw a dragonfly come out of its nymph
I’ve never seen anything like it since
you could see snakes on a very cold morning,
they creep up on you with a very short warning

Red sundew eating midgies,
underfoot the peat was squidgy
egg yellow sphagnum covering the peats
meadow pippets humming their own beats
water beetles dancing on deep green ditches
the caterpillar’s cute, but its hair would give you itches
hearing cuckoos singing and fluttering
can you hear the moss bears muttering?
fluffy caterpillars crawling along
pond skaters skimming with legs oh so long
this is where the beasties really belong,
and that’s how we’re gonna end this song.

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No trumpet blown here……….

Flanders Moss, NNR 

Last week we helped host an informal discussion on the management and contribution the reserve makes to combating climate change along with key speakers from the deer management team on their collaborative approach on and around the Moss to our Senior Leadership Team and Board members of Scottish Natural Heritage.


Looking back on what we have done over the years in restoring the bog and improving public access we have done pretty well ….. I would even say we have done extremely well in bringing the bog to the people, helping people access the bog, locking up boat-loads of carbon and providing natural flood risk management in an area of high flooding risk… but I wouldn’t like to blow our own trumpet too much.

To put some of this into context we have:

  • Removed 40 ha of conifer plantation
  • Removed 100’s of ha of scrub on the moss surface (never ending battle)
  • Dammed about 30 km of ditches (blocked a major outflow)
  • 25 ha of stump flipping
  • Recreated 2.5 km Lagg fen.

NNRs can also provide excellent opportunities for scientific study and research both because they are home to rare and important natural features but also because they are subject to consistent and well documented management. Encouraging research on NNRs is a good thing – for the staff who manage the sites, for students, academics, authors and researchers – and we do just that on our NNRs.

Board visit to flandes

One thing that we have been working on is trying to get a better understanding of just how many research projects Flanders Moss has actually helped support over the years. So far we have managed to source 93 reports that have been done over 28 years! So if my maths is correct we help on average at least 3 study/researchers a year just at Flanders moss.

No trumpet blown here………….

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First time on the bog!

Our new member of staff, Ellen Bird, says hello!

I’m really looking forward to my year’s placement on the Stirling NNRs. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to gain practical experience in conservation and land management. I am mostly a bird-enthusiast but I’m a lover of all Scottish wildlife and over the next year I would like to improve my plant and invertebrate ID skills.

I studied Zoology at university and have volunteered for several conservation charities in Scotland, most recently with The Conservation Volunteers as part of a Hedgehog survey project in Glasgow. I enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities and have been lucky enough to have carried out fieldwork in really amazing places, including the Rocky Mountains in Canada and on St Kilda.

Currently, I am finishing my masters in Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Glasgow. For my dissertation project I used GPS tags to track Tawny owls in the forest around Aberfoyle, to study their behaviour over the breeding season. Whilst I am finishing up my dissertation I have started working on the NNRs part-time, which has been a very welcome and refreshing break from staring at a laptop all day!

Last week I had my first visit to Flanders Moss and was told by Amee to take some binoculars and a camera and to go have fun! I have never spent much time on a bog before and was amazed by the diversity of wildlife I saw over such a short time.

It was a warm sunny day and I saw loads of common lizards basking on the boardwalk and black darter and common hawker dragonflies. I saw a redstart in the birch trees at the edge of the moss, heard stonechats and spoke to visitors who had spotted a newt in the pools. I’m excited to see what Flanders and the other Stirling reserves have to offer the rest of the year and looking forward to exploring other less-visited parts of the bog.

Common lizard
Black darter
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Hot spot for Dragons

Flanders Moss, NNR 

A couple of weekends ago we hosted a dragonfly event run in partnership with Danielle from the British Dragonfly Society


Peatlands are the perfect habitat for dragonflies and damselflies.  The restoration we have carried out around the boardwalk has made it a perfect viewing platform and hot spot for admiring and recording these species.

The acidic water in the bog pools provides a great habitat for many species.  Emerald,  Large red, Common blue, Common Hawker, Black darter and Four-spotted chaser damselflies are just some of the species you will come across on a dry and fairly still kind of day at Flanders during the summer months.

All the restoration work that has been carried out over the last couple of years has had the intended effect of raising the water table.  Where we once had an aggregate path we now have a boardwalk, which has created more habitat but there is still plenty more work of this sort to do.

We will be hosting another volunteer event in October to undertake restoration to some of our bog pools to help with conservation. If you would like to find out more about this volunteer event, then please email amee.hood@nature.scot for more information.



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Summer Nature club – Week 3

Blawhorn Moss, NNR 

Week 3 seen us come to the end of our Summer Nature Club for 2019, we spent two full days at Beechbrae where Sammy got the young group to decided on how they wanted to spend their last couple of days.

Day 5

The group had a hidden talent of art which we never knew about, they loved drawing and were very artistic. It also kept them very quiet and Sammy had to remind them it was lunch time.

Some created and decorated jam jars to help butterflies as part of our pollinator strategy – the jar lid had a small hole where cotton wool was fed through to act as a wick and for sugar water inside the jar.  Then the artists picked a location within the woodland to hang the jar up.

After lunch Sammy taught the group on how to carve their own stick for roasting their own marshmallow and how to start a fire but before they were let loose a further safety talk was needed. Only two knifes were allowed at the one time due to the adult to young people ratio so whist two were carving away the rest of the group were off gathering wood for the fire.

Day 6

With the extreme warm weather the group wanted to spend their last day having a water fight in the woodland, so to bring a close to the nature club their wish came true and they all brought in their own water guns.


Whether Steve, Sammy or myself got involved in the water fight is a question we will leave unanswered but before they embraced the war on each other on cooling down they had to gather wood because after the water fight they would be gaining more fire making skills and creating a fire pit for their calzone pizza they would cook for lunch.

It was sad when the clock rolled 2pm as that was the end of the Summer Nature Club for 2019.  It was lovely to hear all the young people talk about how they were going to keep in touch and how some are now going to see about joining the local scouts. The group loved being in the outdoors and learning outside a school classroom.  The summer nature club has helped form young people in neighbouring communities to come together who would not normally meet until they went to the local high school, which can be rather daunting for some. It has kept them busy over the summer holidays which can also be hard for families. We stay hopeful that we can secure funding for next year to work in partnership with Beechbrae to open this opportunity up to other young people in the community for the summer holidays to connect them with nature.


We would like to say a massive THANK YOU to Sammy at Beechbrae who was the driving force for this summer nature club.  She brought skills Steve and myself couldn’t bring and organisation skills in rounding up the young people to attend. We work closely with Sammy as we honestly couldn’t do this on our own due to resources: she helps us achieve our aim of connecting people with nature and linking it all back to Blawhorn Moss NNR.

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Summer Nature Club – Week 2

Blawhorn Moss, NNR

Week 2 of the Summer Nature Club had us going back in time to find out what Blawhorn Moss would have been 3000 years ago! Last week we had an insight into just how deep the peat we stood on was, so now we wanted to learn what the land would have been like thousands of years ago. This was also something new for Stephen and me.


Throw back to last week

Day 3 was at Blawhorn Moss, NNR

Steve took the group back 3000 years (not literally!): this involved a lot of team work, turning the Russian peat core and pulling it out required many hands on deck. Each core was then laid out on drain pipes, and we calculated and marked down how many thousands of years we had gone back. Our core from 3000 years ago provided many chunky bits of timber, which indicate the land would have been boggy woodland.

Our core from 1500 – 2000 years ago contained more broken down plant material than the thick timber chunks we had found a thousand years earlier. We speculated that core had changed in this era due to timber being cut down and harvested, possibly by the indigenous population or even the Romans. Our task was to keep the peat core very simple, this way it was easily interpreted and we could visually link the years going back in time. The colour in the peat cores also varied over the thousands of years and the deeper we went the darker it became along with it being wetter.

Day 4 we spent at Beechbrae

The young people in the club decide what they want to do each day. Beechbrae had turned a boggy bit of ground into a thriving haven for biodiversity which has created a fantastic wild pond. The group wished to spend an hour or so pond dipping! They were coming across pond snails, leechs, Water beetle larvae, Backswimmers, Pond skaters, Lesser water boatmen and Newts. Their pond is thriving with life!

After lunch they decided to make a den within the community woodland so a detailed tool talk was needed and Sammy identified the trees the group could use to build with. For some young people this was a new adventure, it was even a new task for me as I’d never built a den before either! Luckily we had 2 young people who attend the local scouts and were pros.

Thanks to funding from the Climate Challenge Fund, Beechbrae have been working hard to create space to grow food for their local village and has lots of space outside for the hardier fruit and vegetables to grow. At the end of the day it is lovely to see the young people line up with their bags ready to take away healthy natural foods, locally sourced, back to their families.

This week we will host our last 2 days for the summer nature club, where we will be focusing on cooking, and using natural ingredients along with some outdoor craft making.

Stay tuned for week 3!

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A variety of ecosystems in one place!

Flanders Moss, NNR

Last weekend Steve helped support a guided walk in partnership with Plantlife.  In return we asked for their thoughts on why they choose Flanders Moss and how the walk went. This is what they had to say:

Plantlife is 30 years old this year! To celebrate, we went on a special members’ walk through an important plant area, Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve! This ancient and panoramic reserve has a wonderful circular bog trail, and with the help of Steve Longster from SNH, we set out to discover what Flanders Moss has to offer!


And it did not disappoint! We were particularly pleased to see a beautiful wildflower meadow near the car park; such a variety of ecosystems in one place! The weather was on our side and we had a full turnout from Plantlife members so it was definitely a perfect day! We saw many wonderful plants including lot of sphagnum mosses, round-leaved sundew, cranberry, bog asphodel, and plenty of dragonflies! We are truly fortunate to have such an amazing reserve in Scotland, and we are even more fortunate to have such a great partnership with SNH!


Click on Plantlife for more information on how you can discover wild plants and the work they do. 


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