Flanders Moss NNR
Flanders Moss is an excellent place to exercise. The circular boardwalk and viewing tower are used by lots of different people to get the circulation going: after all is is a nice surface and a great place to spend some time. Some people amble, mooch and meander, others jog circuits, while others do reps up and down the viewing tower. As we work around the site we see people exercising while listening to music and though my preference is to listen to the amazing natural soundtrack going on around you, if listening to music while exercising is your thing then my collegues in the SNH Stirling office have some suggestions for an exclusive Flanders Moss playlist to use.
Why not try these next time:
1. – Green day – Boardwalk of broken dreams
2. – The cranberries -Linger
3. – Zoe – Sundew on a rainy day
4. – Rednex – Cottongrass-eyed Joe
5. – Rolling stones – Symphony for the Devil’s bit scabious
6. – Nirvana – Smells like bog spirit
7. – Duncan Chisolm – The flooded meadow
8. – Peatbog faeries – the dragonfly apprentice
9. – Elvis – You ain’t nothing but a hound bog
10.- Naked Flanders – Stride
11.- Peatbog faeries – Shifting peat and feet
12.- Peat and diesel – Salt and pepper
(All tracks by Bogshed were excluded as they are awful.)
Hope you enjoy the music and even more hope you enjoy Flanders Moss. We would welcome any further suggestions if you have any.
Many thanks to Darren, Steve, Kenny, Gavin and Patricia.
Loch Lomond NNR
This week we had a day out on the Loch Lomond NNR islands for various reasons. It was a just breathtaking morning as we chugged out on the boat. Mirror calm to start with, a bit fresh but beautiful. One reason for the visit was that we needed to launch the boat and make sure it was working ready for the season. It was a wee bit temperamental for a little while.
Kevin and Henry were surveying the islands for the effects of browsing by deer. The deer swim over the the islands quite freely and too many can have a really bad effect on the woodland. Flowers get eaten, young trees get chewed off and vegetation gets trampled. Torrinch wasn’t looking too bad but Creinch and Clairinch had received quite a bit of nibbling.
This year is a special year as aspen are actually flowering – in most other years they just spread by sending out suckers. Aspen flowering is rare so we checked the aspen on Torrinch and found just a few catkins on some of the oldest trees.
While going round the islands Steve and myself started noticing carcasses. Dead birds almost completely eaten. And these were big birds. The total number in the end was at least 10: 8 lesser black-backed gulls, 1 heron and at least 1 Canada goose. So what could be eating them? The signs were that it was a bird of prey as the keel bones had been picked clean and some had large notches in it caused by big hooked beaks. Very interesting. Maybe just a large female peregrine or an eagle of some sort but whatever it is it has to be big to overpower lesser black-backed gulls. So keep an eye out if you are around Loch Lomond.
Flanders Moss NNR
The moth season has started. Actually, some moths fly through the winter so it never really finishes but just goes quieter. Last Sunday, wrapped up in thermals, waterproofs, woolly hats and gloves etc. we went out to look for moths. Yes, it’s that belly button fluff time of year.
A female Rannoch brindled beauty – belly button fluff.
We were out looking for Rannoch brindled beauties. These are one of Flanders rarest moths – it is found in less than 30 10 km squares across the UK, and Flanders Moss is one of the most southerly places it is recorded. So, a rare moth and an unusual one. It is unusual because it comes out as an adult early in the year and the females don’t look much like moths: they have no wings and are very fluffy with the fluff keeping them warm on days such as the one we went out on. The lack of wings is because they don’t need them; they just pump out irresistible chemicals on the breeze that the males detect and can’t help themsleves but to follow the scent up wind to the female. Why fly if you can just sit there and let the males put in the effort?
Male Rannoch brindled beauties – above and below – they have to do all the flying.
The fence posts are also used for egg laying and the orange structure sticking out the back end of this female below is her egg laying tube which she will stick into cracks in the post to deposit eggs.
And this makes them one of the easiest moths to survey. The females climb whatever is nearby to get high so as to give their chemicals the best chance to catch the breeze. A fence post is ideal. So to monitor this moth you just find a fence line in the right habitat and then walk along it, crouched down, counting moths. I am guessing that from a distance it might look a bit strange as you develop a crab like crouch and scuttle with regular pauses but it is scientific monitoring at its best. And you don’t even need to pick good weather as the moths just sit there all through any cold or wet weather waiting for it to warm up and the action to start.
Flanders Moss NNR
Some of our first flowers are appearing in the Flanders wildflower meadow by the car park and the most obvious is some coltsfoot. A slightly odd looking plant, it has at the moment a bright yellow flower a bit like an all yellow daisy. The flower is on a tall robust flower stem that has green scales on it which serve as leaves early in the season. Later proper leaves come which are in the shape of a hoof print of a small horse hence its English name – coltsfoot. The Scottish name of tushylucky is a corruption of its latin name Tussilago farfara and is related to the latin tussis – to cough. This is a reference to its medicinal properties and at one time it was used to cure many health problems, but care is needed because more recent research have showed that it also has high levels of the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can cause serve liver problems. So beware.
For Flanders Moss the flowers, and there are lots out, offer an early nectar source for insects as well as being the food plants for caterpillars stunning moths such as the small angle shades and the Gothic.
Flanders Moss NNR
With things warming up the bird community is changing constantly at Flanders so I thought I would give you a quick update.
There are still big groups of pink footed geese passing through and on Wednesday a group of fieldfares and redwings were on the edge of the moss: the last of our winter visitors heading north.
Hard on their heels are the summer migrants. My first willow warbler of the year was singing in the Flanders car park on Wednesday and later in the day a very smart wheatear was out on the moss. Snipe, lapwing and curlew are all back and starting to hold territories. Herds of meadow pipits are all over the moss and fields next to the access track all mooching their way north and of course the ospreys have arrived back in the area so if you are visiting keep an eye upwards. More summer migrants will be not far off and we expect to hear cuckoos in maybe another 10 days. So plenty to see. Good luck.
If you want to know more information about birding at Flanders, and the rest of Scotland as well, then there is a new downloadable app available from the Scottish Ornithological Club here. It is great and gives you really good tips of where to go and what to look out for, and its free to download!
Flanders Moss NNR
Ralph Brook-Fox, one of our 2bogs… volunteer and osprey watcher is lucky enough to be able to watch the Flanders ospreys from his house. They are back so he is now settling down in his armchair for a summer of osprey watching and here he gives us our first bulletin of the action for the season:
People may remember that back in September Storm Ali inflicted some of the worst damage seen recently on the woods west of Flanders, with an ancient oak felled by the wind, and others losing up to half their branches. Of particular concern was the local Osprey nest which appeared to have lost its top layer of branches, and the adjacent half-dead Douglas Fir popular as a lookout / dining table which lost perhaps ten metres of its height.
So it was of some relief to see the first Osprey on 29th March, with both birds spotted a couple of days later. This is over a week earlier than experienced in the last three years. This seems to be a common trend – the Loch of Lowes male LM12 recorded his earliest ever arrival on 15 March, and the female LF15 laid her first egg on 4 April, 10 days earlier than last year. As ever, the SWT webcam is highly recommended.
The nest appears serviceable, although the local corvid population have been making a nuisance of themselves! Fortunately it does not seem to have put the Ospreys off, with a bit of nest reconstruction spotted subsequently.
Their neighbours a couple of miles further north are also firmly in residence, with both first spotted on Thursday, again significantly earlier than last year. Once again they will have to get the lawnmower out!
Flanders Moss NNR, Loch Lomond NNR, Blawhorn Moss NNR
We have a vacancy to fill on the team that looks after the 3 Stirling NNRs: Flanders Moss NNR, Loch Lomond NNR and Blawhorn Moss NNR. It is a 12 months’ student placement with a wage, a training budget and everything – a proper job. If you are successful you will get the chance to learn about the many aspects of nature reserve management on 3 big, wet, biodiverse and simply fantastic sites in Central Scotland. Based in the SNH Stirling office you will get to work with all sorts of great people – volunteers, SNH colleagues, landowners, species recorders and other partner organisations. And also me and Steve.
So we are looking for someone who is prepared to work hard, make the best of opportunities, be prepared to get up very early and sometimes go to bed very late, listen to (and tell) bad jokes, take one for the team, see some amazing nature, get wet and enjoy being outside in all weathers. If this sounds like it might be you then to find out more and check eligibilty follow the link here or go to the SNH website and check the vacancy pages. Or if you know someone that this might suit then please pass it on. This a great chance to get into a career of workimg on nature reserves.
Below will give you a little taste of what it is all about. As will this whole blog!