Restoring the grazers, keeping the moths

P1040640P1040642Flanders Moss NNR

The Wards of Goodie part of Flanders Moss is one of the oldest recorded farms on the moss. In John Harrisons’ report “A historical background of Flanders Moss” here there is a record that in 1452 James II, to celebrate the birth of his son the future James III, gave the farm, Wards of Goodie, to his servant Robert Nory.  Since then (and probably before) farmers have worked away on the productive land next to the river (the Goodie Water) while trying to clear peat from the edge of the moss to win more good farmland. By the mid 1850’s the peat clearance had ground to a halt there mainly because it seemed that the land was so flat it was difficult to get enough fall to be able to use water to flush away the cut, waste peat. The peatland edge will have been traditional grazed by sheep and also cattle, the slightly raised ground is a useful refuge for the stock in the winter when the flood prone Goodie regularly puts the productive land under water.

But changing farming economics meant that the small farm could no longer support a family and the traditional management declined. But now with a new owner who farms elsewhere as well, the grazing on the edge of the moss is being re-established. The first thing that needs to be done is to refence the areas. But as ever on a bog things are never that simple. firstly there is the tricky process of fencing on the giant jelly. Special machinery and extra long posts are needed. And normally the old fence would be taken down and removed and the new one put up on the boundary line. But the old fence is a favourite spot for one of Flanders special moths, the Rannoch brindled beauty. This moth is found in few places in Scotland with Flanders being one of the most southerly. They are odd in that the female doesn’t have wings but instead just sits there, pumps out pheromones and waits for the males to pick up the scent and find her. The cracked, lichen encrusted old fence has large numbers of females on it in spring. We don’t know if the moths are just using the fence posts as a good way of gaining height to get their scent to spread further or if they are actually egg laying in the cracks of the posts. Either way we have kept the old fence and got the fencers to run the new fence a foot or two from it.

 

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A pair of Rannoch brindled beauties using one of the old fence posts that we have saved.

With the new fence up we can now work with the landowner to get some careful grazing on the moss edge that will benefit the bog vegetation.

 

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