Flanders Moss NNR
With the wintery weather Flanders and the surrounding landscape is looking spectacular. It is well worth a visit (though do be careful on the boardwalk where there is a bit of ice). If you do visit, here are one of two things to look out for:
A few mole hills have been appearing along side the path in the woodland in the last few days. For moles, bogs are not the best of places to be. Usually the water table would be pretty high and they would need a snorkel and flippers to survive. But on the edge of the moss it must be dry enough for them to dig a system of tunnels in which they live on a 4 hour cycle of feeding and then sleeping. Peat is not very nutritious and therefore doesn’t have many earthworms and moles need to eat 20 worms a day to survive so again you wouldn’t think that moles would venture onto bogs. But I think the clue is that the mole hills are next to the path. Minerals leaching out of the stone path make the soil there better for worms and so the moles follow.
Birch trees are often ignored as some people think they are weeds. But they are definitely worth a closer look. They have a delicate outline that stands out at this time of year against a darkening sky. The bark is one of the most beautiful of trees. The wood is lovely to carve and also makes great firewood. Look again and enjoy.
There have been loads of geese in the fields around the moss. If you are able it is worth watching them for 5 minutes with some binoculars. You will see their behavior constantly change depending on what is happening around them. All the heads are up if something has been seen, flight is being thought of. As they relax the heads go down to feed but there are always a few on look-out. Most of the geese are pink-footed geese but it is always worth a look through the whole flock as there are often hangers-on. The bottom picture shows that there were a few Canada geese in amongst the pinkies and also 1 Greylag – a big grey goose with a beak like a carrot.
As ever Ben Lomond, our very own Mount Fuji, looms in the distance, a fine covering of snow mantling her mighty shoulders. Not a bad backdrop.