Flanders Moss NNR
Jane Petrie, our blog editor and SNH Stirling Admin officer writes about trying out a new camera:
Some time back, the Reserve Manager, David Pickett suggested that Flanders was a good place to try out a new camera – so, enjoying some glorious sunshine on an otherwise cold day, that’s exactly what I set out to do, toting a newish camera, with a multitude of settings I haven’t ever quite got the hang of.
So, here are the results of an enthusiastic but cheerfully hapless photographer, trying to persuade my camera to focus on small but interesting bits of plant and animal life.
Here is some cotton grass – Eriophorum vaginatum – with its heads yellow with pollen. If you tap one of the heads with a finger a small cloud of yellow pollen drifts into the air. Later on, the familiar white ‘cotton’ seeds will form, transforming many’s a wet and soggy bit of bog or muir with their fluffy heads that so often appear to shimmer and dance in the breeze on a bright summer’s day. (See the blog posted recently by Dave Pickett for images of cotton grass seed heads).
A delightfully soggy and green mass of sphagnum moss, commonly known as peat moss. This plant is one of the ‘building blocks’ that makes up the raised bog, and is important as it acts like a sponge to help the bog hold on to water. However, this moss is not just a ‘pretty face’ – because of its absorbency and antiseptic properties, it was used historically for wound dressings. During World War I, school children and adults were encouraged to collect sphagnum moss which was dried, processed and then used to treat soldiers’ wounds, and it’s credited with saving the lives of thousands of soldiers. A tar extracted from the decaying moss is antiseptic and is seen as a valuable external application in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, pruritus and many other forms of skin diseases. It’s also held to be good for calming down the irritation from insect bites and can also serve as a preventative to being bitten, although the jury is still out whether it works on Scotland’s summer time plagues of midgies and clegs (horseflies).
The thing I noticed about fiddling with camera zoom settings, is that it really makes one look in detail and appreciate the beauty and intricacies of the plants one is zooming in on.
And the water filled ditches and ponds are something akin to a rock-pool on the shoreline, in as much as they are just crying out to be gazed into (from the safe bounds of the boardwalk), to see what’s going on in their peaty depths…
Not just plants to marvel at, though – this was my first viewing of frog spawn this year. Flanders must be some sort of froggy paradise and masses of spawn could be seen in the deeper areas of water. In a few weeks’ time, the small ponds will be a-wiggle with tadpoles. There are quite a few white eggs in evidence – these are likely eggs that have been damaged by the recent hard frosts, and won’t develop.
Despite the chill wind, this wee lizard was out warming itself in the spring sunshine. The great thing with lizards is, that if not alarmed, they are quite tolerant of the paparazzi. This is a great boon to someone like me who ends up lying flat out on the boardwalk, practically nose to nose with the lizard, trying to get the blessed macro function on the camera to focus! Get too close for comfort though, and in the blink of an eye, the lizard will skip off. You can see that this little chap has regrown his tail no doubt after a close encounter with some passing carnivore.
And last but not least, all this lovely open space and big sky encouraged me to try out the composite image function!
A good day out!