Thursday 8 September 2011

Thursday 8th September

We have recently made improvements to one of our access points on the Glen Banvie trail. Where there used to be a boardwalk and steps over the deer fence (in the middle on the trail) we have now installed a gate to make access much easier, especially with bikes. On the way back from removing the boardwalk we spotted a black grouse standing on the moorland relaxing in the sun. It was a nice sight watching it in the middle of purple heather. 
New gate on the right
The Scottish thistles have begun to set seed now on the path to Loch Ordie with only a few flowering plants still about which are still a good source of food for insects, including this peacock butterfly. The thistle was taken on as the Scottish emblem during the reign of Alexander III because, as the legend goes, King Hakton of Norway ordered his army of men to invade Scotland, landing in Coast of Largs. They intended on taking the Scots by surprise by removing their shoes so they didn’t make a sound and creeping up on them during the night. Unfortunately one of the men stood on a thistle, yelped out and alerted the Scottish helmsmen of the invasion which led to the Scots winning the battle.
Peacock butterfly on a Scottish thistle
We have found yet another mink footprint but this time at Cally Loch so we are doing the best we can to try and trap it in an effort to protect and save our native water voles and stop the spread of American mink.

We recently had our advanced fungi day and saw over thirty species of fungi on a very small section of the red squirrel trail. There were loads of orange birch boletes and russulas but we also found a fly agaric and honey fungus, also called bootlace fungus. Honey fungus is a gardeners and foresters nightmare. There are seven different species in the UK and they are all parasitic, killing trees quickly by attacking tree roots and decaying dead wood. You may see honey coloured mushrooms on the tree or at its base for short periods in the year but it can also be distinguished by black coloured ‘bootlaces’ which are found growing under the bark. Not all fungi are bad though and only a small number are actually parasitic. Many have a symbiotic relationship with their plant counterparts helping both parties to grow and survive and some fungi are very important for recycling dead material. It is a great time of year to go out and have a look at them so see how many species you can find. You will be surprised at how many you can get in a small area.
Fly Agaric
Honey Fungus
Honey Fungus on birch

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