These blogs feature my writing and photographs from my experiences out in the Caledonian Forest and other natural ecosystems. Please subscribe to receive automatic notifications when new blog posts are added.
After my two visits to the birch trees with an abundance of shieldbugs on them that I wrote about in Part 1 of this blog I went across to the west coast of Scotland for a few days, so it was over a week later before I returned to have another look for them. I didn’t know whether they would still be there, or if they would have all metamorphosed into adults and dispersed already, so I approached the trees without any great expectations of what I would find.[Read more…] about A shieldbug extravaganza, part 2
On 1st August 2020 I was making my monthly round of the Findhorn Hinterland area to check the series of 6 pitfall traps we’ve installed for an ongoing survey of spiders there. To reach the first couple of trap sites I had to pass a prominent cluster of three large, multi-trunked silver birch trees (Betula pendula) that have grown closely together, and I often stop to have a look at them, to see if there is anything of interest on their leaves.[Read more…] about A shieldbug extravaganza, part 1
For just over two years now I’ve been a trustee of the Findhorn Hinterland Trust, a local charity that manages about 35 hectares of land surrounding the Findhorn Community, where I live. The site includes sand dunes and dune heath rich in lichens, dune scrub consisting mostly of gorse, species-rich grassland and an old pine plantation that is gradually being restored to native woodland.[Read more…] about Life on a spear thistle
With the travel restrictions that have been imposed as part of the COVID-19 response, it’s been over four months since I was able to get out to any of my favourite places in the Caledonian Forest, such as Glen Affric. By 10th July, when those limitations were relaxed in Scotland, I was keen to reconnect with the forest and its seasonal phenomena. Top of my list was the opportunity to see twinflower (Linnea borealis), one of the rare plants in the Caledonian Forest, in blossom.[Read more…] about A twinflower day
This blog follows on from Part 1 and Part 2 in this series with the same name, covering some of the species and ecological relationships I observed in Glen Affric during my visits there in 2018. It picks up the story in the middle of August, when the forest was full of a wide diversity of insects, many of them feeding on the flowering plants that flourish in the later stages of summer.
The Findhorn Foundation is hosting a major international conference on the theme of ‘Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth‘ from April 20-26 2019, and it promises to be an important and stimulating event. I’ll be participating fully in the conference, and last year I wrote a blog, ‘Canaries of the climate change coal mine‘ as part of the preparations for it. Now, with the conference less than two months away, here are my thoughts on its theme, and what the event may be able to achieve. [Read more…] about Climate Change and Consciousness
This blog features some more of the remarkable diversity of species that I came across during my regular trips to Glen Affric in 2018, picking up from Part 1, which concluded with my visit there on the summer solstice in late June. My next trip to the glen was on 5th July, and I made four others that month as well, because summer is the time of maximum biological activity, and there are more species to be seen then than in any other season of the year. [Read more…] about Unseen biodiversity of Glen Affric, Part 2
This has been an unusually mild winter in the Highlands of Scotland so far, with very little snow having fallen and temperatures consistently being well above zero (and often as high as 10 degrees C) on most days. There’s also been surprisingly little rain, and although the hours of daylight are very short, it feels as though winter hasn’t really arrived yet. Perhaps this will be a repeat of the last two or three years, when the coldest weather and most snow has been in March or even April, rather than the more usual months of January and February. [Read more…] about A celebration of frost
This year I’ve been making regular trips out to Glen Affric, usually once a week, to photograph the Caledonian Forest and its associated biological diversity. Although I’ve been visiting the glen since 1979, and have been going there regularly ever since, especially after Trees for Life began practical work there in 1989, I’ve stepped up the frequency of my visits this year. I’ve done this as I wanted to develop a better feel for the changes that occur throughout the seasons and to get to know in more depth at least some of the cycles of Nature that occur in the glen. [Read more…] about Unseen biodiversity of Glen Affric, part 1
For some years I’ve been keen to visit Berriedale Wood on the island of Hoy, one of the Orkney Islands to the north of the Scottish mainland. It’s the most northerly native woodland in the UK, and is therefore of considerable ecological interest, although similar woods flourish in the southwest of Norway at comparable latitudes, and indeed much further north as well. I’d made an attempt to see Berriedale when I was last in Orkney, about 9 years ago, but there had been no space on the ferry the day had I hoped to go, so I never reached it then. [Read more…] about A day in Scotland’s most northerly native wood