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.
This blog is the third in a series, and follows on from Part 1, in which I wrote about the role of fungi in helping to break down dead wood, and Part 2, which focussed on slime moulds. Here I’ll describe some of the invertebrates associated with dead wood, including springtails and mites.
A variety of small invertebrates can usually be found by close examination of dead wood, and amongst the most common of these are springtails. Known in scientific terms as Collembola, they are hexapods (ie creatures with six legs), but are not insects – they are differentiated from that group by having internal mouthparts (whereas insects have external mouthparts).[Read more…] about The abundant life of dead wood, part 3
In the first part of this blog I focussed mainly on the role of fungi in the decomposition of dead wood and referred only briefly in passing to some of the other organisms that thrive in the resource and habitat that is created when a tree dies and its trunk falls to the ground. Here I’ll focus on slime moulds, and in part 3 of the blog I’ll feature some of the other life forms that can readily be seen by looking closely at dead wood, with examples primarily from the Findhorn Hinterland area.[Read more…] about The abundant life of dead wood, part 2
Over the winter of 2021-2022 Scotland has been hit by a number of named storms, with Storm Arwen in particular causing considerable damage in the coastal area of Moray near Findhorn. On the night of 26th November 2021 Arwen blew down more than 100 trees in the small area of pine woodland on the land surrounding the Findhorn Community that is managed by the Findhorn Hinterland Trust (FHT).[Read more…] about The abundant life of dead wood, part 1
When I visited the RSPB’s Troup Head Reserve in the middle of July in 2021, I was so impressed by the spectacle of mainland Scotland’s largest colony of gannets (Morus bassanus) that I returned for another visit with my wife a couple of weeks later, on 1st August. In the course of those two trips I was able to see and document a lot of the behaviour of the birds, as well as observing some of the other species that nest on the cliffs there, resulting in this blog extending to a second part.[Read more…] about Gannets galore, part 2
One of the highlights for me during the past year was the two visits I made in the summer to the RSPB’s Troup Head Reserve. Situated on the Aberdeenshire coast just east of Banff and about 60 miles from where I live at Findhorn, it is the site of mainland Scotland’s largest colony of gannets. Despite this relative proximity I’d not been there before so when a friend suggested a visit in the middle of July I was very happy to take him up on the invitation.[Read more…] about Gannets galore, part 1
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.