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.
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
This follows on immediately from my previous blog, about my visit to see the forest of Araucaria trees (Araucaria araucana) at the Nasampulli Reserve in Chile, during the southern autumn in April this year. In the afternoon of my fourth day there, the snow had stopped (or so it appeared at least), and Esteban Arias (the researcher and park ranger based at the reserve) and I decided to go for a longer walk. This was along an old logging track, and it was easier going on that because it was more open, although the snow was still knee-deep in most places. As we walked I couldn’t stop wondering at how remarkable it was that just 24 hours previously, this entire area had still been in the middle of the rainstorm, but now it was a white wonderland. [Read more…] about Wild weather in the Araucaria forest of Chile, part 2
One of the places I’ve been keen to visit during my trips to the Araucaria forests of Chile in the past three years is the Nasampulli Reserve. It’s an area of 1,200 hectares that is owned and managed by the UK-based conservation charity Rainforest Concern, in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and Chilean scientists. Located on the site of a former logging concession, it contains undisturbed primary forest of Araucaria araucana, as well as previously logged areas that are in the process of recovery and restoration. [Read more…] about Wild weather in the Araucaria forest of Chile, part 1
When I went out to Strathfarrar on 27th August it had been about 10 months since my last visit to the glen. Such a long gap between trips to this beautiful area of old Caledonian Forest is quite unusual for me, but that’s because I’ve been concentrating my photographic trips recently on Glen Affric. I’ve also been to Chile a couple of times in the intervening period, so the months had slipped by and I was quite overdue for a return to what is one of my favourite places in the Highlands. It was therefore with considerable anticipation of having an interesting day that I headed there on one of the last days of August, hoping to catch the end of summer in the glen. [Read more…] about Autumn approaches in Strathfarrar