Thursday, 15 December 2011

Walking the dug in Highland Perthshire


The Tay today

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas cards... which one?

Xmas card time. Here are a couple of options. This first one, and the third one by North-east manager Carol Robertson. The trees here are actually beech, so, strictly speaking, not native.

Another one...parkland trees at Drummond Estate

Another one...ivy on birch tree

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Sun over the flooded Tay

Walking the dug....

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The importance of leaf litter

At this time of year the principle source of energy in many upland burns comes from leaves washed into the burn.

These aspen leaves will be processed in stages by a series of micro-organisms such as fungi & bacteria, followed by invertebrates such as the larvae of stoneflies & caddisflies which in turn
are preyed upon by larger animals including fish.

The rate of breakdown varies with different tree species with the leaves of some tree species such as bird cherry broken down within a few weeks whereas the leaves of other species such as oak may take several months to decay.

Most semi-natural woodlands produce a diverse leaf-litter and will therefore provide a continuous food supply throughout the autumn and winter to sustain a rich and productive aquatic ecosystem.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Tree planting at Star of Markinch Resevoir in Fife

Scottish Native Woods donated some aspen trees to this local community effort in Fife. Photos courtesy of Sue Band. Very well done Sue.

Deer protection

The resevoir at Star of Markinch

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Glen Quoich at Mar Lodge

The winter sun.....

Big pines

Above the pinewoods

Four trees

Glen Quoich

Friday, 18 November 2011

Community Woodlands Conference

CWA organised another very successful conference at Boat of Garten last weekend. One of the site visits was to RSPB Abernethy, where delegates caught up with plans to naturalise areas of Scots pine plantation. The discussion was good, provoking some serious reflection among participants.

One of the themes we looked at was the creation of deadwood. The vast majority of the species which live in the Abernethy pinewoods depend on deadwood at some stage in their life. However Scottish pinewoods are short of deadwood. This picture includes one of the numerous wee patches of deadwood that are being created in this plantation.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

An autumn path

Autumn light in the beeches

Beech is not a native toScotland and grows on and out-competes many native trees, as here on the ancient woodland and SSSI site.

Mist through the birches

Ash leaves hanging down

Monday, 7 November 2011

Planning for Winter

Before the leaves are fully off the trees it is important to check your new trees planted last winter to assess the numbers which have not survived and require replanting this coming winter. The ideal is to undertaken this assessment after the first season or summer in growth although it can be completed up to 3 summers following planting. However the longer you leave this assessment the more difficult it is to replant due to the coarse ground vegetation which can develop.

Any dead trees must be marked with a dot of spray paint and the total numbers counted. Make sure you place your order with the tree nursery early in the season to ensure you get the pick of the planting stock for this season.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Boat house in the wood

An unusual feature of this wood is a boathouse. Admittedly it's actually on the woodland edge, but it shows what can turn up when you're looking at woodland management. There's a proposal to turn this structure into a wee base and bird hide for the local Primary School to use.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ghoulish Trees

With Halloween approaching I thought I would share with you a few unusual trees which, if you look hard enough, have a ghoulish form. Not very sinister, infact they made me smile when I came across them in the woods!

My favourite of the year.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Boats, history and communities

The NWDG's woodland history conference this year will include a talk on the ways in which community groups relate to woodland history. One of the themes that I will explore will be the way in which groups such as Galgael have developed and used links with historical boat building.

This picture shows the work of another group, Big Green Tarbert. These Loch Fyne skiffs formed the backbone of the 19th century herring fishing fleet which made Tarbert prosperous. The one at the back, "Wee Dooker" was built by local children under the supervision of AGWA's Adam Way. Wee Dooker has a keel and ribs made from Argyll oak.

The conference is in Perth on the 10th November: more details at

Friday, 14 October 2011

Wood Ants

The nests of wood ants are characteristic of Caledonian Pinewoods. There are three species present in Scotland, all are recognised as of conservation importance with their own Species Action Plans as part of the UK Biodiversity process.

This impressive rounded mound of pine needles has been carefully constructed by the worker ants to maintain a specific temperature and humidity in the nest. The south side of the nest is less steep to maximise solar gain. Underground is a series of chambers where the eggs and pupae develop.

As I approached this nest, the tracks of the worker ants foraging in the surrounding trees for needles and invertebrates was very clear amongst the carpet of blaeberry.

Birch Regeneration

Here is an ex- conifer plantation that was felled 8 years ago and which has now sprung up to be a carpet of birch trees.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Getting scientific with hazelnuts

Here's some pictures of the school hazel project we have been working on with Atlantic Hazel Action Group member Sandy Coppins. The children are helping with a wee experiment to see if hazel nuts might have colonised Scotland after the last ice age by sea: floating across from Ireland. Having collected the nuts on a damp autumnal day, the children set about sorting their haul
Some of the nuts have been put in salt water to see if they will still germinate after immersion in salt water

Others were planted immediately as a control: that meant dirty hands for some of the helpers!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Questions, Questions

Coming across a couple of aspen seedlings in a gully in the Cairngorms poses a number of interesting questions. Located hundred of metres from any mature aspen how did these seedlings establish themselves here?

Aspen rarely produces seed in Scotland, spreading mainly by suckers from the tree roots. Looking around in the heather I found no evidence of stumps of older aspen trees which could have produced these as suckers. Perhaps any stumps have decayed but the roots remained, fed by small suckers hidden in the heather?

Or can we conclude that they have established from seed, blown on the wind over the heather moorland to germinate and establish in the damp mossy layer of this gully?

Scientific analysis of the genetic print of the seedlings and comparing it with genetic print of neighbouring aspen trees would help answer these questions.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Seal of approval

Autumn aspen on Loch Hourn

On Clunie Loch

Beaver chewed willows

This willow regrowth on the river Earn has arisen after trees had been felled by beavers. It is one year of growth. You can see the evidence of beaver chewing on the stumps to the right.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Autumn Gold

Why not invest some time in the coming weeks to get out and see the autumn golds?

The sunny late summer weather in the North East with the brilliant blue sky, provides a fantastic backdrop for the start of this striking autumn display.

These birch trees near Braemar are the first few trees to change. However it will not be long before the neighbouring woodlands join the colour festival. So don't leave it too long......