There was a sunny evening in early June – just as well, since my plans for the day were scuppered by a car problem. I had intended to meet friend S in the morning for a visit to my lovely woodland, my special oak tree (I’m following it for the brilliant Track a Tree project) and my photo sites. The morning light was one of the things I wanted to catch – but that was not to be! We all finally got together for a long walk around my John Muir Award area between Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay in the evening. For the Award, you have to discover, explore, conserve and share your own little bit of wildness – see my plan for my study of seasons and seasonal change.
I must have looked quite at home in the lay-by, waiting for the AA, in my hi-viz vest and with binos and camera. I watched a buzzard close by, some hunting wagtails and some geese. I learned what I could about what was around me! It was a nice morning, no rain, so that helped. Here are three photos:
The hawthorn at the end of the lay-by was in gorgeous bloom, the lovely pink colour gives the whole bush a vanilla hue, different from the creamy white at the start of blossoming. The roadside plant with little white flowers is garlic mustard. The flies were spectacular, there were lots of them and they favoured the sunny side of the lay-by tree. I discussed them later with S, they weren’t known to him at that stage. I’ll put a photo on iSpot for help.
The flies are Rhagio scolopaceus, downlooker snipe-fly, thanks for help, iSpotter.
Seasonal change is moving along nicely – and it was still not raining. Wild garlic now had its lovely dome of stars, a change from the folded flower of four weeks ago (photos early May and early June on Inchcailloch). The fragrance seems to be brought out more by the rain.
Reaching the woodland by Loch Lomond, the globeflowers by the shore close to the West Highland Way were still a sight to behold.
The OS maps show a dun or fort (an antiquity) in the woodland. There is information about it at The online catalogue to Scotland’s archaeology, buildings, industrial and maritime heritage. The site defines a dun as “A building or settlement enclosure with a thick drystone wall, generally circular or oval in plan, usually sited in an elevated position.” While making our rounds we went to see the remains and found them quite overgrown -and found litter too.
Exploring the woodland round ‘my’ oak tree, it was clear that caterpillars were at work. S advised they were of various types including winter moth, november moth and feathered thorn. The woodland had turned into ‘looper’ central! And the oak leaves were suffering.
The light coloured caterpillar, the feathered thorn, is pretty well disguised especially when it’s on bark and twigs. My Track a Tree oak tree looked much like last time, about 2 weeks before – but maybe less luxuriant and full? If that was actually the case then the caterpillars were to blame; time will tell if the oaks hereabouts have a later burst of growth, the Lammas growth.
The woodland still looks beautiful, though.
I took photos at my photo points, and it was a shame to have missed the light of earlier in the day, not least because photos into the sun in the west are painful on the eyes! But who’s complaining this year about the sun??!!
This is the little promontory by the WHW on 3rd April and 8th June. I’ve got 6 views over that period of each of my points, and I suppose the challenge is to keep up the record keeping! (Also to improve the fixing of my so-called fixed points!) I plan to make more/better movies and to integrate more sound recordings: I have woodland birdsong recorded in the area round the tree, so I hope that gives some atmosphere! It’s all quite a learning curve.
The changes in the wildflowers are really interesting: with each visit the balance of the different species changes. My strategy with wildflowers is to try to keep the knowledge of the ones I know and to add a few more at a time (while still checking back to the known ones!). I may not know very many, but my list is growing all the time. This visit, a notable change was the red campion which was out in force now. Wood avens (below right) had appeared, while water avens (below left, earlier photo) was still out. An intermediate hybrid of the two was seen as well, it’s in the bottom photo.
The bluebells were still blooming and lighting up the woodland, this one was positively shining. Carpets of yellow cow wheat were out and S swept them for the pug moth that uses the plant. I think the cow wheat is common as against small, based on the ‘eyelashes’ of the calyx where it meets the flower.
Catching up on my John Muir-related reading: the little book from the JMT 1992 conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig remains to be finished. Looking up the flowers and trying to ID them in photos takes up quite a bit of time! Planning a food packaging audit as well….