in my mind I heard the wisdom of the master….
“Every leaf seems to speak” – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938). This last couple of weeks I’ve made visits to my special spots on Loch Lomondside (selected for my John Muir Award focusing on the seasons) and found myself again greeting familiar plants; none has answered back, so John Muir probably didn’t mean this literally! But the leaves do speak in their own way. They attest to changes in the amount of daylight they receive and to the changes taking place inside maturing plants as they prepare to set seed, and changes inside trees as they respond to a drop in green surface area from which to synthesise food, that reduction caused by caterpillar damage. At least that’s how it seems to me… it appears that the oaks have experienced Lammas growth. It’s quite exciting to see this after spotting the numbers of busy caterpillars in early June. I don’t know what the science says to that, though. These photos were taken on 21st July.
Spring has definitely given way to something else, but July has been a little disappointing as a summer month! It’s made me wonder what lies ahead in August. The beautiful woodland along the West Highland Way between Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay is brilliant green with yellow patches – so many of the flowers I’ve seen in bloom are yellow – look how they shine for you. There’s still the carpet of low growing Common Cow-wheat, and now there’s Honeysuckle and Nipplewort and Slender St John’s-wort and Creeping Yellow-cress.
The small band of wildflowers that I recognise is growing by means of trying to learn new ones while retaining a handle on the ones I think I learned previously! Using iSpot has been a great help, as people consider your identifications, offering agreement or not. Some contributors remind me of important distinguishing features! I know, though, that I can be a bit blinkered continuing to be convinced of an ID even when evidence against it is mounting…. and keying out each one is challenging as I don’t always have the vocabulary for that. Wildflowers and how they change over the weeks has been one of the revelations so far of my JMA efforts, it’s such rich habitat around the trees of the oak woodland. I hope these IDs are correct – time will tell. I have no regrets about the focus being a relatively short stretch/small area along the WHW – getting to know it better is brilliant.
My photo points continue to provide amusement for passers-by and some frustration for me! July has been green, green, green. I remember so vividly being delighted by the spring signs here on 16th April: but each individual plant had grown and greened up hugely by 15th July! And look, two sunny days, though not in a row, of course.
The little island keeps changing too, not least because of the way the water level varies. Vegetation change is prominent when you compare these images from 20th May and 15th July.
I’m delighted to have enough photos of my chosen points to see real differences across the growing season so far.
I took a walk with a friend up the track at Cashel one afternoon. It always surprises me that it is so calm and quiet up there, we talked for a while about what we saw and what was growing. The mountain bog environment is represented by cotton grass, bog moss, bog myrtle and bog asphodel, to name some of the easy ones to see. How close to my Balmaha to Milarrochy Bay area this is, yet it’s such a different habitat. Both are important though, figuring in plans to protect and retain their biodiversity.
On one of my visits round my photo points, I took along the little video lapse camera (on a stick) and had great fun taking short movies under water in the loch – the waterproof case worked well. I want to use to show some features of the woodland, to show a walk along the WHW path. I tried that but found the position of the stick wasn’t quite right that time! The search for the best method of showing little videos on this blog – eight shots of a photo point, say, stitched together – continues and I think I’m getting somewhere, so more on that soon.
Reading recently has taken in Biodiversity Action Plans – BAPs: the international and European agreements that fostered these plans and the identification of priority species, and the steps local authorities have taken to develop and implement their plans. My John Muir Award area is part of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and the NP BAP for the current period is called Wild Park 2020 – see http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/wildpark/. More on that later.