Wednesday 25 May 2016

Talla and Gameshope Survey Day

Many thanks to all those who came along to help record the species in the Gameshope valley on the 8th May.

The climate is certainly very changeable in those hills,  with the high winds of the night before, transforming into a hot sunny day.  This was good news for our enjoyment on the day but did mean the moth traps put out over night were mostly empty.

We also put out a bat detector recording box borrowed from the Southern Scotland Bat Survey scheme. We're awaiting results and will be surprised if we have any bats recordings from that night! We plan to have another go recording bats in August. Its a brilliant project and if you'd like get involved in surveying, more information can be found here

There was a big contingent of bryologists, who taking advantage of the good weather headed right up to Stirk Craig. They made over 90 records, one example being Alpine Water Moss  (Fontinalis squamosa), only the second record in vice county 78, the other being recorded last year lower down the valley. Excitingly Liz Kungu just confirmed the identity of a rare species of Sphagnum called Sphagnum platyphyllum - which is a new record for the Scottish Borders.  

Whilst out a variety of plants were noted, an interesting example being cloud berry Rubus chamaemorus  which grows in acidic soil on high boggy ground. Later in the year this bears an orange rather unusually flavoured and delicious berry! In Sweden this is a much loved fruit however in Scotland it is far too uncommon to harvest. 

  A carrion beetle was spotted, (Nicrophorus vespillioides) feeding on a dead field vole!

File:Nicrophorus vespillioides - Schwarzhörniger Totengräber (9727222089).jpg
this image is from wiki commons (Guido Bohne) included for interest !

Some fragments of wood were also discovered by Ron Mcbeath,  exposed in some peat where they had been buried at about 1m below the surface, possibly Birch and Juniper! 

 A range of birds  including Common sandpiper, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Mallard, Meadow Pippet, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Carrion crow, Red grouse, Sky lark and Swallow were also seen/heard whilst folk were out and about.  The Bilberry Bumblebee also made an appearance lower down the valley.

Kick sampling in the river yielded a variety of Mayflies, Stoneflies and Cased Caddisfly larvae, whilst the loch at the top had Sticklebacks in it.

Luna helping to fish!

We're now building up quite a comprehensive data set particularly of the vascular plants and bryophytes, We could do with some more attention on the invertebrate world, so please do get in touch if you'd like to help with the recording effort.

Thanks again to all involved.

Ali Murfitt

Site and Community Officer. 

Leave No Trace

Its a wonderful experience having a fire in the woods, gathering some wild food and cooking on an open flame...but how to do it safely and without leaving a negative mark on the land?

Last session we explored these ideas with the Junior Rangers. Here's some of what we looked at:

Leave no trace fires.
 Having a fire off the ground has many advantages, including improved oxygen flow to your fire, no scorch marks and reduced risk of setting fire to the ground. This is really something to think when deciding if it is o.k to have a fire outdoors. Even if it is wet on the surface, fires can burn into the ground and were there is peat, ignite an underground fire which could smoulder for years. ..definitely one to be aware of!

Once you've chosen a safe and appropriate site, the easiest way to have a fire off the ground is to bring something with you...and an old satellite dish works a treat!!  Just need to whittle a few legs first!

More information about 'leave no trace' here

At this time of year, there is an abundance of wild food around us, much of it very common, easy to identify and tasty too! 
 A few things to thing about when foraging

  •  Is it safe to eat? Good identification is key here. If in doubt leave it out!
  • Is it common or rare? There is a lot of ethics involved in foraging. Here is a link to the Scottish Wild Mushroom code  
  • Is the clean and not polluted? Picking watercress in a field with sheep is not a good idea (liver fluke) nor is it wise to pick on popular dog walking routes, the sides of busy roads or from historically contaminated sites! 
We made a tasty common sorrel and nettle soup (well some of us thought it was tasty!) 

Foraging for Common Sorrel
Vanessa watching over the soup!

Serving up!

Its wonderful the ideas that emerge when sat round a camp fire.  We introduced the concept of the 'talking stick' and the Junior Rangers decided they'd like to carve it each month with a design which represents what they did.

This month it was carved with the image of a camp fire.

Talking Stick enthusiasm!

Looking forward to next month


Site and Community Officer