A new garden visitor

Yesterday morning I spied this pine marten (Martes martes) in our garden.

S/he enjoyed a snack of peanuts that were lying on the ground, from where I’d swept them from the squirrel nut box when I cleaned it out yesterday.

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Early summer in the Caledonian Pinewoods

Abhain Ruigh-eunachan burn, Glenmore
The typical riparian scene in the ancient Caledonian Pinewoods is a mixture of pine, silver birch, downy birch. alder and goat willow.

I’m revisiting the Scots Pine trees I mentioned ten days ago, to show the flowers again. A friend mentioned noticing the red blooms on the trees. These two pictures show how the male flowers are initially covered in red scales which protects the pollen. The red scales are now beginning to fall off and the yellow pollen can clearly be seen.
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Spring in the Caledonian Pinewoods

The burn is unusually low after weeks of dry weather

I have started back at my summer seasonal post as Forest Ranger at Glenmore, near Loch Morlich, This is a wonderful place to work as I enjoy lovely walks through the Caledonian Pinewoods every weekend and share the wildlife with the visitors.

Following the past two weeks of warm, sunny days, the buds on the trees were bursting and the early spring flowers blooming.
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Walking (and surviving) at Glenmore

I realise I am very fortunate to work in one of the loveliest spots in Scotland at Glenmore, at the foot of the Cairngorms mountains and in the heart of the Caledonian Pinewoods. This weekend I had a fantastic time working with a great bunch of people. I organised a Woodland Survival ‘themed’ weekend, where the customers participated in about 16 hours of activities relating to navigation, survival and bushcraft. We practised basic navigation using a map and compass; built survival shelters; found and purified water; made cord from roots and nettles; and tried lighting fires with a bow drill.

While out in the woods close to the camp site we were lucky enough to spot this wee fellow in the trees. This is not a rare occurrence as I’m fortunate to see red squirrels each day at Glenmore.

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We also watched two roe deer grazing about 100 metres away from us on Saturday evening while out practising our map and compass skills.
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A little history and natural history of Sandwood Bay

The Sandwood Estate is now owned by the John Muir Trust and parts of it have official conservation designations; there are two sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and a 444 ha Special Area of Conservation which includes Sandwood Bay.

Sandwood Estate

The geology around Sandwood is fascinating. According to the JMT:

“the rocks of Sandwood are mainly Torridonian gritstone, sandstone and conglomerate, with outcrops of Lewisian gneiss. Sandwood Loch is at the junction between the two rock types. Lewisian gneiss is multicoloured, with stripes, swirls and bubbles, metamorphic and one of the oldest rocks in the world. Torridonian sandstone is sandy, layered sedimentary rock, often blocky in shape, laid down about six hundred million years ago.”

I’m not that hot on geology, but I can recognise fascinating rocks. The patterns in the rocks on the crags to the north of the river were wonderful. There were sedimentary rocks lying on their side and twisted, bubbled rocks.
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Torridon scenery and wildlife

Beinn Eighe main ridge

I’d like to share a glimpse of the Highland scenery and wildlife around Loch Maree and Torridon, a favourite part of the country to me, through a BBC film. This film was shown on the BBC as part of the Natural World series and a short clip is now on YouTube.

The film is by wildlife filmaker Fergus Beeley.