Bloomin’ Heather

It always amazes me how you can go for a walk in Scotland and after half an hour you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. I went out walking on Saturday to try and tick off a few more Munros and thankfully although it was very windy, the rain held off. As soon as I stepped foot out of the car I noticed all the heather. Obviously, it is always there, but it really comes into its own at this time of year. The dainty heather flowers have the magical ability to turn the hills of Scotland purple. Even without the sun shining, this scrubby little plant really brightened up the view.

Heather (c) Laura Preston

Heather (c) Laura Preston

Although a nightmare to walk through; it proves to have many medicinal properties and is full of nutrients and anti-oxidants. It contains the anti-inflammatory, quercitin, which can be used in treating inflammation of the gut, rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer. Heather can also be used in herbal tea, which can induce sleepiness and calm the nerves. The flowers and shoots used to be dried and put in bedding for the same effect.

The latin for heather is Calluna vulgaris, vulgaris means common and calluna comes from the Greek, to sweep clean. Traditionally people would have made a type of broom known as a besom with the stems of the heather plant. Heather isn’t only useful to people, it is also the food plant for the aptly named heather beetle and the small emperor moth.

It is not necessary to head to the highlands for the scent of this beautiful flower, we have it here at the Falls of Clyde and it can be found in the surrounding upland areas.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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3rd Victorian Grand Tour Date Added!

If you have not made it down for a visit to the reserve yet or are looking for an outdoor activity to fill a Saturday afternoon before the end summer finally makes way for autumn, then we have another perfect event lined up for the end of this month!

Enjoy an afternoon partaking in a guided walk through the reserve with our Victorian guide Lady Geraldine Lockhart-Ross © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Enjoy an afternoon partaking in a guided walk through the reserve with our Victorian guide Lady Geraldine Lockhart-Ross © Scottish Wildlife Trust

As our last two Victorian guided walks have proven to be very successful we are delighted to announce that we have added a new event for the end of this month. This guided walk will take place on Saturday 30th of August with Lady Geraldine Lockhart-Ross returning to take you round the features and sights of the reserve and recalling the history of the woodlands as a major attraction for those completing the grand tour of Britain.

This guided walk will begin at 2pm from our visitor centre in New Lanark and take around two hours to complete the tour of the reserve’s features from the Victorian era and older! as well as soaking in the atmosphere of the reserve’s wildlife and natural beauty.

This is a free event suitable for adults and children aqged 8 and up, but booking is essential. For more information or to book places on the event please call our Falls of Clyde office on 01555 665 262.

Hope to see you there!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Where would you hibernate if you were a hedgehog?

At this time of year it seems lots of people are thinking about Christmas already. One of my volunteers recently informed me that Selfridges now stock 450 different types of Christmas tree! My mind however, is not on Christmas but on hedgehogs. Hedgehogs hibernate usually around November time. This gives me about 12 weeks to make sure that my garden is a safe hibernation haven for any hedgehogs that might pass through.

Hedgehog (c) Mark Fletcher

Hedgehog (c) Mark Fletcher

A few weeks ago whilst weeding my veg bed in the glorious sunshine, I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. I assumed it was my cat but I saw him dozing in the sunshine on my patio table. Beneath him however was a rather energetic little hedgehog scurrying underneath my shed.

I haven’t seen the hedgehog since but considering they’re usually nocturnal, that doesn’t really surprise me. What did surprise me was seeing one at all. Where I live isn’t the most wildlife abundant place and my garden is all raised beds but under my shed would be a lovely place to live (if you’re a hedgehog!).

If you don’t have a suitable hibernation place for a passing hog then I would encourage you to make one. If you do a web search for ‘BBC Breathing Places hedgehog house’, it will take you to an excellent page with lots of information, at the bottom there is a link to instructions on exactly what to do. In simple terms all you need is an upturned small wooden crate with an entrance in once side and covered in stones, earth and rocks. It is important to weight it down well to stop a fox or badger being able to easily get inside for a hedgehog dinner.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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Final 2014 Badger Watches

As we draw closer towards the end of the summer season and the days start getting a little bit shorter we will be rounding up our summer wildlife watching events. Therefore this month sees our last badger watches of the year taking place.

With the long summer days and good weather it has proven to be perfect for wildlife watching. We have been lucky to have some fantastic views of the adult badgers and their cubs this year as well as other species around the sett including roe deer, buzzards, hares and even a fox!

This year we have managed to see both adults  and cubs at the sett © Elliot Smith / ElliottNeep.com

This year we have managed to see both adults and cubs at the sett © Elliot Smith / ElliottNeep.com

The final family badger watch will take place on Saturday 23rd of August while the last normal badger watch is scheduled for the evening of Thursday 28th of August. We still have places available on both these events so get in touch now to make sure you get your places.

To book places on these events or for more information please call our Falls of Clyde office on 01555 665 262.

Hope to see you on an event soon!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Moth myths

Moths are hugely underrated insects that are seen as far inferior to their beautiful, magical, day flying cousins, the butterflies. Today I’d like to dispel a couple of myths that have been around for far too long.

Cinnabar Moth (c) nutmeg66

Cinnabar Moth (c) nutmeg66

There are around currently around 2,500 species of moth found in the UK and only 59 species of butterfly. Of these 2,500 species of moth, very few like to eat your clothes. They are aptly named clothes moths and they are rather snobbish, fussy creatures and only eat fibres derived from animal sources such as wool. They also prefer dirty clothes found in dark, undisturbed places. If that doesn’t encourage you to put a wash on I don’t know what will!

Sadly these poor guys are often persecuted much more than they should be and are wrongly blamed for damage to clothes that in fact was caused by the common carpet beetle larvae. You may also find holes in your clothes, which are just down to natural wear and tear, and sometimes your washing machine can cause damage as well.

Clothes moths are some of the ‘little brown jobs’ of the moth world however there are some incredibly beautiful moths out there. One of my favourites is the cinnabar moth that feeds on ragwort and can be found across the UK. The cinnabar moth is not only beautiful but it also flies during the day. There are quite a few day flying moths and it is not just the day flying ones that are beautiful, there are many that only fly at night that you may never see that are just as amazing to look at as some butterflies. The cinnabar caterpillar is also pretty incredible to look at; it has a black and yellow striped body.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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