BoG blog

Capercaillie Signs come in

The heart of Deshar Wood

On the 16th August I unscrewed and collected all the Capercaillie “please stay on paths and keep your dog on a short lead” signs. They will be put back up on the 1st April 2013 in order to remind all users of the Capercaillie starting to Lek and nesting on the ground. The main signs which show the sensitive areas remain up at present.

Ranger Scott Henderson removing Caper Signs
Cotton Grass

There are only a couple weeks to go before the Guided Walks will be finished. If you do manage to make it you are sure to be welcomed and maybe lucky enough to see what we’ve been seeing in your woods, like these wild flowers…

Harebell a bellflower family
Bog Asphodel

I have had the luck to find the “Narrow-headed Ant” and its nest which is smaller than the larger Wood Ants nest and also is made more with types of grasses rather than pine needles.

Narrow headed Wood Ant Nest

Grasshoppers are heard but rarely seen as they are quick at jumping using their large rear legs which they use to make the noise you hear.

The Common Green Grasshopper

There has been a lot of spider activity recently,the webs can be seen in the heather and between trees.One of the familys is the Orb Web spiders. The common Garden spider or “cross spider” is variable in colour,in Deshar Woods they seem to be mostly black. It is a very common spider which scares easily,us not them! The other Orb spider I’ve spotted was this beautiful Nursery Web Spider which would not give up defending its nursery of spiderlings as I took photos.

The “Cross” Spider
Nursery Web Spider guarding her babies within nest

I have also seen this Bracket Fungus growing on Scots Pine which I believe is Dyers Mazegill but could easily be another Mazegill species.

Dyers Mazegill on Scots Pine

Flying Ants and Deer Truffles

Male Wood Ants on Blaeberry above Nest

Its the time of year that male wood ants are preparing for their nuptial flight to mate with the queens.Usually we see these sexual ants on warm and humid days which is the climatic trigger for these giant ants to swarm. Many die as a result of birds and mammals but the ones who succeed start new colonies which are often linked to the mother colony by paths. Formica species(wood ants)are common through our Pinewoods and their presence is a good sign. They help guard the trees from pests such as aphids,therefore its important that these intricate nests are not disturbed as this can destroy the solid waterproof build.

Ant hill roof structure with winged ready to flight

About 80% of an ant is Formic acid. They can squirt this acid from their abdomen in defence. Some birds, like the Capercaillie and the Crow, will bath on an ant hill to “acid wash” themselves to rid their bird mites etc.

I came across the usual deer scrape to find what I first thought to be Tubers in amongst the peat.

After researching I have identified them as False Truffles or Elaphomyces Granulatus! which are in fact fungi.

Elaphomyces Granulatus are also known as Deer Truffles because its a favourite food of the Roe Deer, Elaphos is greek for deer.

This next photo is a spiders cocoon shaped like an upside down wine glass. Its attached to Ling Heather and is quite small but perfectly made. I believe its a spider known as Agroeca Brunnea which is a type of Orb spider which is pretty common in northern Europe. Its also known as the Spiny legged Sac Spider which is reddish brown and difficult to see, if I take a photo I’ll post it or maybe even film it.

Deer Truffles,favourite food for Roe Deer

A Roe Deer “scrape”
Spider Cocoon

First Blog from New Woodland Ranger

I hope you enjoy my first Blog as the Woodland Ranger for Boat of Garten as much as I’ve been enjoying your beautiful woodlands. I shall be posting once a week over the summer months with updates and great photos.

Like this one of Loch Vaa also known in gaelic as Loch a Bhtha which means” loch of the drowning”.

Loch Vaa

The heat that day brought out insects like these Large Red Damselflies which were busy “looping” or mating taking advantage of the short time they are above water.

“Looping” Large Red Damselflies

On the same warm day I found a moth called “The Miller” on a bracken stem drying itself after emerging from its chrysalis. These moths are common in birch woodlands but are well camouflaged against the silver birch bark.

“The Miller” Moth

I knew that a Caper hen was sitting on eggs when I found the “clocker” droppings, they are fatter and larger than normal Caper droppings due to “not going for a long time”! Confirmation on the 14th June of 4 healthy caper chicks already flying and about the size of a blackbird, this is great news. Its also an indication that the current “disturbance factors’ have been reasonbly low in the sensitive woodland areas.Keeping dogs under close control (on a lead) have no doubt contributed to this early success.

Jays have been sighted in the Pine woodlands , a shy member of the crow family this bird is colourful and difficult to observe.


There is an abundance of wild flowers, this week I’ll introduce to you to the ones that are in flower and can easily be seen, the Chickwood Wintergreen,Dog Violet,Cowberry and the Bugle.

Chickwood Wintergreen
Dog Violet

I’ve also written an article in the latest BoG Standard.

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