The dictionary defines a tableau as “ a striking or artistic grouping” from the French tableau vivant (meaning literally, living picture). National Nature Reserves across Scotland have excitingly been asked to forage natural items to represent our reserves and various biomes as graceful Japanese bonsai exhibits across the negotiating tables at COP 26 in Glasgow.
These will be assembled by more skilled hands than ours within the Japanese philosophy of Ikebana dating back 550 years.
Our lichen drenched boughs and autumn turned leaves and berries will hopefully find new life and beauty when placed in their new environment.
This is some of what we have foraged from Muir of Dinnet. Nearly everything was gathered, not picked. A woodland tableau.
Top left the are some remnant bell heather blooms – becoming a vital final food source for our pollinators in the year.
Next a wind blown branch of English Oak, only now ripening into acorns that will attract Jays from far and wide.
At the level of a single jay, the dispersal of acorns may be fairly small and localised, but when amplified to a group of jays 65 strong, research has indicated that (over the course of four weeks) up to 500,000 acorns may be dispersed.
Emerging in autumn our rowan berries are only now being stripped away by hungry birds and helped by some continental arrivals such as blackbird and fieldfare.
I couldn’t resist adding a sloughed adder skin. After a month of not seeing any adders the Cairngorms National Park Rangers spotted a very pristine big female last weekend.
The feathers belong to a Greater Spotted woodpecker, a Mallard Duck and the secretive woodcock.
Fungi had to be included as the autumn season would be nothing without our weird and wonderful wild mushrooms. This webcap mushroom (possibly saffron webcap) just happened to be one I found perfectly intact on the path. The saffron webcap was used as a source of dye for colouring fabrics.
This bracket fungus – a wood decayer – from the viewpoint of a forest manager, could be seen in terms of financial losses resulting from deteriorating timber value.
In our reserve these fungi create a unique microhabitat of decaying wood play a major role in promoting the biodiversity of many groups of organisms, such as woodpeckers, bats, small mammals and invertebrates.
The tightly closed pine cones and whorl of Scots Pine needles represents our Scots Pine forest. Scots pine almost wholly dominates many of our pinewoods in the cold, dry east. Though not very diverse in their plant and animal life they do support some iconic species such as capercaillie and Britain’s only endemic species of bird, the Scottish crossbill. Elusive mammals such as Red Squirrel and Pinemarten are also found here.
Delicate tiny flora like this crowberry carpet the woodland floor.
Just to leave you with photos from early this morning. With this morning’s forecast set for glorious I took the opportunity to watch the sun rise over the reserve from the top of old Kinord before hanging out with Whooper swans on Loch Davan. If you have the chance- and there were a couple of walkers out -in terms of being there for when the wildlife wakes up I can’t recommend it enough.