Muir of Dinnet NNR – Getting Wet!

It’s been a wet week. And not in a good way! Arrived back on Tuesday from a long weekend to find the loos swimming in (mostly) water….they’d blocked and backed up. Splish, splash I was making a dash….straight for the mop and to lock the doors. Bless them, the plumbers turned up the same day and we had the loos open by 7pm…but it took a very hot bath with added Olbs oil to get rid of the lingering aroma of septic tank!

The blocked pipe, dug up by the loos, but far enough back so’s you can’t see what it’s blocked with…

Away from the loos, the bell heather is well out now. The ling heather will be another 3-4 weeks but some patches of the woodland are looking lovely and purple.

The bell heather is coming out

It’s a great source of nectar for butterflies. The small pearl bordered fritillaries love it.

Small pearl- bordered fritillary feeding on bell heather

While the ringlets prefer grassy areas. When you walk through the grass, you often stir up ringlets, or maybe a chimneysweeper moth. These small black moths are really common here and do look like they’ve been dipped in soot.

Ringlet butterfly

The ringlet is a common brown butterfly found across the reserve

Chimney sweeper moth

Heather isn’t the only source of nectar for the insects. The fields near New Kinord are yellow with buttercups just now.

The field be New Kinord is yellow with buttercups

You often find goose feathers around the loch in June and July. The geese and ducks all moult out their feathers just now….and they shed all of their flight feathers at the same time. Some ducks and geese can’t fly for up to a fortnight until their flight feathers grow back. Not so very long ago, these feathers would all have been collected for making quill pens, or fletching arrows – but you need the feathers from the same wing (either left or right, ideally left) to make your arrow fly straight. Nowadays, no-one really uses the feathers- though I do know of one Orcadian jeweller  who collects goose feathers there and uses them to place glass beads on metal for enamelling.

The greylags are moulting their feathers

The water lilies continue to put on a lovely show. What a lovely view this is, over the loch up towards Culblean Hill.

Water lilies, with Culblean Hill behind

And you can sit on a bench to enjoy it! The loos weren’t the only structural failure we had this week. The bench looked fine until you looked closely at the legs.

Nice view from the old bench

So we replaced it. Guess who forgot the spirit level? The bottle of water isn’t there for a drink, rather as a makeshift level so no-one slides downhill on the new bench!

New bench, with makeshift “spirit level”.

As I was writing this, Willow, my colleague, has come in with a very old tooth she found in the Vat. It’s a cow’s tooth, and very old. I don’t know when the last time cattle would have been run across the hill here, but it’s not within the last twenty years- and the tooth looks older and more worn than that. It’s tempting to imagine it came from a highland cow that Gilderoy MacGregor was stealing before he had to run for cover in the Vat!

Old cow tooth

And finally- don’t forget it’s our Fun Day next Friday! We have a lot on – and it’s all free! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard, free. We’ll have local storyteller Pauline Cordiner (free!) here, an excellent facepainter (also free!) and the opportunity to try lots of free crafts- including making necklaces, designing your own bag, building your own birdbox and making mini oil lamps. There will also be teas, coffees and cakes available – they’re not free but are for the Guide Dogs. We hope to see you here!

A pic of our events leaflet!





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