Muir of Dinnet NNR – The Season of the Grass

‘Tis the season of the grass. The grasses are all at their full growth just now, as any hay fever sufferers will tell you. Even if you don’t suffer, you may well find yourself sneezing as there’s just so much pollen in the air. I know it’s a bit sad, but I have my favourite, and least favourite grasses. Least favourite definitely has to be cock’s foot. The pollen makes you sneeze and the damnable stuff is like wire when you cut it- I’ve had both mowers and strimmers grind to a halt with cock’s foot wrapped round their blades. Favourite is quaking grass- very pretty, but you don’t get it here, the soil is too acid. And I must admit, they have some great names – cock’s foot, Yorkshire fog, flying bent, sweet vernal grass, crested dog’s tail…the list goes on.

Sunset grass, mostly cock’s-foot

Yorkshire fog, the purple-y coloured grass

It’s not just the grasses that are out. The teasels are nearly at their full growth. The finches love their spiky seed heads over the autumn and winter and winkle the tiny seeds out with their fine bills.


And we’ve seen an adder for the first time in ages! Willow spotted a baby adder curled up the grass. You can see how tiny it is by the size of the goose feather and germander speedwell flower nearby.

Baby adder

you can see how small it is compared to the size of the feather or speedwell flowers

More obvious was this cormorant “wing drying” on the loch. It used to be thought that they were drying their wings, but sitting like this may be do with heat regulation. Or it could be saying “the fish I nearly caught was this big”.

Cormorant “wing drying”.

Also obvious and less attractive was the litter that continues to be left by, well,let’s face it, idiots, around the loch. Funny how it can be carried in but not out, isn’t it?

Funny how it’s much heavier to carry out empty, than in when it’s full, isn’t it?

After not seeing them for nearly a fortnight, we finally caught up with the grebes again. It was one of those odd days when you look over the loch and think “It’s raining. I can see rain on the water. But I can’t feel it”….but you were actually looking at the leading edge of a shower coming towards you.

Raindrops on the loch

The baby grebe is still there- and still hitching a lift on mum’s back. She must be feeling it by now- it looks massive. But I bet lots of parents think that – surely you can’t be that tired that you need carried? Especially now you’re that big!

But, mum, my legs are awfully tired! Big baby grebe on adult’s back.

The rain has made some of the fungi pop up. We’ve seen lots starting to appear, including this orange birch bolete. As its name suggests, it is associated with birch trees and has a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the tree.

Orange birch bolete

While  lots of creatures have finished breeding for the year, some look like they are just away to start. I suspect this squirrel is a pregnant female – she looks pretty fat- and is collecting material for her drey.

Drey making? Squirrel with a mouthful of moss.

Away from the wildlife, we’ve been really busy -lots of strimming and grass cutting, and the Fun Day to prepare for. Tonight, Thursday, the visitor centre looks like a whirlwind has hit it, with all the stuff lying out for tomorrow. But, if you come and see us tomorrow, Fri 7th, it will all be transformed into a wonderful, free activity-filled day!



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