Muir of Dinnet NNR- The Season of Plenty

Now we’re well into August, we have to start thinking about autumn rather than summer. I’m sure some of you must have noticed how cool and dewy the mornings are getting and they just feel….well, autumn-y. But autumn is a time of plenty for the wildlife- and for us if we choose to tap into the bounty of fruit that is available. We held a wild food walk this week to show people some of the things that our ancestors would have eaten.

Wild raspberry pancakes – a great way to get children to try wild berries

Wool dyed with natural dyes


Wild rasps, strawberries and candied angelica

Mushrooms and blaeberries

Edible fungi- Cep, chanterelle and orange birch bolete

Tasting wild foods

We always emphasise  the importance of safety and sustainability when talking about wild food. Always, be sure 100% what you’re eating…and try a little first, everyone’s system is different. I often wonder if our ancestors tried out foods on less useful members of society…? Sustainability is important too. Our ancestors probably did it without thinking- you used too much of something, you starved. But we have the luxury of going to the supermarket, so we have to be responsible and not take all of a fruit or fungus – the chances are that you won’t need it all anyway, or that at least some will already be home to various insects- so leave plenty to re-grow or for the other wildlife. If you are interested in wild foods, you can find out more here , including some recipes for you to try out at home.

Helen reading from Scots’ Herbal

Smelling wood sage

Saffron milk cap, cut open to demonstrate how our ancestors got added protein- all of the wee holes are made by maggots.

And the wildlife is all taking advantage of all the wild food on offer too. The rowans are now red enough to appeal to the blackbirds, who are scoffing them down like there’s no tomorrow. But, for a wild creature, if they don’t eat enough, there won’t be.

Male blackbird scoffing rowan berries

The late flowers are providing a good nectar source for the butterflies. The devil’s bit scabious is hugely popular and is covered in insects. The most obvious of these are the Scotch arguses, which are just everywhere right now. These are a late-emerging butterfly and don’t seem to have been as badly affected by the cool, wet springs as some other species. They are really enjoying the warm, sunny days we’ve had this week.

Scotch argus

Scotch argus

Unfortunately, so have some people. As we’ve said many times, probably 99% of our visitors are lovely- but there’s always that 1%. Who, this week, had decided to take petrol with them to start a fire. In a can with a broken cap. With a plastic bag to try and keep it from leaking. Now, while in some ways, I have to give them credit for ingenuity, in terms of safety, stupidity and illegality….sorry folks, that’s a Darwin Award waiting to happen.

A novel and not-advised way to carry petrol….and we’d have called the police if we’d caught someone lighting fires with it.

The teasels are late-flowering as well and are much visited by bees and other insects. Come late autumn, their seeds will be a great source of food for finches.


The damselflies are furiously egg-laying around the loch. They only live for a few weeks in the summer and the first frosts will probably spell the end for these vibrant insects.

Common blue damselfly

As the summer moves on, you start to see thousands of “toadlets”. These are this year’s tadpoles, (toadpoles?) now metamorphosed into tiny toads. You can see how tiny this one is, perched on Willow’s hand.

A tiny toadlet

We also got some more footage from a trail camera this week. The best shot (thanks Stephen) was this action shot of a heron, tripping the camera as it flew past. You never know what you might encounter at Muir of Dinnet NNR!

Heron – action shot






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