Muir of Dinnet NNR- Turning Seasons

As soon as September hit this year, it suddenly feels like the year has turned. The nights especially, have been cold, and the frost light has come on a couple of mornings. This nip in the air will make the leaves go yellow faster…the cold, and the shortening day length, are their triggers to shut down for the year.

Bird cherry leaves revealing yellow carotenoid pigments

How long will it be until we see geese back? The winds are supposed to turn northerly this weekend and I wouldn’t be surprised if the first few geese ride these south, fleeing the coming Arctic winter.

Geese flying over

The other migrants, those that come here for the summer, are fairly thinning out now. There are still a few swallows around and the odd willow warbler- but I haven’t heard or seen any of the others for over a week now.

Willow warbler

There are still plenty of fungi on the reserve. Look out for the orange birch boletes, these have an orange cap and (as the name suggests) you can only find them where there are birch trees.

Orange birch bolete

I continue to despair of a tiny fraction of our visitors. Why, having lugged full beer cans and bottles onto the reserve, can’t you take away the almost-no-weight empties? It’s not even like the people’d be full of beer- as everyone knows, beer is only ever rented!

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

The red squirrels have started visiting the feeder again. They, like everything else in the  woods, are stocking up for winter…and some high fat, easily accessible peanuts are a real bonus!

Feeding up

We’ve not actually been at Dinnet a great deal this week, a staff meeting has taken us west and south for a couple of days. While I’m not generally a fan of meetings  (do they get in the way of real work? Discuss…) it’s a great opportunity to see and catch up with the others in the Tayside and Grampian team- who we otherwise don’t see for most of the year. There was an interesting programme of events, starting with a talk from Invercauld estate on moorland and grouse management. While there’s no doubt that conservationists and grouse moor managers don’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues, we sometimes forget that we do have the common ground of an enthusiasm for the outdoors and countryside….that’s why we do the jobs we do.

A rainbow in the Dee valley

Listening to a talk on “Pearls in Peril”

Tree planting to stabilize banks

We also had a go at spotting beavers at Loch of the Lowes. These animals are now well established in Tayside and you can clearly see the trees they felled from the hide. Unfortunately, the beast itself remained absent- possibly due to the hilarity resulting from an attempt to upload a picture from the hide on social media….apparently, large tree-felling rodents aren’t the first thing that shows up under “beaver”. It was worth it for the full moon reflecting over the water, though.

The view from the hide at loch of the Lowes. Sadly no beavers.

Full moon over one of the Lunan Lochs

We also had a very informative session on what are catchily known as “INNS” – Invasive Non-Native Species. This includes stuff like Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, piri-piri burr, signal crayfish….and various other plants, animals, molluscs and event sea squirts. As someone who has done battle with a few of these, it was reassuring to hear what can be done- and that other dislike these things as much as we do!.

Himalayan balsalm






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