Saws and Spades

Well as you’d expect the autumn colours are still starring in this week’s blog. The stunning Rowan reds and Aspen yellows are bringing us a lot of joy on site.

I’m getting inspired for the upcoming Autumn Woodland Arts events with the colours. The 16th is now fully booked but there are still spaces left for Tuesday the 23rd of October if you hurry! From 2 till 4pm we’ll be heading out into the woods, collecting and identifying tree leaves and creating a big piece of art. Book now to avoid disappointment by phoning 01339 881667 or email


Tree leaves

The picture above of tree leaf examples of the species found at Dinnet Oakwood is courtesy of a fellow naturalist; thanks for letting me use this! Such a simple but stunning example of art that can be created using autumn leaves.

We were very lucky with the weather this past weekend when the Aberdeen University Conservation Society joined us on Saturday to help clear a large area of dry Heath of tree saplings. 18 folk turned up to help with a job that seems very daunting with just two people but turned into a very successful and enjoyable job with the work split between so many of us. This work is necessary to stop our Heath, important for the Bearberry plant, from turning into woodland. We were pulling and cutting, primarily Scots Pine saplings, some were very hard to spot.


Thanks Conservation Society for the pictures!

It was a long, tiring day in the gorgeous sunshine.


We needed a lie down!

This habitat may seem like it’s quite empty and like not much could thrive…


However our dry heath is dominated by heather and bearberry (bearberry is usually found above 250m but is below 200m at Muir of Dinnet) and rich in plant species such as intermediate wintergreen, petty whin and stone bramble. Muir of Dinnet supports the 4th largest area of bearberry in Scotland.

Bearberry flower

Bearberry flower

Through the work day I spooked a Woodcock and a Brown Hare that had been hunkered down for the day in the Heather (sorry to both). On Monday evening when I was visiting the Heath I also spotted 3 magnificent Red Deer! I can only imaging they were admiring our handiwork in the many strewn tree saplings. Although it is unusual to spot these deer so low down we get them just up the hill behind the visitor centre so it’s not a huge distance for them to travel for the heather and young trees to chew on. Now that their source of Oak, Birch and Rowan leaves are falling away for the winter they will rely much more on alternative food sources. I am gutted I didn’t have the camera with me as they must have been less than 100m away and hung about for a bit. But here’s a slightly blurry video and picture caught by our camera traps just to prove they are here.


Red Deer

I was speaking to one of our local residents and regular visitors about the Red Deer and he said he once had an encounter driving along the Tarland road when he had to stop and wait for 17 Red deer to calmly cross the road! What a sight! Do be careful driving to and from places at the normal commuting times now; as it’s darker at these times the deer species are much more likely to be active and potential hazards on the road.

It’s been getting colder and quieter on the reserve this past month so we’ve been moving on to the end of year tasks. One of these includes turfing over the fire pits we’d like to become grass again and maintaining the fire pits we want to stay for safe campfires. It’s a very satisfying job to see how much cleaner the place looks afterwards. It’s also lovely to be digging and having the Robins follow you about for the inevitable worms.


Neat little fire pit

You can see how much bigger the fire pit above was before! Not so safe.

Finally here is an absolutely stunning wasp…don’t scroll down if you don’t want to see.












I struggle to understand why people hate these little fellows. I mean look at that fuzzy face! It’s certainly worth being wary of these creatures but as long as you give them space in the summer months and be careful when carrying sweet things coming into autumn they pose no threat. I mean this time of year they’ve been kicked out from home, lost their structured life and food is all they have left…I think the students might relate….

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