15 folk were there on Tuesday night for a truly splendid botany walk, co-led by Steve and Robin Payne, former vascular plants specialist for SNH. We couldn’t have timed it better, with the sun shining and a cool evening breeze, conditions were perfect for a wander round Findatie in search of botanical points of interest.
We were also pleased to welcome local professional photographer, Martin Pettinger, who has kindly donated a series of his photographs of the walk for use in the blog. Martin’s current work involves landscape photography from around Loch Leven, which he intends to collate as a book, called ‘Around the loch in 80 days’, later in the year. For more of Martin’s work, and to contact him directly, please follow his link. Many thanks for these awesome pictures, Martin!
The Dog Violets flowering on the bank toward the loch provide an excellent source of food for a variety of insects. A close relative, the Marsh Violet, is in fact the specific food plant of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Butterfly.
Closely associated with monastic sites, with a sporadic national distribution, Holy Grass still thrives at various points around Loch Leven, and its sweet smell invokes vanilla and almond. It is also known as Bison Grass in Poland, as it is a popular source of food for the large ungulates, and a Polish vodka is even named after it, as a single blade of Bison (of zubr) Grass is used in each bottle of zubrovka to add flavour to the popular national drink.
Approaching the small wetland area we were a little early for orchids to be flowering, but hundreds of Bogbean made a spectacular site indeed, and a closer look revealed small delicate flowers that merged beautifully on each plant.
On closer inspection on the fringe of the wetland, two of three carnivorous plants were on display- Sundew, and Butterwort. Both employed slightly different tactics to capture their invertebrate prey, with Sundew using sticky globules on the end of tentacles to catch flying insects, and Butterwort using sticky flat star-shaped leaf patterns on the ground that enticed insects to land on. Both effective, and both enormously attractive little plants, well worth a look. The fantastic purple flower of the Butterwort stands proud as an attractor to potential victims.
Another food plant of a popular butterfly was found, the Cuckoo Flower, or Lady’s Smock. Known to be the food plant of Orange Tip Butterflies, it has had a particularly good spring, whilst other plants and animals have struggled. It’s name makes a somewhat loose connection to the fact that it flowers at around the same time that Cuckoos can be heard returning from their migration, although in truth, the two events do not always coincide these days. Look out for it on roadside verges and local grasslands and wildflower meadows near you.
An interesting flower head on this grass, that gains it’s name from the appearance when older of a cock’s foot.
As we disbanded, Martin held back to capture a few more cracking shots, including this one of a tiger moth caterpillar species…
…and another wonderful scenic shot of Loch Leven. He’s an award-winning photographer for a reason!
I was lucky enough to catch a shot of this Chiffchaff near the car park before heading home, singing his wee head off from a power line.
For those of you that missed the botany walk at Findatie, there is another chance this year to join us on a botanical adventure, this time Burleigh Botany will be taking place on Tuesday 18th June from 6-8pm. Please call the reserve office on 01577 864439 for more information, or to book your place.