Storm Arwen…

Well, the autumn gales have arrived, and my oh my arrive they did! Sources report that nearby Perth airport recorded 101mph! People have been without electricity for a week now – Storm Arwen was a bit of a beast! Here on the Reserve, we were thankful to have come away relatively unscaved. There was only one tree down over the path at Burleigh which was an easy enough chainsaw job. The Burleigh car park is looking a bit worse for wear with 7 trees down. We had to do some emergency sawing on Saturday morning to get the car park open for the weekend.

Down over the entrance of the Car Park
Some big ‘uns down at the far side of the car park. – To be sorted very soon.
A nice easy tree to deal with – nothing too technical
Neil sawing the head of the tree to get it ‘un-stuck’.

As I cycled around the reserve looking for any dangerous trees (thankfully they weren’t any dangerous ones near the path) – I was admiring how wintery the Reserve was feeling! The sub-zero temperatures had frozen some of our wetlands and small areas of the Loch.

Levenmouth Pools totally frozen
A winter birkwood (scots for birchwood)
Dusting of Snow

The woodlands were full of finch flocks; Bullfinches ‘peww-ing’ around the woodland with supporting acts of Siskin ‘tiiii-luh-ing’ and gregarious flocks of Long-tailed tits in accompaniment. Although the trees weren’t down over the path, the woodlands away from the path faired a bit worse. Many trees have succumbed to the wind, fallen over with their rootplates in the air, others have snapped half way up – there will be Storm Arwen scars for many years to come!

Big tree down

We were drafted in along with NNR staff from the Stirling Reserves to help with some chainsawing at our sister Reserve, Tentsmuir NNR. Sadly, Tentsmuir has been truly decimated by the storm. Large stands of timber have been totally wiped out, and trees have fallen over all of the paths and have blocked entrances and exits to the Reserve.

Sadly, this was once a massive woodland!

The aim of the day was the clear windblown trees off of the trail around Morton Lochs. Windblown trees are especially dangerous to work with as they can be awkward, have unbelievable forces of tension and compression and this can lead to a lot of movement while sawing. Obviously, this can only be done by properly qualified chainsaw operators, so we were lucky to have the experience of our very own Neil and Stirling NNR’s Reserve Officer, Steve, both of which have their windblown/dangerous trees ticket. As they were felling the dangerous trees and making them safe, us less qualified chainsaw operators were logging up the trees and moving them off of the paths.

An iron horse, full of the days kit! How many chainsaws can you count!?
After! – A clear, safe path.
Steve using another one of his specialist chainsaw tickets – winch assisted felling

It was great to get a day out sawing and helping on another NNR. We will be back out next week to continue clearing more trails/roads. This forest has now drastically changed, and will never be the same again in our lifetime. This will be the case for many other forests around the country. Mother Nature truly is a force not to be reckoned with. Also adding a friendly reminder to please be careful when using chainsaws – everyone who uses one on our reserves is properly trained, competent, qualified and holds the correct tickets for the work that is being carried out. It’s so important to be competent and experienced when working with trees and chainsaws – there is a lot of weight and sharp things involved!

The weather is due to turn colder again, so stay safe and keep warm everyone!

About SimonR

I am a keen naturalist/wildlife conservationist from North-East Scotland. I work at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve as a Reserve Officer and have a deep interest in conservation and wildlife management in Scotland. Keen Birder, naturalist and practical habitat management enthusiast.
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2 Responses to Storm Arwen…

  1. Melanie says:

    Simon, thanks for showing so many impressive photos. I’d like to do a bit in the Perthshire Advertiser about the path clearing mission after the storm. Would you be up for talking and letting me use your pictures? 01738 493214.

  2. Anne says:

    This is an awe-filled post: the power of the wind is well illustrated and I enjoy the before and after photographs. Well done to all of you who are dealing with the aftermath of the storm so efficiently.

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