All pumped up!

Young cyclists at Inverness Pump Track

From a choice of five options, there was a massive majority in favour of developing the Curling Pond area into a Pump Track Skills area.  The survey carried out in the Community Hall on 15th September resulted in 115 questionnaires being completed and 112 people voting for this option, against a combined total vote of 40 for all other alternatives.  The survey was facilitated by the Community Company, with the results being collated and analysed independently by VABS.

Many thanks to everyone, young and old, who came along to cast their vote and express their views which resulted in this outcome. A number of comments were made, which are still being collated, but the headline results are shown below.

Following this decisive result, the next step is to form a group to take forward the project.  There will be some hurdles to overcome along the way, first and foremost of which will be to establish ownership of the site – it currently does not belong to anyone. The way forward on how to incorporate the project group and clear the first hurdle will be discussed at Boat of Garten Community Company’s meeting on Wednesday, 26th September at 7.30pm.  PLEASE come along and contribute your thoughts and ideas to the meeting – all are welcome.

If you’d like to find out more about how a community company operates, visit the Community Company page, or come to the meeting and ask!

Osprey Family Day 15th September 2018

Odin – photo courtesy of RSPB Loch Garten webcam

Infinite Arts kites










We are launching the Year of the Osprey with an Osprey Family Day on 15th September at the Community Hall which will run from 12 noon until 3.20 pm – come along and join the fun!

The Osprey family is an integral part of the Boat of Garten family and as such is much admired and loved by the villagers and visitors alike. It is therefore appropriate to celebrate this family’s sixty-fifth year of residency and sixty years of RSPB management; celebrations have already started with pupils at Deshar Primary School writing and illustrating a book about ‘our’ Ospreys which will be published by RSPB in time for Christmas. 


WORKSHOPS 12.00 noon – 3.00 pm

  • Osprey Kite Making – Infinite Arts
  • Osprey Face Painting – Heidi Spencer
  • Build Your Own Garden Osprey – HC Productions
  • Migration Map – Boat of Garten Wildlife Group
  • Osprey Tuck Shop
  • Osprey Fun and Games 
  • Exhibition of Osprey Art Work


3.00 – 3.20 pm

  • Osprey Dance – ‘Feathers And Fish’ By Deshar Primary School & Friends
  • Cairngorm School Of Dance – Kate Morag Dance
  • The Osprey Story From Deshar Primary School’s Own Story Book
  • Osprey Poetry – Deshar Primary School
  • Gilly On Guitar Together With Deshar Primary School  – The Osprey Song



It was agreed at the Big Conversation on 28th April that the community would be asked what it would like to see at the Curling Pond. Boat of Garten Community Company is organising a survey in the Community Hall on Saturday, 15 September during the Launch of the Osprey Migration Festival, so please drop in between 12 noon and 3pm to give your views.

The survey will be overseen by a representative from VABS, and members of the Community Company and Nash Masson from Ride Cairngorm will be there between 2pm and 3pm to answer any project-specific questions. 



Ashley Fripp is certainly ‘young’, and he is ‘new’ to the stage in Boat of Garten Community Hall – but there ends the analogy!  Ashley is a young pianist who has performed in prestigious concert halls across Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australia – that adds up to performances in all 5 continents!  In addition, he has won prizes in more than a dozen national and international competitions and has appeared on BBC television and radio as well as radio networks across Europe.  So, with that pedigree, he is by no means new to the classical music scene.

So how did this young musician come to the attention of Ann Napier, leader of The Osprey Music Society (TOMS) in Boat of Garten?  It happened in 2017, when Ann attended the St Magnus Festival in Orkney.  In Ann’s words, “This diminutive figure walked onto the stage, sat down at his grand piano and then proceeded to flood the auditorium with wonderful, powerful music”.  Ann’s first thoughts on hearing his performance was to question how she had not heard of him previously – and of course she recognised an opportunity to pounce and sign him up to perform in the strath.

Ashley Fripp has just recorded his first CD, which is identified as “essential listening” by the Sunday Times and which has been received with accolades from BBC Music, amongst which, “His Chopin breathes and dances” – and Chopin is one of the composers who will feature in Ashley’s performance in Boat of Garten on 16th September, together with music by Bach, Schumann and Prokofiev.  So, come and hear for yourself and enjoy this prestigious talent of the keyboard.  The concert starts at 7.30pm and information on tickets is available from Ann Napier, at or on 01479 831213.

Assassins, Harvestmen and Cairn Twitter

On top of Fairy Hill is a cairn. It has been said that these stone piles were a way of communicating hundreds of years ago. They were often used to mark junctions and summits, like Fairy Hill.

Fairy Hill Cairn

Fairy Hill Cairn


You can see hidden amongst the rocks folded paper notes that have been left by local and visiting children.

They have been using the cairn as a postal point to pass messages to whoever wants to answer. They talk about their hobbies and whether fairies do live on this hill.

Its great to see that children are out and about in the woods using their imaginations, maybe these social media sites need to watch.


Havestmen Spider

Havestmen Spider

Harvestmen, which are often thought to be spiders,are in fact of the order Opiliones and are actually more closely related to the Scorpion, but not venomous.

With its eight legs it looks like a spider, but can you see the two eyes on top of its head?

This was found on Blaeberry leaves close to Fairy hill. The red splodges on him are parasitic mites.



Boat June 055

Assassin Fly/Bee Mimic


Cleggs have been terrible this summer, but on two occasions I have been buzzed by an Assassin Fly or Bee Mimic. They are one of our largest insects of the family Asilidae(robber flies) and Genus Lapria(Bee-like robber flies)


They wait and watch before they chase, attacking in flight before injecting venom into their prey. They lay larva in deadwood and emerge during hot spells.


This one is not fully mature so therefore is not as orange/yellow yet, but once in full colour with the hairy body it can be easily mistaken for a bee.


Common Wintergreen is growing in the Deshar woodlands and can be seen quite easily at the side of the paths. The Intermediate Wintergreen is less common but is easily detected by its extra long stamens which protrude out of the globular flowers, similar to the Common. Seven flower stalks of the Intermediate were discovered recently in Boat of Garten.

Pyrola Minor/Common Wintergreen                                Pyrola Media/Intermediate Wintergreen

Pyrola Minor/Common Wintergreen015

Capercaillie in Deshar Woods

Caper HeadAfter spending the winter in the Community Garden, our Capercaillie sculpture was placed in the centre of Deshar Wood after the woodland had had its second thinning.

It was made in local wood, notably the tail constructed in Rowan and put together by sculpturer Kevin Blackwell and the children of Deshar Primary School.

He greets visitors, locals and dog walkers at the center crossroads to their surprise, helping to increase awareness of the Capercaillie that inhabit these woods.

Boat13 041Caper Sculpt.

The sculpture is of a male Capercaillie with its fanned tail and its head raised in a slightly aggressive pose, which is the way they behave during “Lekking”. During April and May these birds have been “Leing” in the Boat Woodlands and therefore it is very important to adhere to the seasonal signage within the sensitive areas. If you see the sculpture on your walk this means that you are in the centre of the sensitive area- please keep your dogs under close control or preferably on a short lead.

Caper at center

boat4 011The Boat Community Company were hosts to a group of Norweigen National Park board members. They met local members and saw all the efforts the community have put into improving the village and their relationships with the CNPA.

After a great lunch I gave them a guided walk through the Deshar Woodlands in great weather. We exchanged ideas and experiences, and discussed management issues in woodland. Excluding this Norweigen group I have had 23 people on scheduled guided walks in April.


Over 4000 tonnes of timber were extracted out of  Deshar Woodlands over the winter months. After some disruption and a dry winter, the tracks have been reinstated and are in good condition, but not everywhere. Repairs will continue after the Capercaillie breeding period.

bog2 016    bog3 008






Juniper and Holly have been stratigically planted at the side of footpaths in order to provide natural screening in areas where it is too open. As well as being native, seedlings they will provide good cover from the paths for the Capercaillie. Over 1500 saplings have been planted by Seafield Estate.

Boat13 023   I eventually found this Opal Olympia 1950’s ? after two seasons looking. Very well hidden in a hollow with Scots Pine seedlings taking root on the bonnet. Research has not uncovered the truth of this left hand drive vehicle and when,how and who bogged it down so long ago, quite possibly before the forest was planted,1964.

Boat13 005

This is the second bag of rubbish that I retrieved from the Deshar Woodlands this month, but this was after 6 months leave, so not so bad. Dog Poo signs have recently been posted as there were comments on the number of “doggy bags” left in the woodland. An improvement has been noted by locals.


Boat13 059  On the 20th April our new playground was opened at the community hall. There were many activities for the children – one of which was  a Den building session which I ran with the help of Bodger the Badger and Cyril the Squirrel!


Walks will recommence on Thursday 30th May at 11:00, then every Monday/Thursday thereafter at 10:30am/11:00am respectively.

If you go down to Boat woods today…

…you’ll be in for a big surprise. Twenty five primary children from Deshar Primary School had a terrific day learning how to make woodland creatures with willow,rowan and pine, with the help from woodland artist Kevin Blackwood .

The team at the Curling Ponds, Deshar woods.


3 little Birds

There were a variety of creatures to make, such as, Crossbill, Red Squirrel, Hedgehog, Dragonfly and Wood Mouse. The children also helped Kevin start the Capercaillie sculpture which will be eventually be prominently placed in the woodlands as a focal piece of art and at the same time a reminding that this special bird is definitely living in the Boat of Garten woodlands.

There is another type of Capercaillie in the woods, a plyboard one!  This is a prototype silohette sign which has been put on the post at the Curling Pond gate. This one is life size but could be smaller, painted and easily positioned on existing or new posts. Any opinions would be welcomed.

Curling Pond Caper


There has been some good news this week about the Caper Brood Count which is undertaken by the Game Conservation Council on behalf of SNH.  Officially for 2012 they counted 12 Capercaillie in total of which there were 2 broods of 3 healthy chicks, 3female and 3 male. This is great news as the weather has not helped other species this season.

These campers stayed one night and left no trace or sign they were there, which is great and responsable behaviour, wild camping is permitted if not close to a road or track but lighting a fire is not allowed unless in an advertised fire pit site. This incident is rare as far as I know but I have found another camp site deep within the woods with a fire site which has been used once this year.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog and look forward to adding more next spring and thanks for your support,

Scott Henderson, Boat of Garten Woodland Ranger

Capercaillie Signs come in

The heart of Deshar Wood

On the 16th August I unscrewed and collected all the Capercaillie “please stay on paths and keep your dog on a short lead” signs. They will be put back up on the 1st April 2013 in order to remind all users of the Capercaillie starting to Lek and nesting on the ground. The main signs which show the sensitive areas remain up at present.

Ranger Scott Henderson removing Caper Signs

Cotton Grass









There are only a couple weeks to go before the Guided Walks will be finished. If you do manage to make it you are sure to be welcomed and maybe lucky enough to see what we’ve been seeing in your woods, like these wild flowers…


Harebell a member of the Bellflower family


Bog Asphodel










I have had the luck to find the “Narrow-headed Ant” and its nest which is smaller than the larger Wood Ants nest and also is made more with types of grasses rather than pine needles.

Narrow headed Wood Ant Nest

Grasshoppers are heard but rarely seen as they are quick at jumping using their large rear legs which they use to make the noise you hear.

The Common Green Grasshopper






There has been a lot of spider activity recently,the webs can be seen in the heather and between trees.One of the familys is the Orb Web spiders. The common Garden spider or “cross spider” is variable in colour,in Deshar Woods they seem to be mostly black. It is a very common spider which scares easily,us not them! The other Orb spider I’ve spotted was this beautiful Nursery Web Spider which would not give up defending its nursery of spiderlings as I took photos.


The “Cross” Spider

Nursery Web Spider guarding her babies within nest






I have also seen this Bracket Fungus growing on Scots Pine which I believe is Dyers Mazegill but could easily be another Mazegill species.

Dyers Mazegill on Scots Pine

Hawker Alley

You do not need to go far from the village or, in fact, off the path network to see wildlife.If you keep your eyes open and stay alert reward can be sweet. These Roe buck and doe were only 20 m from the village hall – notice how they stand still and observe before making a decision to scarper. Roe can be perfectly still and watching you without you being aware.

Probably about 80% of the photographs I’ve taken have all been done from the paths or just at the sides. One of the best tracks to observe and listen to wildlife is the main NW forest ride track running from the centre of the Deshar woods. I’ve been observing many small birds such as Crossbills, Firecrests and Crested Tits, but the current stars are the Dragonflies especially with the sunnier weather. The most frequently observed Dragonfly is the Common Hawker.

Male Common Hawker


The Hawker Dragonflies can be 65-80mm long, but the much smaller Damselflies like the Common Blue are about 30-35mm long. Apart from size,the Damselfly keeps its wings closed when landed whilst the Dragonflies keep them open. These fiery predators rely on bogs and lochans to support their life cycle,of which there are a few dotted around the Boat woodlands.

Round-leaved Sundew




Some insect eating plants called Round-leaved Sundew grow amongst the Spagnum mosses. The Sundews have special leaves which are sticky and trap the small insects like the one in this photo. Over some time the insect is absorbed into the plant, which boosts the Sundew’s protein levels as these bogs are very acidic and nutrient poor.  There are 300 species of Spagnum which come in some amazing colours. They provide a very important habitat for insects and invertabrates such as the Hawker which will lay eggs on these spagnum blankets.

Scotch Argus on a Spear Thistle at Loch Vaa


A locally common butterfly, Scotch Argus butterfly, can be seen in the Highlands living from about 400m up to our mountain summits. A brown butterfly with orange spots on its upper wings, it can often be mistaken for the Ringlet butterfly.

Scotch Argus Butterfly







Butterfly Bonanza

The woodland walks have been going well with a group of 10 last Thursday enjoying the summer warmth that has eventually arrived – long may it last. Guided Walks are every Monday and Thursday, meeting at 10am at the ‘Hub’.

One of the Wintergreen family have been in flower in the Deshar and Milton woods as well as Creeping Lady’s-tresses, an orchid of the pine woodlands and the Common Cow-wheat.

Common Wintergreen



Slender St John’s Wort

The Butterflies have been out in force this week,this fritillary was seen just along from the yard on Bell Heather at the side of the track. Marsh Violet ,which is the caterpillars foodplant is abundant nearby. Others seen were the Ringlet which is fairly common,the Small Heath which was too quick for me and the Meadow Brown which I saw at Milton. Moths like the pineapple smelling Gold Swifts were looking for mates amongst the heather so to was the Light Emerald which blends in with its Cowberry surrounding,but not as good as the Riband Wave Moth who used the Lichen.

Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary Butterfly

Ringlets on Milk Thistle









Riband Wave Moth

The film this week is of a piece of Scots Pine bark stuck spinning on a spiders gossamer thread highlighted in the sun,I thought it looked like another butterfly or moth.

When I explored the giant granny Pine which is lying down near the Kinchurdy track I found quite a few invertebrites which rely on the deadwood for their livelyhood.The Ichneumon Wasps lay eggs with their long pointy thing(ovipositor)into the larva of certain moths who look for the rotting wood to lay in.The longhorn Beetles take about 2 years before they pupate from the deadwood.which is vital for healthy woodlands.

Female Ichneumon Wasp

Two-banded Longhorn Beetle











The Roe deer are in their best colours at the moment as you can see from this Doe and Fawn taken at Loch Milton. Roe will bark to warn others of danger,this often gets mistaken for dogs! The lovely purple blue Vipers Bugloss is a coastal plant that prefers sandy ground. Its poisinous to animals and has a nasty spikey stem.

Roe Doe and Fawn at Milton Loch


Dead Man’s Fingers


One of our largest wild flowers which you can see now is the Foxglove which is predominately purple but white also as in the photo. Their name comes from the folklore that bad fairies gave the flowers to foxes to put on their feet to soften their tread, must work as I don’t see a lot of foxes!   The latin for the flower is Digitalis Purpurea. Digitabulum means thimble in latin and the medicine digitalis comes from the plant as well, but beware the plant is poisonous, the juice is known as Dead Man’s Fingers.

Barred Red Moth whose caterpillars feed on Scots Pine


I found this moth settled on some cowberry leaves just at the back of Fairy Hill. It was hard to identify as this particular moth has various variations in colour. Its called a Barred Red or Hylaea Fasciaria and its caterpillars feed on Scots Pine trees.



If you are hearing what sounds like Herons calling in the woods at the back of the Community Hall it may not be what you’re thinking. I have more and more been observing four Jays,with difficulty I might add as these birds are very shy but vocal, watch for the flash of blue and white as they pass at speed.

Another moth hard to identify but I think its a Silver Ground Carpet Moth or Xanthorhoe Montana in latin.

Silver Ground Carpet Moth whose larva feed on Bedstraw

When out walking ,look for the flash of red in the Blaeberry/Cowberry forest floor, you might find this fungi which is parasitic to the Cowberry.

Exobasidium vaccinii fungus that parisites on Cowberry









Cuckoo Spit

Every year people ask me who’s been spitting on the heathers? Well its not us but a wee bug called a Philaenus Spumarius !!! or Froghopper which is easier. Its also known as Spittle Bugs as they produce a foamy substance for the nymph to hide in protected as its very bitter to the birds.


Common Spotted Orchid





There are a few different Orchids out at the moment, one of the more common being this Spotted Orchid found in a group of three others in the woods at the back of the Hall. It is a species of marsh orchid and hybridises freely with the Heath Spotted/Early Marsh and Northern Marsh Orchids. So identification can be hard sometimes,notice the spots on the leaves and how pale this one is.




The film this week is of a young Long Tailed Tit preening himself. There were seven of them and activity was rapid to say the least,therefore I was lucky just to get this with my wee digi. It was filmed just off one of the tracks leading out of Loch Vaa.

long tailed tit






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