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.
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.
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.
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.