Saturday, 27 August 2016

Excursion to the Slamannan Bog Project

Today was Wild Reekie's first foray out of Edinburgh, to visit the 9000 year old peat bog which my friend Scott Shanks has been restoring in his role as Conservation Officer at Buglife.

Scott introducing members of Wild Reekie to the bog

The raised bog near Cumbernauld is the remnant of a mighty peatland that stretched all the way to Copenhagen - when giant elk could walk across it. We didn't see giant elk but we did see Giant wood wasps.

Female Giant wood wasp

Over the past year, Scott has been overseeing the installation of peat dams to block the drains which have been being damaging the bog since the seventeenth century. These have been causing it to release carbon into the atmosphere, release pollution into the water, and lose its value as habitat for a unique range of plants and animals.
New dams blocking an old drain to create pools, with wet ground on either side

Just a few months after the dams raise the water level, and stop the peat from eroding, sphagnum moss and cotton grass began to re-grow, and dragonflies, darters, pond-skaters, whirligig beetles and other water-loving plants and invertebrates, recolonised pools and marshes which had been silent for hundreds of years.

Female Black darter
Spotting Pond skaters, Water crickets and Whirligig beetles on the surface of a pool
We were able to contribute to the restoration of the bog by helping to fell some self-seeded Lodgepole pines which were encroaching on one edge.

When we started, the trees came up to just behind where this photo was taken. (Look there's me on the right!)

We were all inspired by Scott's passion and knowledge, and by the speed with which this degraded landscape was recovering and being filled with wildlife.

You can support projects like this by joining Buglife - it's only £2 a month - and I'd warmly encourage you to do so here.

Sign up to hear of future Wild Reekie events on our Meetup page, and follow me on Twitter @eleanormharris.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Launching the Great Park Hunt

Today I had the luxury of attending a Wild Reekie event without leading it. Heili shares my enthusiasm for urban greenspaces and having come to many of my events, suggested the idea of trying to visit every park in Edinburgh. She then discovered there are around 150!

But you do a thing by starting it, and so today Heili led a trip to King George V park in Canonmills. Given its fascinating history and its closeness to the centre of Edinburgh, it is very little known: several of the group had never been before.

Heili had done great research on the history of the park and was able to tell us all about its industrial history; its incarnations as a curling pond, Victorian gymnasium, football ground and award-winning children's playpark in 1989; and its periods of neglect.

We peered into the Scotland Street tunnel and strolled down the route of the old railway line to Canonmills.

Sign up to hear about future Park Hunts as well as other Wild Reekie events on our Meetup Page. We have made a Park Hunt Reward Card, so if you collect five parks with us you'll get a prize!