David Adam ..... Scottish creative artist ...... author of Wildsketch ..... social realist in Postcard from Brechin
Studio and Wildsketch journal
Studio and Wildsketch journal
The feeling of Summer at a fading end, with the inevitable fall into Autumn, comes as a sensation felt rather than as a dramatic change to nature and the landscape. These seasons merge through gradual changes in the flora and fauna of the land until they assume a definitive cloak that marks their very nature.
The spiky tips of Soft Rush tingle with burning bronze, and the once bright fronds of Bracken darken into an acrid frown, and the purple flowers of Ling flush with seedy intent until buzzy bees bumble no more to their sweet attention.Nature draws breath as living continuance falters and a rosy yawn fills the hills and glens of Scotland.
The sense of breathing in that expired excitement of life and reproduction stills the frantic mind into thinking about what has come and gone. The gregarious Sand Martin has vacated its burrowed 'warren' in the sandy cliff by the burn, and dozens of House Martin gather alongside the twittering Swallows as they ready themselves for the cloud dancing flight southwards.
Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher have long since left the moors of Angus, but a pair of Golden Plover still view the hospitable coastline, some twenty miles away, from the lightning scoured hill tops that have been home during the past few months. On my approach, they skirt low over the moor in fast flight then land to wait, as if reluctant to depart until that instinctive, launching moment of migration comes along; push comes to departing shuv for most wildlife on the high moors but some residents thole the hardships all year round.
Our Angus based Golden Eagles endure many hardships but have a healthy population that occupies most but not all of the possible territories available for nesting. These eagles are at the geographical margins of existence in Angus yet defy all statistics by producing more young eagles than in other parts of Scotland. In my opinion, their absence from available territories or suitable habitats can indicate historic or ongoing persecution or disturbance due to changing use of the land like mountaineering or hill track construction or wind-farms.
Wheatears have, in the main, gone but some are still to be seen on the highest tops during passage migration. Ring Ouzel are still about feeding on Rowan berries, and the ubiquitous Meadow Pipit gathers in the lower haughs of the glen but again some are still on the high moors. Adders are still to be found basking in sunny spots and today, as I was crashing through the sheep trodden Bracken, a very handsome, grey coloured male was coiled in bask mode but rapidly vanished into the undergrowth with a rasping hiss; they have over one hundred ribs that flatten in order to absorb more radiant heat ..... luv 'em.
The glow from a late lingering dawn tinted the sky with warmth and from within that serenity came a perpetual call from a raptor of sorts; a yelping, begging call that lasted for minutes but nothing was seen. Lengthy gazing finally revealed a Hen Harrier breaching the skyline with wings held in that crucified shape ..... how appropriate. Whether the call was actually a young harrier's begging call or not I am unsure, but implied hunger and loneliness marked the atmosphere in the glen.
I hear and read enough about carbon release from peat affected by muir-burn but, in my opinion, the cumulative effect of naturally caused peat exposure far outweighs any man-made problems. I frequently visit an area of peat erosion of at least one hectare in size that has been exposed naturally by wind and weather over the centuries, but another contributing factor is the 'hoof-fall' erosion from Red Deer herds that frequent this area. Hundreds of gouging hooves trample the tender peat surface, no doubt releasing much more carbon than your average year's muir-burn on this highland estate.
The pointed beasts of the hill have changed too, from rounded, growing antlers covered in velvet skin they now sport burnished bone ready for the battling rut a month or so away. Stags have put on weight, and just seem to wait for something that comes like an express train over the hills ..... the hormone rush that sets the hills alive with booming roars ..... can only come too soon!it.