David Adam ..... Scottish creative artist ...... author of Wildsketch ..... social realist in Postcard from Brechin
Studio and Wildsketch journal
Studio and Wildsketch journal
The noose around nature's neck seems to tighten each time I visit the Angus glens and hills. Munro baggers by the score besiege Scotland's mountains with eroding footfall to tick yet another summit that was much the same as the last one they ticked. Dog walkers transport their mutts for miles in order to besmirch the landscape with bagged up dog shite left like a gift to the gods to last forever by the path side, and 'couldn't give a monkey's fart' neds carry drink cans from their designer cars to drink, then dump on the glen's grassy verges.
Folk visiting the glens of Angus who usually would not throw down banana skins or orange peel or boiled egg shells or apple cores onto the town pavements think it fit to chuck it into the heather where no-one will see except their negligent consciences. And, it is not only townies on a visit to the glen that do this, estate workers cowp stuff as well, grouse beaters are famed for chucking their bottles of 'highland spring' into the great outdoors.
I have even picked up cannisters of rodenticide used by game-keepers to control rats, just thrown down or stuffed into rabbit burrows ... and I won't even start on spent shotgun cartridges or bullet casings. Fencing contractors hired to erect moorland fences are just as bad, off-cuts of wood and wire are left and old fences are knocked down onto the moor to rot; the number of times I have tripped on discarded or old fence wire. Flow in nature's footsteps, let's be sympathetic to raw creation and not throw discarded damnation into Mother Nature's future.
The delight that all nature can bring to the human heart is immeasurable and today my heart swelled to find something new ..... a Northern Brown Argus butterfly and its larval food plant is confined to the Rockrose that is flowering right now at certain locations. I also discovered what I presume to be a Mason Wasp; one of these beasties floundered on the track after recently emerging from pupation. The Syrphid family of flies are those that imitate wasps and one that I find on the higher moors is the Bog Hoverfly, a big, bumbly black and yellow job that buzzes like a bee.
Ah, if all else fails, excitement wells up inside when seeing a Golden Eagle, and I've seen a few. The feeling is always majestic and awe inspiring for some inexplicable reason, but I do have to work hard to get results. Today, with fifteen miles under my belt, this beauty creeps up behind me in surprise and the bird looks like a three year old that is moulting as some wing primaries are missing and the tail has vestiges of the white ring.
The eagle gives a growly look at me when performing a fly past, then cuts into the strong westerly to side-glide along the ridge. After a scouting soar over some peat hags, that declare Mountain Hare territory, it flaps heavily into thewind stopping for a breather on a grassy slope, then restless with nagging hunger flies on. My heart flies on its wings for moments then lonely sadness tugs a tear into the winds of farewell.
Later, high above the madding crowd in the glen car park, an eagle soars ..... no-one saw ..... and that just about sums up the shortcomings of many visitors to the Angus glens.
My favourite wildlife combination is the Golden Plover and the Dunlin. Both are tag partners in the game of survival on the highest moors. The tiny Dunlin is clever because it uses the taller Golden Plover as a lookout and guard. Where the watchful plover goes the shadowing Dunlin is there busy foraging over the moor for insects maybe one or two metres away, but when the plover calls then takes flight the Dunlin also calls then flies in a knee-jerk, synchronous movement.
I love this show of dependency that one bird has on another, but is it interdependency. The plover doesn't seem to benefit from the Dunlin but occasionally the plover does dart forward to pick up a missed grub or insect from the busy, bill proddings of the Dunlin, so maybe 'large' does gain from 'little' in some 'parasitic' way. An interesting extract from British Birds states that the Dunlin is also named the Plover's Provider or the Plover's Page or, in Iceland, the Louthrall (Plover's Slave), and, otherwise, locally called Ox-bird or Sea-snipe, Stint and Red-backed Sandpiper.
Here on Invermark estate, and also on Gannochy and Millden, in the Angus glens there has been considerable activity on the tree planting front with many young plantation areas fenced off to make them deer proof but that fencing also deters the marauding Red Fox which just might be attractive for nesting Hen Harriers and Merlin or, as it is now, suitable for Stonechat, Ring Ouzel, Wheatear and all grouse. The plantations here seem to support some native tree species and are of a small size that will not be detrimental to the foraging needs of the rare Golden Eagle or be a blot on the landscape.
I saved a Slow-worm from the madness of ignorant souls and untrained dogs that were following me down the track today on the road back to civilisation. (yip, Brechin more civilised than the glen today!) It seemed frozen in its tracks so a nudge and a shuv coaxed the beastie to escape certain death as I have seen many whacked to death by stick wielding yobos in the misconceived and ignorant notion that Slow-worms are venomous Adders, or chewed by uncontrolled dogs, or carelessly run over by vehicles.
Vehicles were parked up everywhere today, and yesterday seemingly. On Invermark, cars were parked on blind bends, over field entrances, even abandoned in the middle of the road so a tight squeeze was necessary to get past ..... just as well no heavy vehicles, farm or fire appliances needed access. The problem has been exacerbated by the Retreat museum closing as it acted as a tourist divergance and car park.
The solution ..... requies more parking space at alternative walking venues like Millden and Gannochy further down the glen. The bottle neck at the glen road ends, like Invermark and Glen Doll, will continue to increase until other areas are offered up for parking and recreational access ....
Full blog at davidadamsketchbook