Portmoak Community Woodland

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November 2014 Newsletter
As with gardening, so with community woodlands.  This has been a time to enjoy the fruits of our labours.  Many of the apple trees in the community orchard in Kilmagad Wood have been covered with fruit and our third harvest has been the best yet.  We’ve seen a wonderful increase from just one apple on the young trees in the first year, to several hundred this time.  It’s great that the hard work of planting and pruning is producing results..

We filled a basket with apples and put it in Kinnesswood Shop and we’re grateful to them for  making  space for it and allowing people to help themselves.  Of course, being a community orchard, the idea is that people should pick their own and if we get a good crop next year we’ll make sure everyone knows that they can do that.

There’s a huge range of fruit trees in the orchard , bearing eaters and cookers in every colour shape and size.  We’re still learning about their different ripening times and some take ages.  If you walk up through the orchard you may yet find some apples there, as well as hazelnuts on the bushes.
Portmoak Moss is also a rewarding place to walk at this time of the year. Red squirrels have been spotted regularly and there’s a huge array of mushrooms and toadstools.   The Portmoak Community Woodland Steering Group have no wish for the fine autumn days to end but we are waiting for a spell of wet weather to give us the right conditions to replant the sphagnum moss which we rescued before the mulching work in August.  The exact method hasn’t been decided but one or two of the committee are rather keen on firing it across the bog through water pistols, so watch out for strange antics in the weeks ahead.

In the future: Burns Supper: 24 January 2015

OK, it's a bit far off but it gives a chance to put in a Youtube link to the last Burns Supper.
         When Bill addresses the haggis, it stays addressed
   When Bill adresses the haggis, it stays addressed.

Major activity: August 2014

The restoration of the raised peat bog in the centre of the wood moved to the next level with major works on the core area of the Moss.
Volunteers collected rare sphagnum moss ahead of the  work starting and will replace it later to give regeneration a jump start.
The reason for this radical piece of conservation work is that too many areas of the peat dome were remaining dry, despite damming the ditches and removing the birch and pine regeneration. Louise Batchelor of the Portmoak Community Woodlands Steering Group said: “We need to get rid of the tree stumps and other raised areas in order to make the central area as boggy as possible. Achieving true bogginess should also make it difficult for trees to grow back and improve conditions for bog-loving plants and insects.”
The mulching work – churning up the surface of the bog - was carried out by large machine and took most of August to complete. The many creatures of the Moss weren't forgotten. An environmental assessment was done to ensure protection of the small population of red squirrels, while important breeding places for dragonflies and damselflies were excluded from the working areas. Also, the timing of the work was planned to commence at the end of the ground nesting bird season. 
Scottish Natural Heritage recommended the work and are supporting improvements to the raised bog habitat through their Green Stimulus Peatland Restoration Project . The Gannochy Trust are supporting access works.

Recent event: Wild textures: Thursday 24 July 2014
The RSPB ran a series of guided sensory explorations of the Loch Leven Landscape, including an event on wild textures at Kilmagad Wood.

Recent event: Moths and butterflies: Saturday 28 June

Duncan Davidson, the butterfly recorder for the East of Scotland and moth recorder for Fife and Kinross, gave a hugely entertaining and informative talk in the festival marquee, attended by 18 adults and 8 children.  He pointed out that learning how to identify butterflies was easier than learning the alphabet as there are only 22 species of butterfly in  Fife and Kinross. 
After the talk we headed up onto the hill above the Bishop-shire golf course, to put our new-found knowledge to the test. Of course, it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded, to identify butterflies flitting through the undergrowth, but we saw plenty including a number of pretty ‘ringlets’, meadow brown and the lovely common blue.  
Duncan had also set up a moth trap in Kilmagadwood, on the previous evening, and caught some weird and wonderful specimens, including the poplar hawk-moth and the brightly coloured garden tiger moth.

Recent event: Dragons and Damsels of Moss and Loch: Wednesday 25 June
A ‘damsels and dragons’ walk in Portmoak Moss led by George Guthrie of Butterfly Conservation, attracted 15 adults and 2 children.  The group walked either side of the main drainage ditch across the peat dome and, equipped with nets and jars, hunted damselflies and dragonflies. Thanks to George’s expertise we saw all 3 damselflies present in midsummer. Seen close-up, they are beautiful insects, very brightly coloured.  We caught the large red as well as blue-tailed and azure damselflies.

Recent event: Birds in the Moss: Saturday 26 April
Our local bird recorder for Perth and Kinross, Scott Paterson, has been surveying birds in the Moss for a while and he led a walk to see what we could see and hear: in the end we got 27 species. The full list is here.

Portmoak Moss viewed from Kilmagad Wood, with Loch Leven and Benarty Hill in the background

Fine views, delightful walking and an ambitious project to restore a commercial plantation to a raised peat bog.

Located at Scotlandwell, near to Kinross and the M90, about midway between the Forth Road Bridge and Perth.