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
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
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 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.
rare sphagnum moss ahead of the work starting and will replace it
later to give regeneration a jump start.
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
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
work – churning up the surface of the bog - was carried out by large
machine and took most of August to complete. The
creatures of the Moss weren't forgotten. An environmental assessment
was done to ensure protection of the small population of red squirrels,
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.
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
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
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.
Moss viewed from Kilmagad Wood, with Loch Leven and Benarty Hill in the
views, delightful walking and an ambitious project to restore a commercial
plantation to a raised peat bog.
at Scotlandwell, near to Kinross and the M90, about midway between the Forth Road Bridge and