West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership

Becalmed in Five Mile Wood

Still, sultry mornings make taking photos of wild plants easier ... but watch out for the flies...

The stillest of mornings, the air so immobile it felt intractably dense, clinging to skin, sealing leaf and stone and stick in a translucent medium that was thin enough to walk in, clear enough to see through, but strangely tangible. Flowers and seeds encapsulated, as if in glass paperweights, did not dance about, but stood like mannequins in frozen postures and poses. In the fields, sulky, ripe barley and wheat waited, slightly damp, for the executioner, heads hanging forlornly. Wild grasses supporting alien fungal growths, probably ergot, on their seeds, waited out the invasion in silence.

Above, the sky was thick and louring with cloud. Rain hung suspended, but it did not fall. I was glad of the cloud and the overcast conditions; perfect for the long walk I planned to spend the morning doing. Heat and sunshine slow me down and make me lazy, make me want to kick off shoes, dive in and out of shade or water. Late summer walking in cooler conditions is best for me. Few insects were about to begin with; even the usually busy hoverflies, seemingly curtailed by the quiescence of the morning, browsed flowers with lassitude.

Hoverfly on Lesser Knapweed

No birds moved and few were heard – a half-hearted woodpigeon began to call then stopped midway though. August is a time when birds hide and re-make their plumage, so this was unsurprising. Entering the wood from the straight track at the north end, I continued in a straight line, musing on ley-lines and Roman roads, even traversing the boggy part of the path with less detour than usual. Today, the gift of the woods lay in the static, frozen calm – it was just the opportunity to get close to flowers, fruits and seeds, to admire their detail and mutable colours, and then to take photographs.

Sneezewort and sedge, soft rush and ragwort in its glory….. heather and heath and the tiny eyebright…. pods of broom not even rattling as no breeze shook the seeds inside…. nightshade, yellow vetches, purple knapweeds and perfect blue scabious from which even a small beetle allowed me to focus on as he emerged from a drowsy summer sleep.

As I followed the circuit around the wood, all was shades of green; other colours had to be hunted out, for now is the time of seeding, next year’s flowers are in the making. But here came the challenge…. those annoying, damp-footed flies that only seem to be found in woodland, especially where there are conifers. You know the ones, they have no manners, no reticence, no fear. They hover around your nose and eyes, and buzz at your ears, and don’t even think of opening your mouth. When you swat them away, they shift about a foot, and then back they come.

The still centre, with flies!

As I explored the dead-end central path, and looked for opportunities to break into the secretive thickets of gorse and birch where who knows what evidence of the past lie buried, the conditions began to change. First the wretched flies broke the spell, then the sun began to heroically disperse the cloud, and slight breezes began to rustle, so that the flowers no longer posed in stillness. Luckily, fungi do not tend to wave about in the wind, and I found some charmingly deformed chanterelles at the south end, where I retreated under the trees to stay clear of the sun. As well as the chanterelles, there were several edible Tawny Grisette mushrooms. My personal code says don’t pick the only one you see. This means I rarely get to eat this species, as it only occurs as solitary specimens. There was one broken cap, beautiful in the orderly arrangement of the white gills, but as it wouldn’t have made more than a mouthful on its own, I left it on a fungus-stained fallen log to make a spore print – the white spores will leave an ephemeral fungal footprint against the black wood.

By the time I got back to the north end, things were stirring. Dark butterflies and exquisite white moths were busy; the flies continued to be annoying, and I was very glad of the breeze as the day warmed up. Stillness was indeed a gift, but now welcome to the wind!



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

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Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

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Community Monthly Update – September 2023

Given the distinctly seasonal change in the weather of late, we thought we would bring our Word of the Month up to the top of our September update. Psithurism: (Noun) The sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves, from “psithuros”, the Greek word for whispering. Enjoy your woods this autumn!

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Community Monthly Update – August 2023

This month we really want to share with you a wonderful event we had – the joint woodland picnic on 22 July with Tayside Woodland Partnerships (TWP). We pitched our gazebos in a lovely grassy glade in Taymount Wood and set out a delicious picnic spread courtesy of Alison’s Kitchen in Blairgowrie – quiches, sausage rolls and cakes galore – on portable tables kindly lent to us by Stanley Village Hall. More food and home-baking was brought by the picnickers themselves. Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, it was a beautiful day with not a drop of rain or drizzle. After lots of great chat and good food, we heard a little about each of our organisations’ respective projects and then took a walk up the main track to King’s Myre Loch.

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Community Monthly Update – July 2023

First up this month is for us to say a big thank you to a lovely group of young people from Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder who had come on a mini-bus trip to visit Taymount Wood on 21 June … and just did a litter-pick whilst they were there!! What a great example of being good citizens – enjoying the environment and taking care of it together.

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Community Monthly Update – June 2023

We want to start with a big thank you to all WSWG volunteers who helped in the Wildflower and Mining Bee Rescue Mission this spring. Many times more wildflowers have come through along the various stretches of raked verge than would have been the case had they remained swamped by gorse mulch and, as seen in the photo here, mining bees have successfully emerged where the track surfaces were cleared to help them out too. And of course the cleared sections of track make for more comfortable going again for walkers and dogs. Lots more areas still need attention, and we will keep doing what we can when we can, but thank you again to everyone who helped make a difference for nature this spring.

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