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

The Silent Watchers in the Wood

The female roe deer stands alert, yet unflinching as the dogs race past her. Oblivious to her presence, their attention is fixated on her mate who - unlike her - began barking loudly at the first sight of the dogs and their owner. His actions betraying not only his presence, but also his inexperience and impetuosity of youth. Not surprisingly, the unleashed dogs immediately responded and began the chase. However the roebuck is on home ground and easily evades the dogs and they soon return to their frantic owner.

The buck will hang around the doe at a distance until the mating rut begins from late July to mid August. For the doe it will be a long gestation – with delayed implantation occurring around four months after mating. 

The outcome of that long process lies hidden in the lush vegetation – nose twitching ever so slightly, catching invisible scents, ears straining for every sound in this strange new world in which it now finds itself. Like its mother, the fawn’s default mode of defence is to sit out the danger undetected if possible. When the doe is confident the threat is past, she will return to feed her fawn. 

Contrary to what many walkers believe when finding such a sight – fawns are never abandoned or lost.

Welcome Visitors

Unperturbed by all the drama, a male redstart – his beautiful colours radiant in the sunshine – flits between branches collecting caterpillars to feed his chicks.  A flycatcher supreme, he darts forward, tail fanned out working the breeze, hovering and dodging here and there with effortless aerial agility as he hunts down flying insects. 

From inside one of many old woodpecker nest holes in a decaying pine tree, his four chicks await in eager anticipation of their next meal. For now at least, they are safe – having escaped the predations of pine marten and woodpecker – the ever present danger to young nestlings.   Soon they will leave the nest and continue to be fed, as they build their strength and hone their survival skills to meet the challenges ahead.

An Uncertain Future

Before the end of summer, the chicks and their parents, driven by diminishing insect abundance and daylight hours, will embark on an epic journey of thousands of miles to Africa, where they will spend the winter. How they know where to go and how they navigate has been the subject of scientific research for decades. It’s now thought that they use the stars, landscapes and the Earth’s magnetic fields amongst other methods. Such are their navigational skills, the chicks born in this nest may return to this very woodland next year to find their parents using the same nest hole. 

However, their world is changing fast and it is unclear just how long these beautiful birds will grace us with their presence. Like most of our summer migrants, their wintering grounds are under constant pressure from human expansion and global warming impacts. Each spring those that manage to make the perilous journey to breed here find an ever-diminishing insect population with each passing year – currently plummeting by around 2.5% of insect biomass (living weight) per year. 

Global warming also influences the timing of arrival of summer migrants and the hatching of their insect prey. Many migrants are now arriving a week or more earlier than they did in the 1960s, while their invertebrate prey are often hatching even earlier. This “phenological mismatch’ as it’s called can negatively influence the breeding success rate of some bird species, although migratory birds have resilience built into their DNA and will always adapt their behaviour to optimise their access to food availability, whether during breeding or non-breeding periods. 

However, it may well be how we define our relationship with our insect neighbours that ultimately decides the fate of the redstart – and our own!



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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