Outing to Aberlady. 11 October 2014

This was the most rewarding outing to Aberlady that I can remember. The tide was out but starting to creep back in on a very fine autumnal afternoon. Our group consisted of 23 adults and a babe of 8 months in a backpack carrier. The warden John Harrison was ready and waiting for us.

From the car park we could see Widgeon, Curlew, Barnacle Geese, Oystercatchers and a single Ruff. A telescope was set up by John in order to give us a better look. As we crossed the bridge a Kingfisher was spotted and from the other side we had a good view of a couple of Greenshank. We proceeded onwards and the sightings just got better. As flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover swept around us we spied a solitary Scaup and a group of smartly turned out Shelduck. A large flock of Pink Footed Geese were spotted way out on the sandbars. Mallards, Starlings, Swans, Herons and even 3 Little Egret all made appearances. As a beautiful sunset began to build the Geese skeins started to come in overhead and many of us lingered to see more arrive. The weather remained clear on a lovely evening.

Altogether it was an excellent outing in the right place at the right time, Aberlady at its best. Thanks to John for helping us to see so much.

Jill Neufeld

Storm damage and its management at Beecraigs Country Park. 25 October 2014

Eleven of us gathered at Beecraigs Country Park on 25 October for a walk and talk by the Ranger, Tracey Smith. It was a cool and breezy autumn day and we walked from the deer farm, round by the loch for trout fishing and through magnificent cathedral-like glades to reach the areas of major storm damage. We returned by the field where butterfly orchids grow, past the BBQ site, children’s play area and trim centre to end up back at the visitors centre and car park.

The great storm of 3rd January 2012 cut swathes through the trees, with winds of 100 mph funnelling round Cockleroy. The forest had originally been planted with non-native species. For a period before West Lothian Council took it over, the trees were poorly managed and hence had become vulnerable to extra strong winds. Once a swathe is down, those then exposed all too soon become vulnerable. Shallow up-ended root plates, like rows of dominoes, tell of the devastation in very specific areas.

But damage brings opportunities. Holes where there were root plates form pools, new trees are self-seeded where light has been let in, broad-leaves are being planted. A thirty year plan is being developed.

Beecraigs Country Park nestles high in the Bathgate Hills, just south of Linlithgow. It covers over 900 acres offering much to the visitor. Our thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm shown by our guide, Tracey. Perhaps this will be followed up with a lecture one day. For more info see westlothian.gov.uk/beecraigs

Averil Stewart

SWT Lothian Reserves Welcome Sponsored Cyclists celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Scottish Wildlife Trust

SWT 50th Anniversary_sponsored_cycleride_All 20 SWT reserves in the Lothians are open to be visited by the public at any time but this coming weekend the 17th and 18th May two cyclists are starting a sponsored cycle ride in celebration of the Trust’s 50th anniversary on our local reserves and reserve volunteers are going to be there to welcome and encourage them on their way! This means that if you wish to be shown around a reserve, perhaps one that you have always meant to visit near you that you have never managed before, take this opportunity to encourage the cyclists and get a personal tour of the reserve by an SWT Local.
The times that volunteers will be on the reserves to welcome the cyclists (who are: Tim Duffy your SWT Lothians Members Centre convenor, and Paul Ritchie SWT Director of Finance) are as follows (cyclists plan to arrive near the start of these time slots but they may lag as the day goes on….!):

Saturday 17th May:

Erraid Wood: 8.00 AM to 10.00 AM – Helen Mackay – the start of the cycling!

Milkhall Pond: 9.15 AM to 9.45 AM David Ross

Roslin Glen: 10 AM to 12 noon David Ross

Hadfast Valley: 11 AM to 1 PM Sheena Irving

Linn Dean: 12.30 PM to 2.30 PM Rory Sandison

Brock Wood: 2 PM to 4 PM Glen Gibb

Woodhall Dean: 2.30 PM to 3.30 PM Lesley Fairweather

East Lammermuir Deans: 3.30 PM to 5.30 PM Lesley Fairweather

Thornton Glen: 4 PM to 6 PM Colin Beckett

Home to a muscle relaxing bath!

Sunday 18th May:

Bawsinch (8 AM start) and Johnston Terrace reserves will be visited en-route but will not be manned as key access and regular open days are routinely offered

Pepper Wood: 10 AM to 12 noon Ken Knowles

Addiewell Bing: 2 PM to 4 PM Gavin and Averil Stewart (estimated arrival of cyclists 2.30 PM)

Hermand Birchwood: 3 PM to 5 PM Jim and Fiona Hewlett

Red Moss of Balerno: this is a full open day from 12 noon to 5 PM with pond dipping, quizzes, guided walks – the cyclists arrival at the end of their weekend visiting 20 reserves around the Lothians is estimated at 5pm (so please wait for us reserve committee members who are manning this open day! We will ring you with progress reports!)

If you want to encourage the cyclists by sponsoring them, their justgiving page for SWT is: http://www.justgiving.com/SWT-50th-Anniversary-Cycle-between-the-120-Scottish-Wildlife-Trust-Nature-Reserves