Yesterday Rachel from the Mull & Iona Ranger Service led a wild flower walk at Treshnish. We had a good sized group including some of our Haunn guests, which was lovely. Rachel was keen to promote the Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count, and the children who came on the walk were given charts and clipboards so they could tick their sightings, and add any others not on the list. I don’t think I have seen as many butterflies around this year, but we did see one or two Common blues, Dark green fritillaries and the tiny black Chimney Sweepers.
The fields are looking wonderful just now, still behind on last year, due to the cold spring and early summer. Fragrant orchids seem to have loved the cooler weather, however I dont think there are as many Greater butterfly orchids. It was a magical walk, and I still find it hard to believe that there are quite such an abundance of flowers and species at our feet.
I didn’t take many photographs during the walk, but we saw and identified dozens of different wild flowers – including Greater butterfly orchid, Fragrant orchid, Small white orchid, Common and Heath spotted orchid, Wood bitter vetch, several different Eyebrights, Fairy flax, Slender St John’s wort, Milkwort, Moonwort (in Toechtamhor garden!), Northern marsh orchid, Meadowsweet, Wild Angelica, Field buttercup, Water forget-me-not, Hawkweed, Common mouse’s ear, Red bartsia, Sorrel, Red clover, White clover, Pignut, Burnet rose… and many many more. Usually we don’t walk through the middle of the Coronation Meadow, but today we did, being careful not to step on any rarities. Clouds of pollen burst out as we walk. The sward is so deep, it is a good place for hide and seek.
Holding events like this is only one aspect of the great service the Mull & Iona Rangers provide, and the walk held at Treshnish today was just one of many events that they hold during the year. The Ranger Service has been going for over 15 years and is a partnership between the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage and Mull and Iona Community Trust. They work a lot with the schools, oversee Mink trapping, maintain footpaths on forestry land, operate the Mull Eagle Hide and so much more – it is a very valuable asset for the islands to have.
If you are coming to stay and would like to know what events they are holding while you are here, please look at their Events page on the MICT website.
The evening light at Haunn at this time of year can be wonderful, and it was exciting to find a bank of Fragrant orchids which we hadn’t seen in the morning. Today’s blemishless sky enables a beautiful sunset and the sorrel going to seed in the Coronation Meadow cast a soft red hue on the yellowness of it all. Walking in ecstasy.