TrackATree week 6 – I get myself a field assistant and we take a constitutional

Last week, life interfered with my TrackATree census schedule so I did not get out until Sunday, 11th of May! On the plus side – I managed to recruit my other half as a field assistant – check him out getting heavily into foliage. He was a delight:)

Magus Muir

Flickr album here.

This time I lugged along some ginormous binoculars, borrowed from a friend, in hope that I would be able to see the twiggy details on my birch and confirm its identity as a silver variety once and for all. I got to see more detail and the twigs looked decidedly brown but I still have my doubts. I think I will talk my friend to come out with an even more ginormous telephoto lens sometime for a better proof!

I made my sound recording in a stare off with a robin, its beak full of an unfortunate caterpillar, refusing to show us the way to its nest…

It was generally very insectey – lots of little black ‘flies’ lazing around on vegetation (and occasionally – our heads) and a slim, bright-green caterpillar poised acrobatically on a sycamore leaf . Still waiting on the iSpot id for both. Birds must have been delighted with the feast!

There were the first violets and a rowan at the edge of the rapeseed field was just about to burst into flower.

Craighall Den

Flickr album here.

It was so lush green and full of bluebells – it’s like the anemones had never been! In no hurry, we walked all the way to the Craighall farm. Lots more bluebells up there – in a vibrant green beech embrace.

At the edge of the woodland we spotted a pair of chaffinches in a large tree. And the tiniest stand of greater stitchwort in flower (it is one of TrackATree wildflowers).

We decided to extend the walk further – taking the full circular constitutional to Ceres and back.

As soon as we emerged into the sheltered bit of pasture next to the farm buildings, we were hit by a completely different soundscape (just have a listen). A flurry of goldfinches rushed away from their perches amongst the last year’s weedy seedheads. Swallows swooped around overhead hunting after the swarms of insects between their chirpy micro-rests on the electricity wires. And a a large brown bird of pray silently swished away into the nearby clump of trees – too brief a  sighting for an identification…

Once we ventured into the fields, breeze picked up, and insects vanished alongside the birds. Views of the distant ‘paps of Fife’ were followed by a brief muddy traipse in the old overgrown country lane – thankfully it was mostly false nettles!

And here we were – in the middle of Ceres! It was too late to explore the folk museum (and its cafe) but we had a little nosy in the perpetually open antique store nearby. It turned out to be located in somebody’s front room – the most pleasant chat with the proprietress transpired, reminiscing over some old photos.

Ceres is a pretty little village – its recent revival apparently attributed to the influx of well-to-do retirees and commuters (some posh old cottage/mill conversions certainly attest to that). But it was quite a busy place in its time – located on important crossroads for transport of goods around the region and the religious pilgrimage route to St Andrews. Since 17th century it had had its own barons – the Hopes (they were responsible for building  Craighall palace at the top of the den), and had flourished as a centre of flax growing and weaving industry until the late 19th century when the flax fibre lost its shine – no doubt due to the competition with jute powerhouses of Dundee. Those public tourist boards can be so informative, n’est-ce pas?

Completely failed to find the official return path to the Den and resorted to a walk along the road back to the car.

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