TrackATree 2015 – the first outing

We are back on Track-ATree (I told you all about it last year, remember?) !!! They’ve been chivvying us on to start our census early – since there are some early signs of spring out there already with the mild winter this side of the Atlantic and all…We even have some refurbished census forms, field guides and such. Also – a new flower to look out for, and a pretty one too – red campion. Unfortunately, I already know it’s not around at my sites. I was rooting for dog’s mercury, but I guess that one would have been a tad tricky to score with the tiny little flowers…

So, I finally got my gear together again and did my first weekly round on Friday 20th of February. Despite gloomy weather forecast, it turned out a glorious day, so the temptation to clear my head was simply too hard to resist.

Magus Muir


You may recall it is a lovely mixed birch grove, with somewhat swampy feet, and a sprinkling of lovely willowy willows. Driving up through Starthkiness I took in the scratchy bare branches of the trees stretching up in unison towards the white and blue of the sky. I was really excited to say hello to the place again – it is simply too much out of the way to visit outside the census season.

I was a bit worried when I saw that the recent bout of maintenance did take down quite a few of the trees to thin it out, and to take care of the windfalls. But was relieved to confirm that the mossy base of my birch was still boasting the full head of branches. As expected, and confirmed with binocular inspection, very much still NOT in budburst, and not even in flower.

Magus Muir 20 Feb 2015

Otherwise, it was a bit quiet, undergrowth full of soft moss  greenery poking out amongst the browns of the dead fern fronds and the grey of the lichen on the bark of the trees. Even chirping of the busy flock of great tits passing through among the tops of big beeches at the far edge was rather subdued. Oh – and the ever flabbergasting number of dog walkers for such a small place!

Craighall Den

A quick zoom zoom to the Den, where there was some more evidence of recent mainenance with a new gate in place.

It was a bit more cheery here, some snowdrops at the entrance (makes me wander how ‘natural’ their presence is here), a vigilant wood pigeon, and a much more chatty crowd of great tits, flashing their sunny chests and tipping their black hats as their busied themselves in the oaks over the creek.

Craighall Den 20 Feb 2015

My oak, hazel and sycamore were still very much in winter mode – but also very much still standing. Not much else moving apart from some hazel catkins, some herbs in the undergrowth and deer’s white bottoms as they rushed away from me among the shrubbery on the opposite bank of the burn. Some rooks calling out ominously overhead – you never really forget here how close the fields are, how tiny this scrap of the precious mixed woodland!

Oh – let’s not forget that I also discovered where Eeyore’s house had gone. Or several of them…

“In a very little time they got to the corner of the field by the side of the pine wood where Eeyore’s house wasn’t any longer.
‘There!’ said Eeyore. ‘Not a stick of it left! Of course, I’ve still got all this snow to do what I like with. One mustn’t complain.” A.A.Milne House at the Pooh Corner

Well, it all went really quickly this time. It really does get much easier once you set it up in the first year (and when you don’t try to faff about with technology;). It was a pleasure to press my ear and eye to Nature for a careful lookie again though. Off to enter my data then and see you in around a week’s time:)

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