Plenty of people braved the blustery weather to get their Xmas tree and enjoy some mulled wine and minced pies with us. As usual, everything was free, but there were lots of donations to the Moss.
Woodland Trust Scotland will soon be drawing up their five year management plan for Portmoak Moss. The Community Woodland Steering Group decided this was a good time to come up with some of our own ideas so with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, matched by Scottish Natural Heritage, we’ve commissioned a team of specialists to look at all aspects of Portmoak Moss.
Please join us on Friday December 5th at The Well Country Inn, Scotlandwell, for a drop-in session, starting at 6pm. This is everyone’s opportunity to express views on the future of the Moss and our consultant will be there with maps and various ideas for you to comment on. The event will last for an hour or two and will be very informal.
The Moss is a very special place, in so many ways, for so many people and whilst not wishing to lose any of that we also want to explore the potential to create a much more diverse set of habitats and continue to restore the function of the Moss as a carbon store and flood control mechanism. Come along and give us your ideas and opinions!
Kinross-shire Civic Trust announced the award on Wednesday evening, 19 November, of its Woodland Shield. Inaugurated soon after the Trust’s inception in 1991, the competition is open to schemes within the County of Kinross and Glenfarg Parish, to encourage environmental improvement schemes and a diversity of wildlife, including the planting and management of woodland and promoting public access for the benefit of future generations.
There were six entries for the 2014 Award with the winner being Kilmagad Wood, Scotlandwell, a community wood established jointly by the WOODLAND TRUST and PORTMOAK COMMUNITY WOODLAND GROUP. The judges commented “that the new wooded area dovetailed into the relic natural woodland and that there were obvious signs of community involvement and useage.” Here's the Press Release.
As with gardening, so with community woodlands. This has been a time to enjoy the fruits of our labours. Many of the apple trees in the community orchard in Kilmagad Wood have been covered with fruit and our third harvest has been the best yet. We’ve seen a wonderful increase from just one apple on the young trees in the first year, to several hundred this time. It’s great that the hard work of planting and pruning is producing results...
We filled a basket with apples and put it in Kinnesswood Shop and we’re grateful to them for making space for it and allowing people to help themselves. Of course, being a community orchard, the idea is that people should pick their own and if we get a good crop next year we’ll make sure everyone knows that they can do that.
There’s a huge range of fruit trees in the orchard , bearing eaters and cookers in every colour shape and size. We’re still learning about their different ripening times and some take ages. If you walk up through the orchard you may yet find some apples there, as well as hazelnuts on the bushes.
Portmoak Moss is also a rewarding place to walk at this time of the year. Red squirrels have been spotted regularly and there’s a huge array of mushrooms and toadstools. The Portmoak Community Woodland Steering Group have no wish for the fine autumn days to end but we are waiting for a spell of wet weather to give us the right conditions to replant the sphagnum moss which we rescued before the mulching work in August. The exact method hasn’t been decided but one or two of the committee are rather keen on firing it across the bog through water pistols, so watch out for strange antics in the weeks ahead.
The restoration of the raised peat bog in the centre of the wood moved to the next level with major works on the core area of the Moss.
Volunteers collected rare sphagnum moss ahead of the work starting and will replace it later to give regeneration a jump start.
The reason for this radical piece of conservation work is that too many areas of the peat dome were remaining dry, despite damming the ditches and removing the birch and pine regeneration. Louise Batchelor of the Portmoak Community Woodlands Steering Group said: “We need to get rid of the tree stumps and other raised areas in order to make the central area as boggy as possible. Achieving true bogginess should also make it difficult for trees to grow back and improve conditions for bog-loving plants and insects.”
The mulching work – churning up the surface of the bog - was carried out by large machine and took most of August to complete. The many creatures of the Moss weren't forgotten. An environmental assessment was done to ensure protection of the small population of red squirrels, while important breeding places for dragonflies and damselflies were excluded from the working areas. Also, the timing of the work was planned to commence at the end of the ground nesting bird season
Scottish Natural Heritage recommended the work and are supporting improvements to the raised bog habitat through their Green Stimulus Peatland Restoration Project . The Gannochy Trust are supporting access works.
The RSPB ran a series of guided sensory explorations of the Loch Leven Landscape, including an event on wild textures at Kilmagad Wood.
Duncan Davidson, the butterfly recorder for the East of Scotland and moth recorder for Fife and Kinross, gave a hugely entertaining and informative talk in the festival marquee, attended by 18 adults and 8 children. He pointed out that learning how to identify butterflies was easier than learning the alphabet as there are only 22 species of butterfly in Fife and Kinross.
After the talk we headed up onto the hill above the Bishop-shire golf course, to put our new-found knowledge to the test. Of course, it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded, to identify butterflies flitting through the undergrowth, but we saw plenty including a number of pretty ‘ringlets’, meadow brown and the lovely common blue.
Duncan had also set up a moth trap in Kilmagad Wood, on the previous evening, and caught some weird and wonderful specimens, including the poplar hawk-moth and the brightly coloured garden tiger moth.
A ‘damsels and dragons’ walk in Portmoak Moss led by George Guthrie of Butterfly Conservation, attracted 15 adults and 2 children. The group walked either side of the main drainage ditch across the peat dome and, equipped with nets and jars, hunted damselflies and dragonflies.
Thanks to George’s expertise we saw all 3 damselflies present in midsummer. Seen close-up, they are beautiful insects, very brightly coloured. We caught the large red as well as blue-tailed and azure damselflies.
Our local bird recorder for Perth and Kinross, Scott Paterson, has been surveying birds in the Moss for a while and he led a walk to see what we could see and hear: in the end we got 27 species. The full list is here.
The legendary Burns Supper - and once again the well oiled PCW team did the imortal poet proud. And, as usual, they were especially well-oiled by the end of the evening. The haggis was once again dealt with by Dr Carr. When Bill adresses the haggis, it stays addressed.
This time it was videoed, so soon you will be able to watch again without needing to send your clothes to the cleaners. The immortal memory was by Gerda Stevenson - very classy - and the Portmoak Players and Mike and Gerry set the whole thing to music.
A great success. Christmas trees were all free, but a lot of people gave donations so we raised a bit more money for the coffers - which one way or another will all be spent on our community woodlands.
The first lantern event in Portmoak Moss, on October 25th, was a huge success with more than 230 people turning up. The rain cleared up in time for around 400 tea-lights to be distributed along a mile of paths, inviting people to wander deep into the woods. Some brought their own home-made lanterns while pupils at Portmoak Primary constructed a giant paper lantern dragonfly which greeted visitors as they made their way round the Moss.
There were other surprises, in the shape of magical woodland characters like ‘Thumblefin’ (the elf-goblin) and two flying fairies (pictured). And mysterious music provided by a phantom woodwind player (Krys Hawryszczuk), who no-one could detect amongst the trees.
Real wildlife was also on display, thanks to George Guthrie of Butterfly Conservation, who set up a moth trap to help people identify and count the moths that make Portmoak Moss their home. Walkers also enjoyed hot chocolate and camp fire music before they headed home.
This was the first evening of its kind organised by Woodland Trust Scotland with help from the Portmoak Community Woodland Group. Jill Donachie of WTS said: “Thanks to Lochend Farm Shop for hosting our shuttle bus transfers, to Tullibole Castle for use of their fairylights and to the many volunteers from around the community who helped everything run smoothly. It wouldn’t have been half as good without you.”
Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Portmoak Community Woodlands Group ran a butterfly event. Duncan Davidson, of Butterfly Conservation, trapped and identified moths and butterflies on Portmoak Moss on the Saturday night and Sunday morning, then he showed us on what he found: about 70 species, with the most populous having more than 200 individuals.
The event was well attended with more than 30 people taking part in a walk over the the Moss, especially looking for tte Large Heath Butterfly. Which we failed to find. Oh well, it was still great fun and we learnt a lot.
Major success from the Boginar! As a result of the ideas generated and the connections made we have secured a significant piece of funding from Scottish Natural Heritage to improve the dams, inhibit unwanted birch regeneration and develop a more detailed management plan. Work is underway.
We held was a well attended training day on how to prune fruit trees, run by "The apple man", the guy that we buy our fruit trees from.
Our advice was not to miss the legendary Burns Supper and once again our sound guidance was heeded by the people of Portmoak: it was another sell out success. As usual, the poor haggis had a rough time of it, being spread to the four winds, and the four walls, the ceiling and the floor by our local medical practitioner, who's good at that sort of thing.
Christmas is too commercialised - but that didn't stop us have having a pick-your-own christmas tree fund raising event on 16 December 2012. Big turn out, lots of trees taken and donations made. Many people never got any further than the mulled wine table.
In order to prepare for the next management plan, we are organising a Boginar on 16 November 2012. A number of experts in various aspects of the restoration, management and development of bogs and mosses will gather to discuss options for Portmoak Moss. Topics include biodiversity, habitat, ecology, hydrology and community engagement. The agenda is here and the final report is here.
We're alive and well and still busy. Too busy in fact to keep the website up to date - sorry about that. Big things have included buying the plot of land on Bishop Hill just above the Kirk and doing a lot of planting. In addition to native trees we have created a large community orchard which includes many apple trees, cherries, plums and pears. And of course, every year has started off with the legendary Burns Supper. Pieces of haggis everywhere.
In order to help to buy the new piece of woodland, we put in just about our entire bank balance. We needed to raise some more money fast, but nobody but a mad person would gives us a donation. No problem - this is Portmoak and if there's one thing that we've got plenty of...
So it was Sing-Along-A-Sound-Of-Music.
That's enough nuns, Austrians, goats, brown paper packages...
Thanks to Dick Crighton for recording this marvellous event for posterior. It was one for the anals.