On the Wildside

Dirrington Great Law.
Dirrington Great Law.

Feuar’s Moss near Longformacus was the destination for the July meeting of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Duns Group.

Feuar’s Moss lies to the west side of the Duns-Longformacus road, about half a mile south of Longformacus. Views to the south were dominated by Dirrington Great Law which is a big rounded hill but beyond it we could see over Greenlaw Moor to the Cheviots. Looking west at Cowhill the two cairns of Twin Law could clearly be seen.

A great many plants were in full flower and our tally for the route was in excess of 100 species. Lots of colour was provided by common plants such as yellow Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Lotus, and Tormentil (Potentilla erecta), blue Harebell, Campanula and white Heath Bedstraw (Galium). It was far too early for the common heather or Ling but the Cross-leaved Heath, Erica tetralix, was in full flower, this heather has light pink flowers and prefers damper parts of the moor.

Bell Heather, Erica cinerea, which has dark ruby red flowers was also in bloom but was less frequent. Stately spikes of Foxgloves were in both purple and white forms as were the tall Marsh Thistles, Cirsium palustre. A few spikes of the Heath Spotted-orchid which has white flowers with a light pink flush and spotted with purple were much admired, but the special find of the day was also one of the least spectacular, with the discovery amongst dense stands of heather of the diminutive, greeny brown flowered Lesser Twayblade orchid which gets its name as it only ever has two leaves.

Only a few Red Grouse were seen and it does not look like being a brilliant season for them this year. Two ponds have been excavated some time ago and about 10 Canada Geese were in residence. Across the moor Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were in song and were often seen drifting down from up high in their display flights. Cowhill Plantation consists of some large Scots Pine, Norway Spruce and Larch and here we saw or heard Crossbill, Lesser Redpoll and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

We did see a rather worn Northern Eggar moth which is a very large brown moth which flies during the day and who’s caterpillar feeds on heather. A few of the group were fortunate to see a large Adder which beat a hasty retreat and some of the group had to be content just to see the moving grass.

Thanks go to Longformacus Estate and their gamekeeper for encouraging us to visit Feuar’s Moor and for all the time taken to show us around and explain the management, wildlife and landscape we all enjoyed.