Wildside walk in Ballachuan woods

Argyll & Lochaber Scottish Wildlife Group takes a walk at Ballachuan on Seil

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Views of a female sparrow hawk carrying prey back to her nest greeted members of the Argyll & Lochaber Group of the Scottish Wildlife Trust when they gathered for a wildlife walk around Ballachuan Hazel Wood on Seil.

Led by David Croucher, the group paused at Ballachuan Loch spotting Tufted Ducks, Little Grebes and Ringlet butterflies before entering the dense woodland.

Ballachuan is an extensive Atlantic hazel woodland, cloaking a low ridge along the shores of Cuan Sound. The hazel was formerly coppiced, though it has not been exploited for many years and is now very thick and rich in lichens and fungi.

‘We were fascinated by the discovery of Glue fungus, which, as the name suggests, glues together touching living and dead branches of Hazel. However, we were unable to spot the rare Hazel Gloves fungus, with which it is often associated,’ said the SWT group’s chairman Tony Mitchell-Jones

Down at the shore, the group was lucky to see a Whimbrel, as well as more familiar birds, such as Oystercatchers and Common Sandpiper and one or two members even caught a glimpse of an otter on the rocks.

After a picnic lunch, the group completed a circuit through the wood, passing beneath a well-established heronry from which the young appear to have fledged. A swarm of Speckled Wood butterflies was congregating on a dead tree.

Other items of interest included the day-flying Chimney-sweep moth, numerous orchids and the larval web of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Now that restrictions have been lifted, the group hopes to return to a more normal programme of events, so check out the SWT website at scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk

Caption: Argyll & Lochaber Scottish Wildlife Group takes a walk at Ballachuan on Seil