In a recent feature I showed you some of the beautiful trees that we found on a walk around Dollar Glen in Clackmannanshire. But there were so many lovely plants, too, flourishing in the green light and mist-laden air of the gorge, or braving the exposure of the hills above. As we took a closer look, a couple of fascinating insects also made their way into the limelight!
Fungi and ferns are hard to identify unless you’re a specialist, so if there are any experts out there, please feel free to correct my attempts at identification.
HART’S TONGUE FERN
Named because its leaves resemble a deer’s tongue, this lovely emerald fern is nestling in a cushion of moss where the spray of a waterfall keeps it cool and humid.
HERB ROBERT AND BRACKET FUNGUS
A member of the Cranesbill family, Herb Robert has pink five-petalled flowers. It is considered to be one of the indicator species of an ancient woodland.
I believe the fern on the left may be a Dryopteris species, flourishing together with the strap-like leaves of bluebells; on the right, a Polypodium fern with foxglove leaves. Shafts of sunlight pierce the gloom of the gorge, throwing intricate patterns into silhouette.
Like fairy parasols, the furled leaves of wood sorrel bathe in a patch of sunlight. Flowering was over, but the seed heads have their own beauty (below). Find out more about wood sorrel here on The Hazel Tree.
Most wild flowers are past their best by late summer, but this Tufted Vetch was still going strong, providing a lovely splash of mauve against the green carpet.
Where the trees give way to heather moorland, this lovely wild thyme was creeping over some rocks. Hiding in it was a Common Green Grasshopper, which stayed still long enough to be photographed… and an instar, one of the juvenile or nymph stages of the same species.
Also known as the ‘blue bell of Scotland’, the harebell has a longer flowering season than the bluebell. You can read more about harebells here on The Hazel Tree.
BLACKBERRIES, WILD RASPBERRY AND BLAEBERRY
A rich crop of wild berries were ripening in the Glen, and the blaeberry (bilberry) leaves were glowing with an intense fire.
Making his way through the rough grass of the slopes above Castle Campbell was this eye-catching Dor Beetle. Dor Beetles are members of the Scarab family, and they play a vital part in the ecological cycle, breaking down dung and making it more accessible to other organisms in the soil.
Visiting Dollar Glen
A Site of Special Scientific Interest, Dollar Glen is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Admission is free, and it’s open all year.
The town of Dollar is about 13 miles east of Stirling, on the A91. Turn off in the town, following the signs to the Glen. Be warned that the paths around the gorge are steep and can be slippery in wet weather.
If you have time, you should also include Castle Campbell in your visit – highly recommended!
Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf
If you missed it earlier, you can read the first part of this series, focusing on the Trees of Dollar Glen.