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Removal of regenerating pines at Sluggan near Carrbridge for Small Blue butterflies Saturday 11th March 2023

Due to a couple of last-minute cancellations and a few no-shows, just eight of us met up in Carrbridge before driving out to the work site next to the river Dulnain, upstream of Carrbridge at Sluggan.

It was a gloriously sunny day, albeit with lying snow on the ground.

Work begins  Cut trees start to pile up

Left, work begins.  Right, cut trees start to pile up.

 

We had a mix of BC Highland Branch folk and Cairngorms National Park volunteers, and once again we welcomed the new people to our group by plying them with home-baked cake: Armenian nutmeg & walnut cake, made by Hilary.

Dragging cut trees away from the floodplain  Holly loving it! - the bigger the tree the better.

Left, dragging cut trees away from the floodplain.  Right, Holly loving it! - the bigger the tree the better.

Our task was to remove regenerating pines from a stony riverside bank. A colony of Small Blue butterflies was discovered in this area in 2017 and more recent searches have turned up Small Blues in a few different places within the general area. They are found on stony banks next to the river where their food plant, kidney vetch, grows.

 

First-timer Danielle loving it too! Lunch in the sun.

Left, first-timer Danielle loving it too!  Right, lunch in the sun.

 

These stony banks are created by powerful spates of the river Dulnain and, although initially devoid of vegetation, wildflowers and grasses gradually establish here. Typical flowers include Kidney Vetch, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Wild Thyme, all of which are very important for butterflies, as either caterpillar food plants or sources of nectar for the adult butterflies.

Still plenty to do.  First-timer Benjamin isn't to be defeated.

Left, still plenty to do.  Right, first-timer Benjamin isn't to be defeated.

 

We were dealing with up to two-or-more metre high trees, but that didn’t faze anyone – we enjoyed it even the more!  Using mostly bow saws, the trees were felled and then dragged away from the flood plain and piled up high.  It wouldn’t be good if all that brash ended up in someone’s garden after the next snowmelt!  It was quite a forest to be cut down, but at the end of the day we had a fantastic, cleared area of about 500 square metres!

Pete adding to the pile. From forest to clearfell site.

Left, Pete adding to the pile.  Right, from forest to clearfell site.

As if the gods were looking down on us, a sun halo appeared in the sky.  Despite the low temperature forecast for the day, we were in a sun trap, and it was very pleasantly warm. 

A defiant group atop pile number 3.  The cleared site at the end of the day.

Left, a defiant group atop pile number 3.  Right, the cleared site at the end of the day.

Thanks to all who came along and for those who are chomping at the bit for more, we’ll see you again soon!

The saintly work group.

The saintly work group.

                              

                               Hilary Swift & Pete Moore

 

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