The Forest Ecosystem
Scot’s pine (Pinus sylvestris) is the longest lived species of the Caledonian forest providing long term continuity to the ecosystem and connectivity with a wide range of plants and animals. The soft trilling from flocks of crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus) can often be heard in the canopy whilst lichens such as Hypogymnia physodes and Bryoria fuscescens cling to the pine, their blue-grey colour contrasting with the red bark.
A luxuriant carpet of blaeberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) covers most of the forest floor, supplemented with pine needles, bryophytes and occasional delicate flowers such as chickweed wintergreen Trientalis europaea, also known as the Arctic starflower.
Along the eastern side of the river the flora is particularly species-rich, with wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus), kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum) and white clover (Trifolium repens) – all of these providing an important nectar source for invertebrates. On a warm summer’s day a heady scent of thyme and clover rises whilst butterflies, moths and bees flit between the colourful flowers in a frenzy to make the most of the short summer.