The Wildlife Information Centre

Biological data for south-east and part of central Scotland

Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)
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TWIC Excursion to Hopetoun, 20th June 2010

Another excellent turnout for this excursion to one of the largest estates in the Lothians. We were met by Fiona, one of the rangers, who gave us a quick briefing about the Hopetoun estate before we set off in our respective directions. The grassland in front of the house had evidently been the scene of a large firework display, but produced relatively little in the way of fauna and flora, although the accumulation of debris in the ha-has yielded a number of species. Most of us, in fact, made for the belt of damp woodland along the north side of the estate that slopes down to the Forth – the aptly named Bog Wood. Along the edge of this wood a horse chestnut bore some fine specimens of the Dryad’s Saddle fungus, Polyporus squamosus (Fig. 1). Many thanks to Neville Kilkenny for identifying this very large and striking fungus.

Fig. 1. The Dryad’s Saddle fungus, Polyporus squamosus, growing on a Horse Chestnut at Hopetoun. (Adrian Sumner)

Fig. 2. Damselfly newly emerged from its exuvium. (Alastair Graham)

After a morning in the Bog Wood, we converged towards mid-day on the ornamental pond behind the house, where we were lucky to find damselflies emerging (Fig. 2) and resting on the bank of the pond to warm up and dry off before taking to the air – easy targets for the photographer (Fig. 3)! Froglets and toadlets were also trying to get out of the pond – not easy with vertical sides, but they were managing to climb up nevertheless (Fig. 4).

Fig. 3. Blue-tailed damselfly, Ischnura elegans, resting on the edge of the ornamental pond at Hopetoun. (Adrian Sumner)

Fig. 4. Froglets in the ornamental pond at Hopetoun. (Adrian Sumner)

We lunched on the grass overlooking the pond, and then set off for some of the areas we hadn’t had time for in the morning (though the whole estate was too large to cover completely). Being a planted estate, Hopetoun has its share of what are not usually considered wild plants: a huge Sweet Chestnut, martagon lilies (Lilium martagon), and Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum pardialanches). All need to be recorded, though there were plenty of “wild” organisms as well. A nice find by some neglected buildings was a group of the handsome and colourful woodlouse Porcellio spinicornis (Fig. 5), apparently a new record not merely for Hopetoun but for the whole 10 km square.

Altogether a valuable day’s recording, with lots of new records, so many thanks to all the recorders who came, and to the Hopetoun rangers for welcoming us.

Fig. 5. The woodlouse Porcellio spinicornis (Adrian Sumner)

Adrian Sumner

TWIC is a company limited by guarantee - registered in Scotland No. SC234339. A recognised Scottish Charity SC034113. This project is supported by NatureScot.