Friday, 15 November 2013

Scotland Small?

I was asked to speak to the Langholm Archaeology group on Wednesday evening about the biodiversity found on Whita - the well known hill on the east side of Langholm town maybe best known for its monument. 

Whita hill and monument as seen from Moricambe Bay on the Solway, Cumbria.
At first  I worried that I would struggle to find enough to speak about but - being used to working with moorland and its marginal biodiversity in general, but when I sat down and began to make a list of species I had seen on Whita alone it was vast.  

I was sent this lovely poem by Hugh MacDiarmid which I think sums up Whita beautifully.

Scotland Small?

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner
To a fool who cries 'Nothing but heather' where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing round
Sees not only the heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet
Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
Within living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green, and pink; sundew and butterwort
Waiting with wide-open sticky leaves for their tiny winged prey;
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them;
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour.
'Nothing but heather!' - How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!

-- Hugh MacDiarmid

Green Tiger Beetle (Laurie Campbell)

Adder (Laurie Campbell)

Ladies bedstraw and Wild Thyme (Laurie Campbell)

Lousewort (Laurie Campbell)

Stonechat (Laurie Campbell)

Male Hen Harrier skydancing (John Wright)

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