Sunday, 26 July 2009

Falstone Moss

Falstone Moss is 825 feet above sea level and receives about forty inches of rain annually. The peat in its centre is about twenty feet deep and began to form about 8,000 years ago.

The Moss is rain-fed and sits in a shallow depression surrounded by forest that has been planted on drier ground. It is one of nearly sixty Border Mires in Kielder Forest. Because of their cool, wet climate, the British Isles contain much of the world's blanket bogs and, as a result, the Border Mires are of international importance. The Moss includes plants that can tolerate the combined stresses of a cool climate, a high water table, high acidity and low fertility.

The small lake at the centre of the Moss

The Moss is reached by following a wet and overgrown up-hill moorland path and a lengthy board walk which ends at, and surrounds, the lake shown above. I hoped that my visit would provide views of dragon and damselflies.

There were a number of common blue damselflies about; unfortunately none were near enough to photograph. I had a fleeting glimpse of one unidentified darter dragonfly, a pale brown species, but happily, Common Hawkers were about in good numbers; I counted ten together at one point, flying over the water or the Moss, either individually or paired in tandem mating.

I had not watched dragonflies in this setting or in these numbers before and it was an experience I very much enjoyed. I sat on the board walk for a good hour taking-in all of the views. At one point, a pair of meadow pipits flew in, settling amongst the rushes on the lake-side. Although it seemed unlikely, I wondered if they might regard the dragon or damselflies as a handy food source. However, their interest in the place was only as somewhere to bathe and they each spent a minute or two, splashing about in the shallows at the lake edge before flying off across the Moss.

I was particularly interested in the noise made when the dragonflies flew near to the vegetation on the banks of the lake and surprised they did not seem to damage their wings when doing so; I can only liken it to the annoying sound of someone rustling a crisp packet in a cinema. A pair of Common Hawkers did settle in the undergrowth near to me at one point, mating in a wheel.

Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea)

On my way off the Moss I stopped to photograph some of the flowers including cotton grass, cross-leaved heath and the heather which was starting to flower. I was also interested to see Bilberries in fruit.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

I returned home via Sidwood and Black Middens of which more next time.


Greenfingers said...

I know what you mean about the dragonfly wings, Emma - they always sound to me as though they're rattling when they come close enough to hear.

Wilma said...

Love the photo of the mating common hawkers. Sounds like a lovely day.

holdingmoments said...

Another beautiful place Emma.
A great capture of the dragons in the 'wheel'

Midmarsh John said...

Really great capture of the dragons Emma.