After completing my first week as an Academic Placement student at Aigas, I wanted to make the most of my first day off and explore more of the area I am lucky enough to be spending the next year living in.
Myself and another academic placement student, Paige, decided to head to the Flow Country and learn more about the blanket peat bogs found there. Peat bogs are arguably one of the most important habitats in the tackle against climate change because of the large amount of carbon that the peat stores. The Flow Country peat bogs alone contain 3x the amount of carbon there is stored in all of Britain’s woodlands combined! The more carbon there is stored, the less there is released as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is good news all round!
We arrived at a small village called Forsinard and had a lovely walk on the boarded trails that take you right into the middle of some of the bog pools. We were able to get close of views of some of the bog plant species there that are perfectly adapted to life in the bogs. Two of my favourite species found there are the round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) and the common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris), both of which are insectivorous plants. Due to the acidic nature of the bogs they live in, these species have evolved to obtain their nutrients from insects rather than the soils around them.
Most commonly, wildlife sightings include green shank, dunlin and golden plover, especially during the breeding season in the spring and summer. Hen harriers can also sometimes be seen around the area; during this year’s raptor week, one day was spent in the Flow Country and guests were treated to a pair of hen harriers passing food mid-flight, one of the Highlands’ greatest nature spectacles!
The Flow Country is a great place to visit to learn more about the importance of peat bogs, look for wildlife and enjoy the dramatic views of colourful mosses, reflective pools and rolling hills encompassing the bogs – a fantastic trip out!