Bogs – the Cinderella of the natural world. Bogs really do have bad press; they bring up connotations of wasteland, emptiness, squelchy ground, but taking another look at these wet, heathery places can show them in a different light.
Bogs, or peatlands to use the politically correct name, can be large, awesome landscapes where nature holds sway. Look at the textures and colours – like a woven fabric draped over the land. Up close see the detail of plants in many shades: browns and reds, green and orange, pink and purple, with blue sky reflected in small pools, and the nodding white tufts of bog cotton, swaying in the wind.
Listen to the sounds; the wind sighing through heather stalks, the peeping and trilling of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks, Greenshank and Dunlin.
There is a seasonal flow to the changes in the bogs. A flush of green in spring is seen as the grasses sprout fresh leaves through the dun brown heather stalks. In the pools the fleshy green leaves of Bogbean appear, with the long stalks of frilly white flowers rising above the still water.
The summer brings the pink and purple bells of Cross-leaved Heath and Bell Heather, with the bog cotton speckling the land. There are two cotton-grasses to be found, the single tuft of Hare’s-tail Cotton-grass, and the multiple tufts of Common Cotton-grass, with their long, thin leaves turning wine-red as summer progresses.
In the margins of the pools lives the sundew; small, yellowish leaves with sparkling drops on the tips of red fringing hairs – beautiful but deadly, if you are a fly. Sundews are carnivorous, as bogs are very acidic and there are few nutrients for plants. The sparkling drops on the hairs are a sweet sticky solution that attracts then captures insects, then digests them.
Come autumn and the Deergrass turns orange and the Heather russet, autumn winds sweep across the hummocks and hollows with the Sphagnum mosses glowing cerise and emerald, and the Cranberry gleaming scarlet, ripe fruit for the taking.
Bogs: a wonderfully natural landscape to become immersed in, soak up the textures and let nature into your soul.
To find out more about Munsary Peatlands, Plantlife Scotland's largest reserve click here.