Wildlife

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For such a small woodland Culag Wood holds a huge variety of wildlife.
Perhaps the most obvious are the Herons. Grey Herons for miles around come to Culag Wood to nest in the breeding season. From as early as March these huge birds start to build their nests right at the top of the tallest spruce trees. At their peak, several years ago, there were over thirty nests. Their weird croaks and calls and bill-clapping can give visitors to the woods quite a start.

The woods really come alive with birds in the spring. In recent years Great Spotted Woodpeckers have become established and their drumming calls can be heard echoing around the woods from April onwards.

The little Willow Warbler arrives in spring from Africa and takes over the woods and becomes our most common bird. But listen out too for the rarer Wood Warbler and Chiffchaff.  We have had Tree Pipits nesting in the woods for the first time. They have a dramatic parachute song flight that involves the bird flying high into the sky like a Skylark and then plummeting into the tree tops.

 

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One of the most exciting parts of the woods is the bog. Beware – although it might look solid it is easy to sink through the superficial top layer of Sphagnum Moss. It is here the dragonflies call their own. From the giant Golden-ringed Dragonfly to the delicate Small Red Damselfly these insects thrive on the wet boggy pools and open water around the bog where they lay their eggs. Sit and watch for a while and see how they defend their own lily pad against their neighbours. See how many species you can spot. Frogs, Toads and Palmate Newts also love the moist conditions of the bog.

In the last ten years Speckled Wood Butterflies have colonised Culag Wood. They have slowly expanded their range northwards to include Assynt and can now be found in the sunny glades within the woodland. Dark brown and white, these lovely butterflies duel with each other to defend a shaft of sunlight which will attract a female.

If you wander through the woods in the evening listen out for the hoots of the Tawny Owls that nest in the nest boxes supplied for them within the woodland. Common Pipistrelle bats weave through the trees looking for midges and if you are very lucky you may see a glimpse of our resident Pine Marten. You are more likely to see their black twisted droppings on a prominent stone beside the path.