Trip reports

Volunteering at Aberlady

Volunteering at Aberlady
Photo of the Hairy Oobit by Winnie Thomson

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Seven Group members joined with John, the Ranger at Aberlady and his team of volunteers to tackle buckthorn regrowth in the sand dunes close to Gullane Point. This area had been cleared about 5 years ago and John was pleased to see that regrowth was limited to small bushes. Nevertheless we managed to cut back a huge pile of regrowth and soon had a bonfire burning. It is always interesting to volunteer with John as he usually has something new to show you, and this time was no exception. A Hairy Oobit or Hairy Granny, the caterpillar of the Fox moth. This hairy black caterpillar with orange rings has even been celebrated in poem.

There's a wee oossie beastie creeps amang the heather,
Its fur coat is the height o' fashion thro' the summer weather.
Its mammy was a butterfly, its hoose a wee cocoon
An' if ye try tae pick him up he wriggles roon' an' roon.
He's a freen'ly, hairmless little chap although some folk may doubt it,
Is the wee furry, oossie beastie ca'd a hairy oobit. Ian McGhee

During our walk through the reserve we saw a number of roe deer, now with their black winter coats. Birds seen were shelducks, redshank, curlew, wigeon and a flock of lapwings by the shore. Robins singing and chaffinch along the way and skeins of pink-footed geese flying out in the morning and flying in to roost in the late afternoon. We heard skylarks, known as "laverocks" in Scots overhead. There had been reports of two short eared owls and a yellow browed warbler on the reserve the previous day, but unfortunately we did not have a sighting.

This ends our volunteer programme at Aberlady for 2015 but please see our Winter Newsletter for dates in 2016.

Margaret Harrison