If you’re out walking along East Lothian’s coast over the summer, you will almost certainly see a tallish plant with many bright blue flowers. This is viper’s bugloss – an ugly name for a beautiful plant. The viper bit comes from the fact that the seeds are said to look like snake’s head, whilst bugloss is derived from the Greek for “ox’s tongue” which the large, rough leaves are supposed to resemble.
It grows in a variety of habitats, but is well-suited to drier areas as it has a long root which allows it to reach deep into the soil for water that is beyond a lot of other plants.
The flowers are very popular with a variety of pollinators, especially bees. Sometimes, on warm summer days (remember them?) a bank of viper’s bugloss will host so many bees that the buzzing can be heard from several metres away.
Exciting things should be happening in the world of bats this month, as this is the time when many young bats will be born. For our commonest bat species, the pipistrelle, this means that for three to four weeks the young will be totally dependent on their mother’s milk.
Look out for adult pipistrelles emerging shortly after sunset to forage for flying insects which they catch and eat on the wing. They can often be seen around woodland edges and in towns, since they usually roost in trees or buildings. Pipistrelles tend to fly at heights of 2-10 metres and so can frequently be seen swooping and swerving just above head height (don’t panic – they won’t get caught in your hair).
A pipistrelle bat in flight.
Forthcoming Ranger Service events:
Tyne and Toon. Sadly, not a tribute to Newcastle United F.C. but a series of events based in and around Haddington. Running between the 19th and the 22nd of July, this will include river-dipping, bat walks, local history and even a pub quiz (and loads more). Look out for details in the local press, libraries or visit our blog at http://edubuzz.org/rangerservice/. Actually, if you’re reading this you’ve already visited our blog, so feel free to ignore that last bit.
Sunday 15th July. Islands of the Forth. A 17 km circular walk centred around North Berwick.
Sunday 29th July. Landscapes through Time. A 13 km walk looking at how volcanic and glacial activity has shaped our landscape and wildlife. No dogs please.
Hikes are charged at £4 per person. Details provided when booking. To book a place phone 01620 827421