Sorry for the A-pollen puns, I bet yew all can't quite beleaf why Fergus still lets me write blogs. Trust me, I'm pineing for him to branch out and ashk someone else to do it, I walnut be able to go on. I'm sycamore blog writing. 

Oaky, enough of the terrible puns. If you haven't guessed already, today's blog is all about the pine forest and in particular, the return of the pine pollen. 

For you who do not know, this is my third year at Loch Garten, and around about this time of year the pine trees start to pollinate, covering the forest and the lochs in this mysterious blanket of eerie, lime green dust. The air seems as if it’s moving as the tiny grains of pollen dance around in the air, bring a different sort of atmosphere to the forest. It truly is a magical time of the year…even if you have to wash your car 5 times a week.


Pine pollen turning the Loch green

Even though this algae-looking substance looks unusual and to some people maybe even dangerous, it is incredibly beneficial to your health. The pollen contains nutrients such as: fatty acids, vitamins B and E, protein and minerals like calcium. In 2012 an investigation into the effects on anti-ageing showed that pine pollen slowed down the rate at which cells replicate, meaning it slows down the rate of ageing. Another study has also showed that pine pollen actually lowered the symptoms of arthritis in mice over a period of 2 months. Further research into projects like this could possible one day benefit people like me one day when I'm old and senile...Only joking. I'm staying 23 forever baby.   

Scots Pine pollen is also reportedly great for the immune system, helping people with asthma and other breathing problems, opening up airways after exposure to pollen for a short time. 

2017 was a great year for pine pollen

How can all the trees choose to release their pollen simultaneously? Is it luck that all the trees pollinate at the same time or can they speak to one each other. Well interestingly enough the trees start talking to one another through the wood wide web. The fungus that grows throughout the soil works like a communication system that means all the trees can talk to one another. These fungi's that grown from the roots of the tree create this thriving community allows plants and trees to help each one other and in some cases steal nutrients from other plants and trees. In some extreme cases, some trees like the black walnut can spread toxic chemical to sabotage their neighbouring trees. Pine trees have both the male and the female parts on the same tree with the male pollen cones being lower down on the tree. This is so when the pollen spread, there is a better chance it doesn't pollinate itself! 

So in conclusion, downing a pint of water or lager mixed with pine pollen might not be as beneficial to your health, but take a walk through a pine forest, exposing yourself to the elements certainly will.

The Caledonian forest has really come alive to it the last few weeks, and it’s more than just the pollen that is brightening up the forest. The blaeberry, or billberry for the English readers, or whinberry for the Welsh, has started to leaf; turning the forest even greener.

The blaeberry is vital to the Caledonian forest, this shade-dominant plant provides a food source for a wide range of the insects in the forest. These insects in-return provide a food source for various other insects, birds, mammals and amphibians. In fact up to 60% of the insects that feed off the berries are predated by birds. The insects associated with blaeberry are vital for capercallie chicks, as a caper chicks main food source is made up of these insects and the berries themselves. 

It’s not just insects that feed on the berries though, the whole forest turns blue with poo from July to  September.

Pine martin poo, which actually smells quite sweet, is a common sight on my walk up the Osprey Centre most mornings. So, if you are ever visiting in the late summer, keep your eyes peeled for a some dark blue poo.


poo's done it? A pine marten of course.

I would like to end this blog with an appeal to you lovely bloggers. I would like to set the scene. You’ve been working your boots off for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. You’ve earned yourself a well-deserved break, so off you pop to the break room to make yourself a brew and have a biscuit. But low and behold…there’s no biscuits for you to munch on. You’re absolutely devastated. Sadly this has become a common sight at the Osprey Centre. So please bloggers, think about us poor Visitor Experience Officers. If you are ever in the area bring us a pack of biscuits and sit down and have a cup of tea with us. You’ll honestly make our day.

P.S I would like to make a shout out, to all the bloggers/visitors that have brought us a cakes/biscuits over the season, but in particular a special thanks to Birdie-num-num who literally brought us a bag-full of goodies a day after I wrote that last paragraph. Minder reader or what?!?!?  We love you BNN!