Monthly highlights to look for by TOM BAILEY – Trail’s four-season photographer
A year or two ago, up by Stickle Tarn, I bumped into two guys searching off-path for something. Being the nosey sod I am, I went over to chat to them. They were looking for clubmoss. Two to four inches in height, these tufted plants look like tiny conifers on the ground. The pair went on to tell me how rare it is in the rest of the world – we have lots of it in the UK. I said “Yes, but we have no trees like you do!”. They had come from Belgium to see this moss, however, and were insistent that clubmoss was more impressive and important than any tree!
Shimmering when fully leaved, due to a ‘hinge’ between the stem and the leaf, aspen has fairly small roundish leaves. The bark is light grey and very often pitted, and is a great identifying trait. At this time of year colour changes in the leaves will be starting, often progressing through to a golden yellow. The north-west of Scotland has many of these beautiful trees.
Late October, being up in the Scottish mountains and hearing that initially distant honking call, then scanning the sky to spy those straggling, semi literate Vs in the sky... now that’s autumn to me. It doesn’t matter what species they are – whether pink-footed, white-fronted or barnacle geese – all that matters is they are here. Returning from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Iceland, they overwinter on British fields, and seeing them high over the mountains, at the end of their epic journey, is truly noteworthy nature.