Site of the Month: Lowther Hills (July 2023)

Heather moorlands are at their most colourful in July and August and the Lowther Hills are some of the best in our region. The moorlands around Wanlockhead, on the the border with South Lanarkshire, are dominated by dwarf shrubs, principally Common Heather Calluna vulgaris, Bell Heather Erica cinerea and Cross-leaved Heath E. tetralix, but include other common plants such as Blaeberry Vaccinium myrtillus, and (much more difficult to find) Lesser Twayblade orchid Neottia cordata. Associated habitats include extensive screes, with abundant Parsley Fern Cryptogramma crispa.

Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus is the bird most closely connected with moorlands, and rotational burning of the heather is carried out for the benefit of this species, but there are many other species that have a close association with this habitat. These include Bilberry Bumblebee Bombus monticola, Heather Fly Bibio pomonae and Northern Eggar Lasiocampa quercus callunae, a large moth in which the males are day-flying but the females are nocturnal.

Peter Norman

SWSEIC Project Officer

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SUP is registered in Scotland as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Registered address: The Southern Uplands Partnership, Studio 2, Lindean Mill, Galashiels, TD1 3PE. Company No. SC200827 / Charity No. SCO29475

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