Goat Willow – an Assynt champion tree

January 12th 2018

On the afternoon of 17th December 2017 we needed some exercise, as did Gwen’s collie Jess.  The sky was overcast and threatening, so we took the sheltered rocky path up the south side of the River Inver (NC1023).  The river was very impressive, running high and fast, and thundering down the gorge below the weir.

Old plantings of non-native species along this watercourse have matured into large beech, larch, Scots pine and spruce, toppled in places by recent gales.  Amongst these plantings are good examples of the native species that previously occupied the area, including ancient hazels, downy birches, rowans and, in a flat area beside the river, a grove of alders.  The gorge is also one of the few places locally where one can see, in season, the delightful guelder rose in flower or fruit.

However, what caught our attention on this occasion was a single tree that we only noticed on the way back.  At the foot of a rocky slope, about 150 m west of the fishing hut by the weir, there is a huge goat willow Salix caprea.  Its size and outline are distinctive enough, but the clinchers were large downy-backed leaves carpeting the ground beneath it.   It is well over 1m in diameter at the base, branching low down into two substantial trunks covered with lungwort lichens.  We think this goat willow may be the largest of its kind in Assynt, worthy of a local champion accolade.

We should be interested to hear of any rival claimants, or of examples of other local trees that you think deserve the title of champions.

Ian Evans and Gwen Richards

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Kittiwake

c100 adult and 1st-winter birds feeding off Clachtoll (DAH) (24/09)

Tufted Duck

two male birds on Loch Drumbeg (DAH) (22/09)

Merlin

single bird near Stoer Village Hall (DAH) (21/09)

UPDATE on colour-ringed Oystercatcher

we have heard back from the Icelandic Wader Group regarding the colour-ringed Oystercatcher spotted at Bay of Culkein on Tuesday. It was ringed, as an adult, near its nest while it was territory-guarding on 19th May this year; the location was Eskifjorour which is on the east coast of Iceland. We will post a short article on the Field Club's website in the next few days regarding other sightings of colour-ringed birds recorded in Assynt (DAH) (20/09)

Pink-footed Goose

c225, in four skeins, heading east over Culkein Drumbeg (DAH). Oh boy, it's autumn! (20/09)

Wigeon

single male in eclipse plumage Loch Inver (DAH) (20/09)

Manx Shearwater

young bird rescued from a garden at Inchnadamph (Chris Rix/Andy Summers). The bird, which was well off-course, was successfully released at Stoer the next day. (18/09)

Oystercatcher

four birds resting on rocks Bay of Culkein (DAH). One of these birds, an adult, had a combination of coloured rings on its legs. The details have been submitted to the appropriate ringing scheme, which appears to be the International Wader Study Group, and we will report back once we hear from them. (18/09)

Map