Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Berry Nice Time of Year

It is beautiful out on the Reserve at this time of year with berries everywhere you look around the Mire Loch. Today the sun is shining, the sky is blue and dotted with puffy white clouds - perfect conditions for bringing out the colours.

On the west side of the loch there are rowans with their clusters of red berries (picture left), brambles laden with blackberries and a small number of blackthorn bushes with a few sloes. The east side of the loch is the best place to see the hawthorn trees, sculpted into fabulous shapes by the salt-laden winds, and weighed down with ruby red haws (picture right).

If you are a forager then all of these berries are edible and there are a host of recipes on the internet. With this selection you have the makings of a fantasic meal: roast venison with rowan berry jelly, followed by blackberry and apple crumble, and rounded off with some cheese and biscuits with a little hawthorn jelly on the side and a little sloe gin for liqueur. If you wait a few weeks then the elder berries will be out and you could make some elderberry wine to accompany the meal!

Please do feel free to forage for berries and mushrooms (also good at this time of year) on the reserve, but don't get too carried away and do leave some for the wildlife. We have had our first sightings of fieldfares already, and they, and their cousins the redwings, just love to stuff themselves with berries, they're not too keen on mushrooms, but the slugs like them!

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