Tales from the forest

Inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests

Tales from the forest

Welcome to the Forestry Commission Scotland blog. Here you'll find inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests.


School holiday activities on a budget

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When you're a youngster, the holidays seem to last forever, stretching on and on in a sunlit haze of long evenings and bright, early mornings. The most important thing to do on your holidays, of course, is to make new memories with friends and family... but keeping the kids entertained is always a challenge, especially with the cost of indoor activities in towns and cities. 

Looking for something a bit more healthy, active, and most of all memorable? The wonder, beauty and excitement of Scotland's forests is out there, and for very little outlay, you can plan an unforgettable day out, often just a short drive from the big cities. As the holidays approach, we’ve put together some of our favourite things to do with your little ones that’ll get them outdoors and exploring Scotland’s forests.

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The Spring Photo Jam - Meet The Judges!

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The official Forestry Commission Scotland Spring Photo Jam has come to an end! It's been an incredible week, looking through more than 100 entries to find the best of the best, with contributions from aspiring photographers of all ages, as well as experienced snappers and a few professionals. As you can see from the small selection above, our Facebook and Twitter feeds have provided a riot of colour, with beasts, bugs and birds of every kind alongside stunning scenery and intricate natural patterns in wood and water.

Thank you for sharing your photos with us! If you haven't seen them yet, all the photos entered can be viewed online at bit.ly/spring-gallery, or by searching on Twitter using the hashtag #SpringPhotoJam.

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The Aberfoyle Osprey Project - sad news from the nest

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Clarach in happier times...

Throughout the Spring season, we’ve been following the story of Mrs O, an osprey at the Tweed Valley project who has produced several eggs so far this year, along with her breeding partner. While Mrs O is thriving, sadly this week we had some very sad news from our team at the Aberfoyle Osprey Project.

To our great dismay, Clarach, the female osprey who had nested in previous years near The Lodge at Aberfoyle, has suffered an unexpected disaster - her clutch of eggs was attacked by a marauding raven, dashing any hopes that she would be able to produce a brood of young ospreys this season.

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COMPETITION: Announcing the Spring Photo Jam!

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Did you take some incredible photos this Spring? With Summer just around the corner, we want to see your very best pictures. To give you a little inspiration, we’ve come up with 4 categories - we’ll crown a champion of each category, and two overall winners!

We’ve got two incredible grand prizes up for grabs… two £100 vouchers for Go Ape, the UK’s number one treetop adventure, to use at either of their courses at Glentress near Peebles, and at Aberfoyle.

We're looking for the best wildlife and nature photographers of all ages. You don't need to be a professional - just show us your very best pictures. The competition will run for 2 weeks, so get snapping and sharing! We'll announce a winner of each theme, with two overall winners chosen by public vote each receiving a voucher from Go Ape. Find out all about the themes below!

How to enter: You can share your pictures with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SpringPhotoJam, or alternatively by sending us a direct message on Facebook or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your picture attached, and the subject line #SpringPhotoJam. We'll share highlights as we go!

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Wildcats at Clashindarroch

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The Scottish wildcat is one of our best loved native mammals. Breeding with pets and feral cats threatens numbers; as does our presence in wild places. There's concern that forestry adds to that threat. Clashindarroch in Aberdeenshire shows how a working forest can remain a stronghold for wildcats.

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Manoeuvres in the Dark: Celebrating 100 Dark Sky Parks

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Congratulations to The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) - this month, they have announced a new International Dark Sky Place: Tumacácori National Historical Park in the U.S., bringing the total number of parks up to 100. This is a fantastic achievement, and as we were just the 5th on that list of parks, we’re extra proud to see them reach 100 locations. The IDA now protects more than 73,800 square miles of night sky around the world.

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Lek It Be: Black Grouse mating season begins

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The photo above, taken last week by one of our rangers in the North Highlands, shows a black grouse, with its unmistakable postbox-red crest and blue-black feathers. The ‘lekking’ season is when black grouse breed, and a few of our destinations have been affected - Carrick Forest Drive in Galloway Forest Park has seen a delay to planned roadworks in order to give the grouse population room to manoeuvre. “Not wanting to get in the way of love, we have decided to keep the forest drive closed for a few weeks,” reports ranger Lucy Hadley, who is on the lookout for these rarely-spotted birds in her district.

Sadly, the black grouse population is the fastest-declining in the UK. As an endangered species, we want to do everything we can to support the native breeding population. The larger cousin of the black grouse, the capercaillie, is near-extinct in Scotland, and we don’t want to see that happening to the black grouse.

To throw some more light on the mating habits, characteristics and best places to spot black grouse, we spoke to Environment Forester and bird expert Gareth Ventress. Read what he has to say below, and find out all about the mysterious and dramatic lekking display.

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Home to Roost: Return of the Ospreys

Ospreys have returned to their nests at The Lodge in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Kirroughtree in Galloway Forest Park, and at Glentress in Tweed Valley Forest Park. As regular readers of our blog will know, these beautiful birds of prey migrate from Africa back to Scotland each year to breed and raise their young, returning to warmer climes in Autumn.

Our feathered friends

Now is the time of year to see these magnificent birds in their natural habitat, as they tend to stay in Scotland until August or September, depending on the temperature. Over at the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, our colleagues run an in-depth blog monitoring the osprey pairs and chicks, and already there have been some exciting developments, with new pairs forming, and old alliances being challenged. Updated weekly, it’s a great introduction to the different birds who nest in the Tweed Valley, and a brilliant educational resource, with GPS data on their flight paths and migration habits and some stunning photography.

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One of last year’s new chicks born in the Tweed Valley, LK0, who has yet to return for 2018...

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Space Is The Place: Stargazing in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

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One of the darkest places in Scotland, Galloway Forest Park became the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in 2009. With light pollution in cities impacting wildlife habitats, human health and biodiversity, finding places to enjoy the majesty of the night sky can be a challenge.

For visitors to Scotland however, Dark Sky events at our Visitor Centre in Kirroughtree offer the perfect chance to stargaze. Whether you’re an experienced telescope owner, night-time photography enthusiast, or just keen to uncover the night sky’s mysteries, the park is for you. Here, you can spot over 7000 stars and planets with the naked eye. You can even see the bright, silvery band of the Milky Way - often hidden by the lights of the cities.

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