Wildlife

The vast, undisturbed peatlands are home to an amazing variety of plants and animals.

hero images A v1

The surface of a bog might look uniform, but it’s actually a rich wildlife habitat. The hummocks and dips in the mossy surface create micro-habitats or niches where other plants can grow. Bogs are also home to many species of insects and spiders, as well as providing shelter for nesting birds, reptiles like frogs and snakes, and small mammals like shrews.

The Flow Country is internationally important as a breeding ground for birds that depend on this wild, unspoilt environment. Red-throated and black-throated divers, golden plover and greenshank nest here, while raptors like merlin, short-eared owls and golden eagles hunt over the moss and pools. It’s not always easy to see these rare species: the bogs are vast, and there are few easy paths across them, but being remote and undisturbed is what makes the Flows such a good place for the birds. Many are northern species that depend on cool climates: the Flow Country may be the southern limit of their range.

Although sphagnum moss is by far the commonest plant on the Flows, the bogs shelter other, equally fascinating plants. Sundew and butterwort cope with the poor soils and lack of nutrients by catching and digesting insects. Cotton grass spreads its seeds on the wind in fluffy balls like cotton wool, and tiny, jewel-like rarities like Marsh Saxifrage grow in flushes where the soil is a little richer.

For such a small country, Scotland plays a key role in conserving this globally rare habitat. Blanket bog covers about 20% of Scotland’s land area: that’s about 15% of all the blanket bog in the world.


Further Reading

The surface of a bog might look uniform, but it’s actually a rich wildlife habitat.

Source: Littlewood, N., Anderson, P.,  Artz, R., Bragg, O., Lunt, P., Marrs, R. (2010). Peatland Biodiversity. Commission of Inquiry. IUCN Peatland Programme.

 

The Flow Country is internationally important as a breeding ground for birds that depend on this wild, unspoilt environment.

Source: Bringing the life back to bogs. RSPB Scotland.

 

Marsh Saxifrage

Source: Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

 

Blanket bog covers about 20% of Scotland’s land area: that’s about 15% of all the blanket bog in the world.

Source: Marsden, K., and Ebmeier, S. (2012). SPICe Briefing – Peatlands and Climate Change