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Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
2008

The Juniper Survey Project 2007 (by Myra Wilson and Ken Butler)

The project to survey and report on the juniper in Caithness is a two-year project supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. The previous issue reported the 2006 surveys, while this report is about the second and final year.

Introduction
Juniper is becoming scarce in Europe and the Scottish Highlands is a stronghold. With support and funding from Scottish Natural Heritage the Field Club has undertaken a survey of the state of the juniper populations in Caithness. The survey was to take place during 2006 and 2007 and report back to SNH in March 2008.

The survey involves identifying places with substantial colonies, and looking in detail at members of the colonies to put them into the following categories:

Location the precise position of a plant or a group of plants using a GPS device to a nominal accuracy of 1 metre.

M male plants identified by seeing the male flowers;

Fb female plants recognised by carrying berries;

Fnb female plants recognised by examining the plant with a hand lens to see the flowers, despite it having no berries;

MorFnb plants not recognised as male or female, but having no berries;

? plants that are too immature to be sexed, particularly first or second year seedlings or plants which have no flowers on show.

T is the total number of plants at that location.

Surveying during 2007
The intention was to survey locations on the Hill of Forss and Scrabster Hill. An initial reconnaissance revealed that the juniper was confined to a field at the Ravenshill part of Hill of Forss and a small area of Scrabster Hill. 14 members assembled on Sunday 3rd June in damp and misty weather which soon turned to persistent drizzle. It was decided to abandon the Scrabster Hill part of the survey and concentrate on Ravenshill to get it finished before the rain finished us! This worked very well and 169 plants were found and catalogued. Most were on areas which had been subject to muirburn some years ago, while the edges close to a big dyke had not been burned and a few very substantial shrubs were to be found.

A few other reports came in during the year of individual plants across the county.

Results
The following two pages give the results for Ravenshill.

Location

M

MorFnb

Fb

Fnb

?

T

Ssp.

Comment
ND0702669039

1

     

2

3

nana  
ND0705669015

1

     

2

3

nana  
ND0704369000

3

   

1

5

9

nana  
ND0703369000        

1

1

nana  
ND0700869011        

1

1

nana  
ND0700269019        

2

2

nana  
ND0704669047        

2

2

nana  
ND0704069009    

1

 

1

2

nana  
ND0703968987      

1

 

1

nana  
ND0699368896

1

       

1

nana  
ND0692269217

1

 

1

1

 

3

nana  
ND0691569228

4

 

13

   

17

nana  
ND0691269230

2

   

1

 

4

nana  
ND0692769180      

4

 

4

nana  
ND0598669178      

2

 

2

nana  
ND0701469097

1

   

1

 

2

nana  
ND0701569091      

1

1

2

nana  
ND0701969081

1

   

1

 

2

nana  
ND0676669172      

1

 

1

nana healthy isolated plant
ND0676369156          

1

nana large healthy plant
ND0682169044    

1

   

1

nana large, healthy, flowers, berries
ND0682469043

1

       

1

nana large dry brown plant
ND0682269044  

1

 

1

 

1

nana very small healthy plant
ND0682969038      

1

 

1

nana large healthy plant
ND0683469038          

1

nana medium, healthy
ND0684069018

1

       

1

nana small, healthy
ND0684269010      

1

 

1

nana medium, healthy
ND0685069005  

1

1

   

1

nana large, healthy, lots of berries
ND0686169010          

1

nana large, healthy
ND0686169009      

1

 

1

nana large, healthy
ND0686469006

3

 

6

3

 

14

nana large breeding group
ND0685868989  

1

 

1

 

1

nana large healthy plant
ND0684369005

1

 

3

 

1

9

nana large breeding group
ND0688768994  

2

2

   

2

? small, healthy upright
ND0692468905

1

       

1

nana medium, a bit brown
ND0696468852  

4

     

1

nana large, healthy

 

Location M MorFnb Fb Fnb ? T Ssp. Comment
ND0696568849           2 nana small, healthy
ND0701569070 1         1 nana  
ND0701469074 1 1   1   2 nana  
ND0701169049   2 1     1 nana large, healthy, 1.2 metres diameter
ND0703469055 1         1 nana  
ND0703569065       1   1 nana  
ND0702969066       2   2 nana  
ND0703669053     1     1 nana  
ND0700169012     1 5   6 nana  
ND0705469811     11     11 nana  
ND0703369915     11     11 nana  
ND0691369205         1 1 nana  
ND0690269208         1 nana  
ND0690269211     1     1 nana very healthy
ND0689969210     1     1 nana  
ND0690569195   1 1     1 nana small plant very brown and unhealthy
ND0688969202           1 nana growing on top of a clod of peat
ND0690169162 2         2 nana fresh shoots
ND0689669160         1 1 nana fresh shoots
ND0684969171   1     2 2 nana very poor specimen
ND0693169071         2 2 nana new shoots
ND0693269072           1 nana  
ND0697369019     1     2 nana berries green
ND0697369015           2 nana very spread out- 1 or 2 plants?
ND0697869014   1       2 nana  
ND0698469015   1     5 5 nana fairly large group of healthy plants
ND0698969008   2     1 1 nana large
ND0701268991   2     1 1 nana  
ND0701168993     1     1 nana brown berry
ND0703968928     1     1 nana  
ND0718769220 1            
                 
Totals 28   59 31   169    

 

The conclusion is that Ravenshill site has 169 healthy plants which have mostly been damaged by burning, but are now recovering and producing berries, with a reasonable balance of male and female plants. It is threatened by the presence of a cyclo-cross racetrack on the ground and it would be damaged by further muirburning.

Thanks are due to all the members who took part in the survey over the two years. The club has benefited by gaining three good GPS units which can be used in other activities.

There will be a final report to SNH due at the end of March 2008 which will draw all the information together. We will not be able to publish it here, but it may be published on the Internet by SNH in due course.

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