At the end of 1914, two gun emplacements were built on the rocky outcrop above Bathing House Wood as part of the defence of the Royal Naval Dockyard at Rosyth. Decommissioned after the war, the bases and adjoining shell storage lockers remain, and in response to discussions with the WW1 historian Dr Gordon Barclay, some of the soil and vegetation was removed by Blair and some of our volunteers back in 2015/16 to enable a full survey to be carried out.
The target of Sunday’s work party was to clear away some of the regrowth of grasses, especially from the steps and drainage channels, and again cut back the shrubs that had become established between the concrete structures to limit possible damage from their roots. With the help of Blair’s daughter Catriona who cleared the steps beside the observation pillar, and under the watchful gaze of Bracken, two of us were able to get the work done in beautiful sunny weather.
As always one or two examples of the smaller wildlife were uncovered. There were several moth caterpillars, probably Dark Arches (Thanks to George Guthrie for possible identity). Caterpillars of this species feed on the roots and stem bases of common grasses, and the ones we uncovered were preparing to overwinter in among the roots. Placed safely among other grasses, they should emerge as adults next summer.
The other insect of interest was this fast moving beetle (Silpha atrata) which is a specialist in eating snails.