These have to be a quiz-master’s secret weapon.
Scottish Natural Heritage [SNH] is progressively revealing quirky, important and little known facts about Scotland’s natural heritage – and it should know.
SNH makes the point that you don’t have to be in the country to be aware of and to see much of Scotland’s wildlife, saying: ‘Scotland’s rich birdlife, in particular, is often easily viewed in city and towns, whether it’s the incredible mass flocking of starlings at Gretna in the winter months or watching a dipper submerge itself in the Water of Leith in search of food to eat.
‘And for those who enjoy looking for clues to our past, Scotland’s landscape contains evidence of great events ranging from meteor strikes to the mile-thick ice cover of glacial age.’
Here are a few of the many strange and wonderful facts about the place we live in, which will now be on a trickle-feed from SNH throughout this year.
- The Fortingall yew in Perthshire is one of the oldest living trees in Europe, estimated at between 2000 and 5000 years old.
- A single pipistrelle bat may consume over 3000 midges in a night (but it still isn’t enough!).
- The Scottish Primrose (Primulascotica) is found nowhere in the world other than the north coast of Scotland and Orkney.
- The volume of water in Loch Ness is greater than the volume contained in all the lakes in England and Wales combined.
- A brightly coloured rock layer in the Northwest Highlands known as the StacFadaMember, provides evidence of the largest meteorite to hit the British Isles, 1.2 billion years ago.
- Spoonbills nested successfully for the very first time in Scotland near Kirkcudbright in 2008. Strangely, for a large white bird, this was only discovered when fledged young were seen being fed by their parents in Kirkcudbright Bay.
- In medieval times Tentsmuir was a wild area, said to be roaming with diaboli, ursesetbosprimiginius (devils, bears and wild oxen), and lawless ship-wrecked sailors and vagabonds robbed people who walked through the area. These people were usually pilgrims on their travels to St Andrews.
- The Corryvreckan Whirlpool between the islands of Jura and Scarba is the third largest whirlpool in the world, with current speeds of up to 8.5 knots and wave heights of up to 9m.
And for those fascinated by the diaboli and the muggers at Tentsmuir, it is Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve and Eden Estuary Local Nature Reserve and it’s on the east coast, just north of St Andrews in Fife.