Aug 10 2020

Discovering Woodland Cemeteries Under Lockdown

Juliet Wilson is a volunteer Super Campaigner with us and has written an article about how lockdown has given her time to connect with nature in some unusual places!  Here is her interesting and very heartwarming piece:


When lockdown was imposed and we were limited to walks very close to home in Edinburgh, my partner and I took the opportunity to explore the local cemeteries, both of which we discovered are full of trees and wildlife. Neither of the cemeteries are still used for burials (the most recent grave in each of them dates from around 2006) and are valued as wildlife havens.


Dalry Cemetery is closer to our home and is the smaller, more densely wooded graveyard. Brambles grow profusely alongside a variety of trees where lots of small birds nest. We’ve watched fledgling long tailed tits gathering in their family group, robins, dunnocks, chiffchaffs and blackcaps have also raised young. We have also made friends with one specific robin that will, almost without fail stop to ‘say hello’ to us. When the brambles were in bloom, they were buzzing with bees – at least three species of bumble bees plus one or two species of solitary bees. We’ve also recorded over 20 species of hoverflies here!


The friendly robin


Green longhorned moth

North Merchiston Cemetery is larger and has more open space with some magnificent trees, including a few old silver birches. This is where we discovered green longhorn moths for the first time, these shiny moths have ridiculously long antennae and will gather together in swarms to dance, which is amazing to see.


Beautiful old silver birch at Merchiston Cemetery











A pair of great spotted woodpeckers nest right by the side of one of the paths through this cemetery and it was wonderful to watch the youngster grow up. Sparrowhawks also nest here and have been very noisy and active over the past week or so!







Great spotted woodpecker chick


My most amazing wildlife encounter here though came one day as I was watching a pair of blackbirds foraging very close to me. Suddenly I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and turned slightly to see a stoat running towards me! It almost ran over my foot then over the path and away into the undergrowth! I’ve only seen it the once, but like to think of it having a home somewhere in the cemetery.







Juliet Wilson, Super Campaigner Volunteer

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