Wednesday 3 October - it's been a while....
I spent yesterday in the hills of Sutherland, my first fieldwork day in the wilds for several weeks.
Fortunately the weather was reasonably benign, with just a few passing showers.
It helps if it is not too wet because I find that writing on a printed aerial image of the site is still the best way of producing the most accurate results. I am not a technophobe by any means and I still make use of my phone for recording GPS data and establishing my precise location. However, patterns of vegetation cover on the aerial photo are usually sufficient to allow me to orientate myself and - together with a peat probe, spade and visual clues of the underlying ground conditions - produce a rough design for a new woodland that I then digitise and tweak when back in the office.
The system fails if it is really raining hard, even when using waterproof paper and adapting my work method to make more use of the phone, which is less affected by the weather unless it is really grim.
I had quite a lot of ground to cover and the ever changing landform and plant communities prevented me from making too many assumptions about the suitability of any particular area for supporting tree establishment (peat depth being the most significant constraint in this respect).
Because I had so little time, I did not stop to take too many pictures and those that I did take are not that great.
Even so, I present a few of them here as they provide a good indication of the type of ground that I was surveying and the reasons for doing it.